Archive for December, 2011

Do Realtors Try to Sell Buyers the Most Expensive Home?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

We love it when you buy the bling, but it usually doesn't happen that way.

We love it when you buy the bling, but it usually doesn't happen that way.

Do Realtors try to sell buyers the most expensive home?

No, but I think I can speak for the industry when I say “We love it when you do buy the most expensive home.”

I would say that Realtors as a group are more interested in transaction volume, in other words, the number of sales vs. the amount of each sale.

If a Realtor is working over the course of a year and sees that his/her average sales price is below the market, they might try to step up into selling a higher price range (of homes), but they typically won’t steer a person to a specific home that ‘s more expensive than another.

I would even go so far to say it’s nearly impossible to steer a buyer into a specific home.

The way it works is that a buyer comes into our office with a set amount that they can spend (either in cash or with an amount set by their lender), and a specific criteria of home they are looking for, or specific needs (a specific school district for example), or a specific location, or any combination of those.  We then help them find that home…sometimes there are several that meet the criteria, sometimes just a few, but in any case the buyer gets to see them all and makes their own decision.

Once the buyer has made a decision and elects to pursue a home we try and make sure that they get it.  We put our two cents in when the buyer elects to make a decision that we believe will prevent them from getting the house.

For example, a buyer looks for a week and falls in love with a property and then makes a lowball offer.  If we know that the offer has no chance of success for various reasons, or if the offer will be competing against other offers, we’ll advise the buyer to raise the offer price.  Not because we want them to pay more, but because we want them to get the house.  You hired us to help you get that dream house, didn’t you?  Well, that’s what we’re trying to do for you…make sure you get it.

The only exception I can see is on rare, rare occasions there are salespeople skillful enough to sell their own listing.  Let’s say you see an online ad for a condo and you’re paying cash.  So you contact the listing agent, you go into the condo and fall in love, and you offer full price.  If you never ask to see other condos (or at least ask what the market price is) you could overpay, because the listing agent will never just volunteer that information if you make an on-the-spot cash offer.  And if you are paying cash there is no appraisal.

That being said, if you’re really interested in overpaying it’s not the listing agent’s fault if they help you buy something that you say you want, if you don’t at least ask if list price is market price.

Contact St. Augustine Team today to get the most home for the money, or just call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.


Why Don’t Realtors Answer the Phone?

Friday, December 16th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

Leave a message, I'll call you back. Unless you're a telemarketer.

Leave a message, I'll call you back. Unless you're a telemarketer. Or that crazy lady from Portland.

Why don’t Realtors answer the phone?

I can’t speak for anyone else but here’s when I don’t answer the phone:

Typically I don’t answer the phone while I’m driving in the city.  Sometimes on the Interstate I’ll take a call when the road is long and straight, relatively empty and I can see for a long ways.  My sister called while I was driving the other day (I don’t get to talk to her much), I let it go to voicemail and I called her back seven minutes later when I arrived at the office.

We can be on the road a lot.  We are in a unique industry where all of our inventory and customers are anywhere but our place of business.  They are spread out all over St. Johns County and into Jacksonville.

On Sundays.  I’m pretty much available 60-70 hours a week on the phone during normal business hours, but Sunday is my day off. 

Plus, Sunday mornings I’m at church.  Once a month a looky loo Realtor will call me at 10:30 on a Sunday morning and be peeved I’m not immediately available.  Tough.

I understand when a customer shows up at the last minute.  I am human and will get you showing instructions.   But don’t get out of sorts if I don’t get back to you right that moment.  Travis McGee once said, “He may not get much else, but a man deserves his weekends.”

I don’t answer the phone when I’m with a customer or in a meeting with another Realtor.  When I used to work in retail management it used to drive me almost to the point of madness when one of my employees would answer the phone when there was a line five-deep.  When that employee answered the phone it was like letting someone else cut in line.  If I’m with you face to face, you get all of my attention.  Please, I have voicemail, leave a message and I’ll call back as soon as I’m finished.*

Between 5-6 pm on weekdays.  What might I be doing between 5-6 pm on weekdays?  Eating with my kids.  So again, I have voicemail.  When I’m finished with dinner we’ll talk.

After my kids bedtime.  Which usually means I’m not far behind.  For that you’ll have to wait until the next morning.  There is nothing in real estate that can be solved past 7 pm anyway: no title company, no attorney, no clerk of courts, no lender answers the phone after 5 pm or on weekends, and most Realtors shut down by 7:30.

*If you’re a telemarketer you won’t get a call back.  I don’t mind telemarketers.  They’re salespeople too.  But, I don’t buy anything on the phone.  And, since so many of the telemarketers are trying to sell the latest internet gadget my question is…if your internet gadget is so great that millions of people will flock to my website, how come I’m in your key sales demographic and yet have never seen your website?  Your web gadget is so un-findable you have to sell it on the phone?  Puh-leeeeze.

**If you’re that Crazy Lady from Portland, Oregon, who beat up my profession on the phone, told me how she could sell it better, that I was just a cog in the wheel, a neccessary evil, etc.  I knew it was you calling over and over again, but I still wouldn’t pick up.

Contact St. Augustine Team today, a group of Realtors who will always respond to text, voice and email.  Or just call Broker Sean at (904) 386-8327 and leave a message if he’s not there…he will call you back. Unless you’re a telemarketer.


Can the HOA Sell My Home?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

You betcha, the HOA can foreclose in Florida.

You betcha, the HOA can foreclose in Florida.

Can the homeowner’s association sell my home if I don’t pay my HOA dues?

In the state of Florida the answer is “yes.”

If you don’t pay your dues to the HOA the HOA can file a lien on your property for the unpaid dues.  If you try and sell your home the lien (and in some cases attorney’s fees, filing fees, etc. related to the lien) will come out of the closing proceeds before you get your share of any profit on the sale.  If you don’t sell, the HOA can foreclose on the lien and force a sale on the courthouse steps.

But, generally they will won’t foreclose right away, because once an HOA takes over ownership of a home they become responsible for all the taxes, utilities, etc.

So before they do that they will do things that the law does allow besides the lien.  For example, they will suspend your right to use common areas like the pool and clubhouse.  They also can suspend your voting rights in the association.

If the owner is renting the property out, the HOA has the legal right to demand the payment of the rents directly to the association until the back dues are paid in full.  The tenant, by law, must comply with this request.

Lastly they’ll foreclose, because that might finally wake a delinquent owner up.

In cases where the owner is late on their mortgage as well the HOA may wait until the bank forecloses to get their past dues.  Why?  Because the HOA is legally entitled to at least 12 months past dues (or 1% of the mortgage amount, whichever is less) from the proceeds if the bank forecloses.

If the HOA forecloses in this case they might end up owning a home that is still mortgaged, which the HOA can’t get rid of because the loan is worth more than the house.

Contact St. Augustine Team for a group of Realtors that can help you navigate the world of HOA’s, or call Broker Sean Hess directly at (904) 386-8327.

Broker Sean Hess Attends Federal Reserve Conference on Real Estate

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

I recently  attended the conference “Exploring Impediments to a Real Estate Recovery: A  Policy Discussion” at the Federal Reserve in Atlanta.  The invitation-only event was sponsored by  the Federal Reserve Bank’s Center for Real Estate Analytics.

Conference invitees included academics, economists,  insurance industry and reinsurance industry executives, real estate executives,  and commercial banking interests.  The  day was spent giving we participants a big picture look at obstacles to real  estate recovery in the southeast.

One of the bright spots was something called a “Shared-Equity Loan Modification” (“Shared Appreciation Modification”) from loan servicer Ocwen.  The way I understood it, essentially a bank will write down the  principal on an underwater mortgage.   With the principle down to a much lower point, the loan becomes more  manageable for the owner and will get back to a point where the owner can sell  it faster.  If there are any profits at  closing, the lender will share it as a condition for lowering the  principle.

The Ocwen rep said that the homeowners using this program were very  happy with the program because it gives them hope of eventually being out from under an  underwater mortgage, and a light at the end of the tunnel as to when they can  move again.  I hope we see more loan servicers (and the investors behind them that actually hold the loans) embracing this strategy in the future.

Contact St. Augustine Team today, or just call Sean at (904) 386-8327!

Sean Hess, Broker for St. Augustine Team Realty, at the Federal Reserve in Atlanta

Sean at the Fed in Atlanta


Why Won’t My Home Sell?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

Why won’t my home sell?  Why is it not getting shown?

Kate Stevens and I answer those questions below in this short video:

Contact St. Augustine Team to get your home sold faster for more money, or just call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

3160 Trout Creek Circle Reduced!

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

by Kate Stevens (, Broker Associate for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

Our big, beautiful home at 3160 Trout Creek Circle in the (gated) Legacy Section of Heritage Landing was recently reduced to $234,900.

Boasting over 3300 square feet, 5 bedrooms and 3 baths, this home sits on a preserve lot.  Heritage Landing boasts an outrageous amenity center with lap pools, seperate pool with waterslides, splash pads, tennis courts, a full size playground, soccer fields and baseball diamonds, clubhouse, outside movie area, networking patio with fireplace, etc. etc.  To see more details on the house and the amenity center click on the link above.  A short video we produced for the home is below!

Call Kate at (904) 377-2276 if you have more questions or just email her!

Can a Buyer Sue a Seller and a Listing Agent for A Delayed Closing?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

Don't throw a tantrum when there's a delay.

Don't throw a tantrum when there's a delay.

I got the idea for this post from a question I saw on an online forum a few weeks back.

Basically, the buyer wanted to buy a short sale.  There are two mortgages on the short sale home.  The first mortgage holder agreed to the short sale price.  The second mortgage holder did not.  So, in order to find a solution that the second mortgage holder will agree to, the contract needed to be extended.  As a consequence, the closing would be delayed.

The buyer wants to move into the house, and now wants to sue the seller and listing agent (Realtor) for the delay.

So can the buyer sue the seller and the listing agent for a delayed closing?

I’ve been told you can sue anyone for anything.  And though I am not a lawyer, my guess is if the buyer sues in this case, he doesn’t have a chance of success. 

First of all, short sale contracts typically cover this contingency.  To wit, if the short sale bank doesn’t agree to the offer price, or if the bank comes back with different terms that would be bad for the seller (or the buyer), then the deal doesn’t go forward.

Secondly, the short sale bank doesn’t have to agree to anything.  As a buyer going into a short sale you have to know that.  The fact that a buyer would sue a seller and…the listing agent who has no ownership stake in the home…because a bank wouldn’t agree to a short sale offer is one of those classic WTF moments that can only happen in real estate.

So here’s a quick primer on home sales and especially short sales:

The seller is under no obligation to accept or even consider any offer, even if it’s the first offer, even if it’s the only offer.  They don’t have to sell if they don’t want to.

In a short sale, the short sale lender(s) are under no obligation to accept or even consider any offer, even when it appears it would be in their best interest.

Short sale lenders often come back with different terms that the buyer might not like, or the seller might not like.  If that’s the case, either party typically has the right to walk away.

Short sales can take a long time, a very looooooooong time to consummate, even when everything goes correctly.  If the bank changes the terms and both parties have to renegotiate, there will be even more delays.  The upside is that the buyer generally gets a good price on the house and the seller gets out from a mortgage they can no longer afford.

In this case of the buyer suing the seller for a delay, it seems like the issue of an angry two-year old throwing a tantrum because they aren’t getting their way.  But what can you do?

Contact St. Augustine Team today to get you through your short sale transaction smoothly, or just call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.