It is Finally Happening

20140309-080538.jpgFor years the slow recovery was hampered by the existence of tighter credit. A vicious cycle was created when the recession caused consumer credit to worsen and at the same time banks tightened up on lending standards. For some time we have been predicting that lending standards in the real estate sector would not loosen up until two factors emerged. Factor one was the stability or recovery of real estate values. It makes sense that lenders would be shy about lending in a real estate sector in which the underlying asset was unstable.

Yet, the real estate markets recovered over the past few years without a significant improvement in lending standards. Why? Some blamed it on new legislation aimed at making lenders more responsible with regard to their lending. But most aspects of the legislation were not implemented until recently. In reality, there was a second aspect we cited over the past few years which has now come to fruition. For the past three years lenders were inundated with refinances because of record low rates. Now with rates still really low but a bit higher than they were, the refinance craze has abated. Continue reading

11 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Are Thinking of Selling “For-Sale-By-Owner.”

For sale by ownerWhen the time comes that you decide you want to sell your home, the question you might ask yourself is, “Should I list my home with a Realtor or try to sell it myself?”

There is no right or wrong answer here. However, I wanted to give you 11 questions to ask yourself to help you make an educated decision.

  1. Do you have access to accurate data regarding selling prices, square footage, floor plans and amenities of other homes that have sold in your surrounding area within the last 6 months?
  2. Do you know how long it has been taking to sell a home in your area?
  3. Will you be available to answer phone calls and show your home to prospective buyers?
  4. Will you be able to screen prospects to make sure they are qualified (or worse yet, thieves)?
  5. Do you have a plan to market your home so people know it’s for sale?
  6. Can you handle criticism if negative comments are made about your home?
  7. Are you able to negotiate the highest sales price—either on the phone or face-to-face?
  8. Do you have access to purchase contracts and all state-required disclosures?
  9. Do you know how to obtain title insurance, deeds and any other legal documents needed to transfer ownership?
  10. Will you be available to meet appraisers, inspectors and contractors during the process?
  11. Do you understand all the fees you will be charged at closing and exactly how much you will end up with?

If you decide that you’d rather list your home with an agent, please contact me because I can refer you to a quality agent that can get your home sold.

Why I Came to Fairway Independent Mortgage?

After 10 years in the mortgage business, I made the decision to move the Jeff Baxter Mortgage Team to Fairway Independent Mortgage.  I’ve been here now for about 5 weeks and I thought I’d share the reasons I chose Fairway over the other lenders I had spoken with during my decision-making process.  And, I’ll share a suprise.  You’ll see why this company has revealed itself to me as an absolutely awsome place to be associated with – it’s the culture, the belief system, and doing what you say you are going to do.

This is who we are. . .

I wanted a mortgage company that would be able to continue to support us operationally with quick and no hassle closings.  At our old company, we were able to get over 85% of our closing packages out at least 48 hours prior to settlement.  That is critical and Fairway delivers on that front.  I have a settlement on Monday that was clear to close 3 days ago and our docs were at the attorney’s office this past Tuesday.

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The Report We Have Been Waiting For

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Friday’s employment report has given us three things we have been waiting for. First, this jobs report was relatively good after a string of disappointments over the winter. It tells us that at least part of the slowdown was definitely due to the weather — a question everyone has been asking. Secondly, the report contains another upward revision to the previous two months’ of data. There were actually 37,000 more jobs created in January and February when compared to last month’s release. That is a revision which we speculated could be coming. Finally, the economy has now recovered all of the millions of private sector jobs lost during the recession.

That is a lot of jobs to recover and represents a very significant milestone. The problem is, it took the economy four years “post recession” to regain the jobs lost. During the recession and afterwards, the population has been growing. As reported by CNN/Money, Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute, estimates that we need an additional five thousand jobs to reach a healthy pre-recession labor market. That is a long way to go and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Yellen said as much in testimony to Congress just a few weeks ago. What this means is that the economy is indeed recovering, but still painfully slow. We need a few more years of this level of growth to become healthy or we need for the recovery to accelerate. There is another piece of good news here. The better jobs report did not cause another increase in interest rates — at least initially. Again, this is evidence that the markets believe we need even more good news.

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Your Business Model Must Contain the “Right Stuff”

0c808-successMany who are in sales and marketing or own small businesses are too busy trying to earn an income to worry about their long-term business model. Unfortunately if you want to build consistent income and long-term success, the business model becomes a very essential part of the equation. There are many aspects to a successful business model, but we would like to point out a few that should serve as the foundation for building your business

Look at the long-term. Yes, it is important to earn a living each and every day. But the myopic view we experience by living day-to-day can cause us to move in the wrong direction in the long-run. When this happens we can be blindsided by industry and market changes and miss golden opportunities.

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April Fools’ Day (A Day Late)

20140309-080351.jpgWe had a very robust last half of 2013. The economy expanded and the job creation machine heated up. The Federal Reserve Board predicted even stronger growth this year. So what happened? We saw the economy take a step back, especially with regard to the creation of jobs. Even the real estate market seems to have quieted down since roaring back in 2013.

This has given us a lot of fuel for speculation. We have speculated about the weather and political situations such as Ukraine having at least a temporary effect. Yet we go into April wondering whether late last year was a mirage or did we just decide to all stay inside during the cold weather. This speculation makes the jobs report to be released on Friday very important. We had some improvement in job creation in February after weak reports for December and January. Yet we are still far below the levels of the second half of 2013.

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The Basic Elements of Success

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As a professional we tend to get lost fighting the fires of survival each day. We constantly win small battles, while we fall behind in the long term war of success. One day we look up and we are hopelessly behind competitors who have launched new strategies which cause us to initiate a fire drill as we play catch up.

We tend to completely re-engineer our overall plans once every five years, causing a major disruption in our lives, rather than trying to achieve a more sensible approach of continual improvement. When it comes to self-improvement there are two significant guidelines to which we must adhere.

First, we must improve constantly or we will be overwhelmed by our competition. Second, improvement must come gradually. Try as we might, there is little chance to transform ourselves overnight.i

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