Archive for October, 2014

How to make your Oakland County Michigan VA offer stronger

VA offers are not what makes a seller’s heart flutter. Too many things can go wrong. In my experience you tend to get poor appraisers who are not local. The appraised values tend to come in low.

One of the primary reasons a buyer goes VA is because it is 100% financing. Good for the buyer. Not for the seller. Zero down buyers tend to be weak buyers. VA buyers typically ask for the seller to pay for their closing costs and there are some fees the buyer isn’t allowed to pay and those usually get picked up by the seller.

So from the seller’s perspective- Why would they look at your VA offer?

If VA is the only financing option for you, there are a few things that can strengthen your offer.

Don’t ask for the seller to pay for your closing costs. Check with your lender, but I believe you can finance the 4 or 5% by paying a slightly higher interest rate. When you ask for a seller to pay your closing costs, you are asking that seller to take 4 or 5% less than the appraised value.

Don’t ask for anything that isn’t being offered. If the seller isn’t offering to leave the appliances, don’t ask for them. Don’t ask for the lawn mower. Don’t ask the seller to pay for a home warranty.

Don’t ask for less possession after the closing than the seller is asking for. There is a reason a seller is asking for 30 days or 45 days. You may even want to offer that possession time free of charge.

Don’t use your home inspection as a “honey do” list. You are buying a used house. Minor repairs and maintenance items are a part of home ownership.

Offer full price or even over. Especially if you are in a multiple offer situation. Also, that low appraisal may come in closer to the asking price than an offer that is right at asking price.

Obviously, if you can go conventional that is ideal. Many lenders are offering 5% down conventional mortgages

If you are considering buying a home- VA or not- please don’t hesitate to call Jackie Hawley with ReMax Encore.

Why VA?

The Job of a Buyer’s Agent


Choosing a Buyer’s Agent

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Why VA for your Oakland County Michigan Home Purchase?

When I receive an offer on one of my Oakland County listings, and the financing is a VA loan, my first question to the buyer’s agent is “Why?” The usual answer is “because they can” or “because they qualify” or “earned it” or some other vague non answer.

On the surface it can seem like a good loan for the veteran. No down payment needed and some other perks I’m not going to get into on this post.

The problem in reality– The appraisals usually suck. The appraiser is usually from out of the area, and their values tend to be low. Almost every VA sale I have been involved in had a low appraisal- some ridiculously low.

You ask- Isn’t this good for the buyer? Doesn’t the seller have to reduce their price?

The answers are “no” and “no.”

It doesn’t do the buyer any good to pay for a home inspection and then pay for an appraisal and then not get the house they want.

At this point the house has been held off the market for a month or so.

So, if a house is salable- what is the incentive for the seller to take your VA financed offer?

Buyers- if you can come up with the 5% down payment, you may want to see if you qualify for a conventional mortgage. Your offer will be stronger and you have a better chance of the transaction actually closing.

If you are considering purchasing a home- VA or not- please don’t hesitate to call Jackie Hawley with Remax Encore.

If you really HAVE to go VA

The Job of a Buyer’s Agent


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What is the job of an Oakland County Michigan buyer’s agent?

Many agents, and buyers, seem to have the idea that the primary job of a buyer’s agent is to get the seller to come down on his asking price. The more you can get the seller down, the better you’ve done your job. NOT!!

My job as a buyer’s agent is to find you the best house for your wants and needs for a price you are comfortable with, then make sure you get that house and go through as little stress as possible. Sometimes that means paying asking price or over.

There are many things to take into consideration when you draft your offer. Are there other offers currently on the house? How badly do you want it? Do you need it to appraise? Is it the house you want for the payment you will incur at asking price? Or over asking price? Have you seen anything else you like as much or more?

Buying a house isn’t a game. You’re buying a home. If you think the asking price is fair, there is nothing wrong with paying what the seller is asking. The list price is just an arbitrary number the seller or his agent came up with. The value is what a buyer is willing to pay.

So what it basically comes down to- How much is that house worth to you?

If you are considering buying a home please contact Jackie Hawley with ReMax Encore.

Negotiating Tips

Choosing a Buyer’s Agent

The Purpose of an Appraisal


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Why Zillow is a Good Thing

They are well optimized so my listings get good exposure.

And their Zestimates are SOOOOOOO wrong!!

The first is a no brainer. Free exposure with a pretty decent format. My listings are attractively displayed with multiple photos and a good description. I can edit the photos and text, and it allows me to link a virtual tour.

Many agents belly ache that we are giving our listing data over too easily just for Zillow to sell leads to other agents. This is true, but there is nothing I can do about that. Most sellers would not be happy if I excluded Zillow from displaying their listing. And I don’t blame them. So for now I take the free advertising.

Many agents have also been whining lately about the inaccuracy of Zillow’s Zestimates or estimated house values. And they are correct. Most of the estimated home values on Zillow are crap. From my perspective this is a good thing. It bolsters my belief that sellers and buyers still need us. If a computer program can accurately price a home, it greatly reduces the need for real estate agents and appraisers.

So in my mind Zillow is a good thing- further proof for the need of a real estate professional and free advertising on a highly ranked web site.

Thinking of Selling

Thinking of Buying


Jackie Hawley, Realtor

ReMax Encore

Cell: (248)736-6407


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When High Tech is just an excuse for laziness

This post is NOT a criticism of electronic signatures, Twitter, Facebook… nor of agents who utilize these methods in their real estate business.

This post IS a criticism of agents who criticize those of us who choose NOT to use any of the above in our real estate practice.

I was in a class a couple weeks ago when electronic signatures was brought up. The main (only) reason many agents gave for using e-signatures was it’s easy. Great- if easy is important then do what’s easy. I choose to meet with my clients to discuss offers and counter offers. I choose to actually watch the person penning the signature I’m going to witness. I think there is a reason most banks won’t accept an electronic signature. I also know it wasn’t that long ago that a 14 month old bought a car on eBay with her dad’s smartphone.

Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media- Again I think the primary motivation for this form of advertising is that it’s easy. And social. If it works for you then fine. I choose to understand SEO, SEM and a sprinkling of good old fashioned print advertising. I choose to maintain 2 highly ranked web sites optimized for key words I researched for potential results. I know that Clarkston MI real estate gets searched more on Google than Clarkston Michigan real estate. I don’t Tweet, I barely ever log onto Facebook. The closest thing to social media advertising I use is blogging.

Use whatever works for you. But please don’t criticize those of us who don’t jump on the same so called High Tech bandwagon you did.


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Paperless is NOT Green

Paperless is NOT green

I’m getting pretty tired of listening to agents boast about being paperless thus calling themselves “green.”

First of all- something is substituted for paper. Usually a device that is electronic – more than likely built from petroleum products and run (charged) with coal.

I have no problem with plastic and electronics- But I don’t call myself “green.”

Secondly- Paper comes from trees. New growth trees with flat leaves (not pine trees) gobble up carbon monoxide and expel oxygen. Tree farms are good for the environment and economy.

Green is a lifestyle. Green is also a word that is bandied about, often by those who don’t live a lifestyle anything remotely close to green.

Disclaimer – I am far from paperless and don’t call myself green. I recycle, compost, grow and raise most of my own food (shredded paper is great mulch) and have set aside 6 acres of my own property as a waterfowl habitat in conjunction with my county.

Choosing a Buyer’s Agent


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