real estate commentary: The Dark Side of Being A Corporate Hack: How General Motors Killed My Real Estate Career - 06/04/09 06:17 AM

I married into a family with 3 proud generations of General Motors execs.
Yep, GM was the "family business", and everyone was obsessed by cars. I didn't think I was, but still....
Was I first attracted to the man I would eventually marry because of all his wonderful qualities? Or the little red Corvette that he drove? 
Oh, but it was a glam job. He got new cars every 3 months to drive. I got a new car every year. Whatever I wanted.
I once got "detained" in Mississippi for driving a bright yellow Camaro, missing an important college … (47 comments)

real estate commentary: Why The Mortgage Ship Sank and The Realtor Ship Sailed On - 07/17/08 05:42 AM
A few years ago, the sun was bright and the wind was strong. And while we were never the perfect partners, we still understood that both the Reator Ship (the SS CrazyMarket) and the mortgage ship (the SS LooseLending) needed to make it to shore for a real estate transaction to close.
Passengers were plentiful in those days. Some  lost their focus with the sun so bright, and became sunburned in their quest to get out there. Realtor sailors were way too busy to think of handing out sunglasses or sunscreen.
Besides, that wasn't their job.
Any old mortgage broker on … (75 comments)

real estate commentary: Shattered Dreams, Wasted Time: The Demise of the 20-Something Mortgage Brokers - 04/06/08 08:33 PM
It would not be fair to say they were in it for the money. And yet, MONEY (or shall I say EASE of making money)  was what drew so many in.
It was, the gold rush that caused many young people to forsake college. Worse, to sacrifice those twenty-something years for a career that would be cruelly cut short by the housing/mortgage crisis, instead of one that would sustain them for the rest of their life.
Hopes and dreams left behind in the dust. They never saw it coming.
They are, sadly, the young people who landed in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Who, through no fault of their own, had a … (81 comments)

real estate commentary: Inside the Mind of An Internet Shopper: I Put In My Dollar, Now Gimme My Coke! - 03/02/08 05:33 AM
When we Web 2.0ers dream in color, here is what we see: Mr. IRES (Internet real estate shopper) throws magic key words into Goggle. Because of our fabulous SEO savvy, he is led to our blog. Eureka!
He is madly in love with everything he reads and can't wait talk to us about buying real estate.
Dream on, all ye blogging pioneers. We aren't there yet.
How do I know? I am experiencing an amazing look inside the head of Mr. IRES. I am working on leads from a well known national online loan company. I am not competing with other lenders, and these leads … (16 comments)

real estate commentary: Inside The Mind of An Internet Shopper: You Can't Land A Prize Fish In a Murky Lake - 03/01/08 04:16 AM
There is something sadly ironic about all those "pajama warriors" who apply online for a mortgage at 2AM. I often wonder why they are choosing a mortgage company in the most impersonal way EVER, yet are desperately seeking one of the most personal relationships in the business world.
Crazy, isn't it? But then, its a brave new world out there.
Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing with our blogs? Allowing people to connect with us personally? Aren't we trying to teach the Internet audience that there IS a better way to choose a real estate professional than a … (41 comments)

real estate commentary: Unpermitted: California's Secret Little Property Tax Revolt Is a Ticking Time Bomb - 02/29/08 11:31 AM
"Chad" (not his real name) THOUGHT he was one of the lucky ones. His house had sold, and the buyers were lender approved.
Then the appraiser delivered the devastating news that caused the whole transaction to blow up: The appraisal on Chad's house could not include the entire 700 square foot downstairs area that had been converted into a cool media room, bathroom, and office. Why?
The conversion of the basement had been UNPERMITTED (done without permits). Why UNPERMITTED? TO AVOID AN INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES.
This is a story that pits an underdog (overtaxed, over-mortgaged Californians living in "high cost" areas) against bureaucrats (cash thirsty counties who have … (15 comments)

real estate commentary: How Your Bad Boy Mortgage Could Cost You the Ability to Finance A Car - 02/22/08 02:55 AM
Yes, declining values have even hit the auto loan business.
Here's a heads up: Those guys who finance cars? They don't want you to have one of those bad boy mortgages with a negative amortization feature.
Over at our family's auto leasing company, one of our good credit buyers was mysteriously turned down when he applied for financing on his new truck. As we say in the lending industry, "This one should have been a slam dunk". 
Shockingly, the bank had noticed the borrower had a negative amortization mortgage, and disqualified the client because of this.
Then, one by one, all of our auto lenders came out with a guideline that prohibits negative amortization loans … (6 comments)

real estate commentary: The Anatomy Of A Foreclosure: The Sad Decision to "Let the House Go" - 02/21/08 04:10 AM
****Good Morning America called me this morning and asked to interview the real "Jake". Jake agreed and will appear on Good Morning America tomorrow, (Saturday). Segment is on the housing crisis in California. Talk about the power of ACTIVERAIN! For anyone who wants to see the REAL "Jake", tune in tomorrow!
It is the call that every mortgage broker dreads.  "Should I just LET THE HOUSE GO?"  
The house, which was owned by both Jake (not his real name) and his brother, had been purchased with 100% financing in an overheated  California market, resulting in a $500,000 price tag (now worth about $325,000). Along with it, came the requisite $500,000 mortgage and the … (86 comments)

real estate commentary: Profoundly Paperless: When Did Paper Become Socially Unacceptable? - 02/19/08 02:52 AM
"What is this Big Box, Grandpa?"
"Oh, that? That's a file cabinet. We used to store papers in it."
"Grandpa, what's paper?"
Okay, I know we've been slinging the word "paperless" around for years. Then we snickered, went back to our desks piled with paper, laughed when our clients had to sign enough paperwork that "killed 10 trees" and dare I say it? Scribbled reminder notes to ourselves on little pads of paper then stuck them on things.
But the whole paperless thing is gaining momentum, and there are signs everywhere. Time moves faster than you think. 
 My own son simply refused to believe me when he … (10 comments)

real estate commentary: If The Seller Is a Bank, You Just Don't Rank - 02/16/08 02:24 AM
In this brave new mortgage world, where at least half of all sellers are either lending institutions or agencies that represent these lending institutions, can I just say this? I MISS THE "REAL SELLERS".
You see sellers used to be real people who actually cared about closing on time. They had a real estate agent who was getting paid enough that she relentlessly contacted me for updates, making certain everything was moving along to the seller's satisfaction. 
The title company was chosen by one of the agents (instead of dictated by the lender seller) and was actually competent. Contracts and addendums did not need to go … (22 comments)

real estate commentary: Upside Down On Steroids: The Demise The Mega McMansions - 02/08/08 04:28 AM
Last night I watched with interest as ABC's Nightline did a feature on a neighborhood of McMansions in Southern California....or I should say: the demise of a neighborhood of McMansions? The mortgage crisis has TRAPPED the owners in their monster homes, unable to sell, and awash in negative equity.
Not only did they buy at the top of the market with 100% financing, they did it for all the wrong reasons.
For those who don't know, McMansions are cookie cutter "luxury" homes, usually built very close together by one builder. Call them tract houses on steroids. There are hundreds of these neighborhoods across California.
These are 5000-7000 sqaure foot … (14 comments)

real estate commentary: Lending Synergy - 02/03/08 03:02 PM
What is synergy anyway? Wikipedia defines it like this:
A mutually advantageous conjunction where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. A dynamic state in which combined action is favored over the sum of individual component actions. Behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately.So let's think about this for a moment and apply it to a situation where real estate agent and mortgage lender combine forces for the good of a person buying real estate. Creating synergy in this instance means that joining forces has a far greater benefit to the client than each individual working … (2 comments)

real estate commentary: Pollyanna Never Sold Real Estate: How Americans Lost Their Optimism & Trust - 01/30/08 03:58 AM
There is definitely something about Broker Bryant's posts that always get me on my soapbox. His most recent feature includes some fascinating responses to the often heard Pollyanna statement: "NOW IS A GREAT TIME TO BUY REAL ESTATE".
Well, it isn't a good time for everyone. 
This is like saying "Now is a great time to fall in love". Everyone wants to fall in love, and everyone wants to own real estate. But who are we to say the timing is right for ANYONE to do ANYTHING?
I bet there are few of us who have found love at the wrong time in our lives, … (11 comments)

real estate commentary: Sins (and Confessions) of An American Consumer - 01/23/08 03:10 AM
I am a consumer in America. Forgive me, for I have sinned. And excuse me if I am confused.
               I have spent money I do not have to buy things, and charged it to my credit cards.
               I have bought real estate that I cannot afford (now that I have to make the real payment).
               I have used all of the equity in my house to buy a car, and granite countertops.
                I have failed to save because saving my money is not nearly as much fun as spending it.
               I throw things away and buy new things. Its easier and cheaper.
               I like the way a new … (7 comments)

real estate commentary: And We Forgive Those That Trespass Against Us... - 01/12/08 09:43 PM
I used to think NO TRESPASSING signs were, well, just plain rude.  That was until I owned a property that I was forced to share with trespassers. Within no time, I was that rude property owner, and as far as I was concerned, there was no sign RUDE ENOUGH.
How about this one: "Get the hell out of here you miserable disrespectful person who has no idea how much I paid to enjoy this little chunk of mud?"
Until your property rights are violated, you just don't understand how important those rights are.
I still remember the Realtor's warning when I purchased one of the last remaining undeveloped … (4 comments)

real estate commentary: SALE PENDING (And Praying For Lending) - 01/10/08 04:48 AM
Today, when a Realtor asks a mortgage broker this: "How long should the loan contingency be?", a mortgage broker just might say: "We can remove the contingency the day the loan closes."
Why? Because until the lender FUNDS the loan, there is danger of it falling apart.
In advance, I apologize to all of the listing agents out there who are rightfully uncomfortable with this concept. I realize it is a benefit to your seller to know that the buyer can get a loan before they agree to take the house off the market.
But it is what it is. Lenders are jittery. They are overly conservative. They are running … (66 comments)

real estate commentary: The Death of Suburban Sprawl - 01/07/08 04:05 AM
As a new year begins many Americans are in an understandable economic funk. We resign ourselves to smaller cars and smaller net worths, hoping we can save not only ourselves from the ills of the last century, but also our jobs and our homes (or the equity in our homes). But is there a silver lining? 
Yes, there is. Suburban sprawl is dying.
For the last sixty years or so,  cheap fuel and cheap rural land combined with the relentless demand for housing caused homebuyers to drive further and further into the rural countryside in search of affordable housing.
Our cities languished. Pricey suburbs ran out of land, imposed … (29 comments)

real estate commentary: The Millenials Are Coming! The Millenials Are Coming! - 12/13/07 04:03 AM
All eyes were on her,  certainly not me, as we strolled into the upscale suburban supermarket to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner. Who was this exotic blond creature that stood in stark contrast to the rest us wearing denim, sweaters, and tennis shoes?
She looked so URBAN. She seemed so CONFIDENT. She was having SO MUCH FUN.  
Completely oblivious to their stares, she was wrapped from head to toe in black. Tightly cinched trenchcoat. Oversized sunglasses. High heeled boots, with a large designer purse slung over her shoulder. Cashmere scarf.
Her nails were perfectly manicured, discreet diamond … (20 comments)

real estate commentary: A Real Estate Fable: The Winter of Skinny Rats - 12/12/07 08:12 AM
Two rats met late one December afternoon in 2007 to discuss a mortgage. BUYER RAT had been referred to MORTGAGE RAT by their mutual friend, REALTOR RAT.
"I want to buy cheddar cheese," said Buyer Rat, "but I need a loan. What is your rate, Mortgage Rat?"
"Ah, Buyer Rat, I see you have not bought any cheese lately. No longer is it about a rate. Now they make you go though a Rat's maze before you can get your cheese."
"What do you mean a Rat's Maze? Give me my rate! I want my cheese! Realtor Rat said you could help me get my cheese."
Now we all know that rats … (7 comments)

real estate commentary: Never Say Cockroach - 12/10/07 01:39 PM
During the mortgage crisis of 1982 (yes, this is NOT the first "mortgage crisis") we were forced to move when my husband was transferred to Dallas. We bought a grand old house sitting high on a hill in an elite neighborhood called Las Colinas (as Californians, we were real estate rich).
In spite of the home's regal appearance (dusty peach bricks, stately white columns, and dark green shutters), this house was completely infested with cockroaches as big as beagles. 
These huge bugs had claimed the house during a 2 year period when it had been vacant.....because no one, I repeat NO ONE, could get a loan on the house.  Only my experience as a Realtor, along with my over the … (17 comments)