foreclosures (93)

Sometimes you have to search through the fog to find the best real estate agent you can. Here are seven key points you can look at to make sure you stand the best chance of finding that quality agent to help you sell your home. 


  • Look at Reputation – Ask your potential agent to provide evidence of previous listings sold in the past year with contact information. Find out what the asking prices were and what the final selling price was.
  • Check the licensing – all states will issue real estate agents with a license and it is these licenses which can reveal if there were any complaints or problems with sales in the past year.
  • Go for a winning team – Awards issued by peers are worth taking a look at: if the local or state branch of the NAR has awarded your potential real estate agent with “Realtor of the Year” then it’s worth possibly considering this agent
  • Make sure an agent has the right credentials – just as doctors have specialist fields they study in, real estate agents may specialize in certain products. A doctor may be an expert in glaucoma, chiropractic or cancer but there are real estate agents that specialize in selling (or buying) condos, expensive million dollar-plus homes or luxury tower condo properties.
  • Check the experience of your agent – Finding out how long a real estate agent has been in business is important. There are two places where you can find this information online – one is the agent’s own website and the other is It should say the year in which the agency was established. Be very wary of those agents that don’t reveal this information.
  • Check out the current listings – This is one sure-fire way of checking that the agent is selling the type of property you are wanting to sell (or buy). If you are selling a small one-bedroom apartment and the agent is listing million dollar plus homes then he or she may not be the agent for you.
  • Check their local Listings – By finding out the local listings, you will get a good feel of the homes the agent is selling in your district. If there are no local listings, you may have the wrong agent for you.

On a personal not, I have always found that just as important as the list above, is the potential agents personalities, professionalism and upfront honesty...even if it’s not something you want to hear. So don’t forget to see if you “click” with your new agent. - Real Estate REO and BPO Virtual Assistants

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If you are selling a home, your real estate agent may often tell you the something like – “we have to sell it fast, it’s in your best interests”, “get rid of this chapter of your life and start anew”. “make sure you clean your home thoroughly and give it a fresh coat of paint on the inside and out, and watch it sell like a hot cake.”

Real estate agents often recommend that you make use of a professional home stager, a person who will evaluate your home and tell you what it takes to make it appealing to potential buyers.

A recent survey has found that more than 50% of agents who work with buyers say that staging has an effect on the buyer's view of the home. It does tell us that staging is one sure-fire method to get buyers interested in at least looking at your home.

There is little doubt that decorating a home before putting it out there on the market, really does attract more buyers. Especially if the home is vacant or out dated. So the million dollar question has to be: “what if I have decorated my home but not necessarily in a way that will please a potential buyer?”


A bad paint job is as bad as not bothering to clean or decorate your home at all. If you really want to make that sale then you should be looking at spending a bit of money. Depending on the size of your home, If you look at a home staging budget of say around $700, spent wisely, then you may very well get an extra few thousand in sales price.

If you have a larger home – say a house with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, then expect that home staging budget to be higher but you can also expect a much higher return on the sale of your property when it closes and more immediate interest when it hits the market. The fact is you should be able to recoup costs associated with the decorating and paint work you do around the home, and most times, even more.

So make sure you at least consider your Realtor’s recommendation of home staging. It may shorten your time on the market and put more money in your pocket at closing. - Real Estate Virtual Assistants

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Moving out of a huge house and into a property that is considerably smaller is taking off in the U.S. (as well as in many other countries) in an ever-increasing way. So why do people do it? The average floor space of the typical American home is approximately 2600 square feet, but compare that to a tiny house where the floor space can measure just 100 square feet and no more than 400 square feet, and suddenly you really are looking at a huge downsizing operation.

Put simply, the Tiny House Movement is a social networking group whose aim is to downsize the area they are living in and then broadcast their experiences in the transformation. Advantages include lower mortgage payments, less cleaning and maintenance, lower utility bills, lower taxes, environmentally friendly and simplified living.

So what is the main reason why so many people are flocking to join this new revolution in downsizing the amount of living space in their new homes? The main reason is definitely financial and the effect of the 2007 Housing Crisis still has a huge impact on the way we are all managing our money now.


Indeed, the real estate down turn has changed the way most people live – which is hardly surprising when you consider that an average of around 50% of the income a person earns, is set aside for that roof over our head. Downsizing, even just a little, can reduce the portion of income dedicated to housing to as little as 30 per cent, thus freeing up some 20 per cent of our salary to spend on other luxury items or necessities.

Just calculate how much 20% of your take home pay is and think what you could do with that money: take an exotic vacation overseas, buy a new car, pay for your child’s university fees or just invest in a small swimming pool to go in your much smaller back yard. It’s a shocking statistic that some 76% of all Americans are living from one pay check to the next.

Another appealing statistic is that 55% of all tiny house dwelling people have more money in their saving accounts than the average American has (average savings is currently $10,800), so you can really bank on having more disposal income than the people trying to get by in their huge homes.

A Tiny House may not be for you and your family, but many people are learning to adapt, especially with all the advantages of a Tiny House.

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Are you like us? Seeing a decline in social media engagement over the last year? 

I have heard many say "why is my social media traffic slowing down, specifically Facebook?" and I have noticed the same with my pages, that I have built slowly but surely over the last 5 years.

So on one hand, I'm relieved that it's not just me, that there are others in the same boat. On the other hand, I want to know why. Well, there are certainly dozens of opinions across so many social media news sites and platforms.

There seems to be a consistent theory out there, that it's due to Facebook's algorithm changes in 2013 and 2014? So many people don't know what an algorithm change (or update) actually is. Depending on who you ask, the answers can be quite different. If you ask Google, they might say that their algorithm updates are to provide a better user experience for you and more accurate search results. Ok, maybe!

If you ask Facebook, they may actually respond in the same way. But is there more to it?...There always is more to it. Especially when Facebook's brand pages have seen a decline in reach of around 44% late last year, with their paid exposure/posts bringing in over $6 Billion.

It's been documented that Facebook Brand Pages use to bring in a reach of approximately 16% of their page fans. Heres the bad news... that number has come down last year to around 3%. What? Thats about an 80% decrease in our posts being seen by people who have actually Liked our page and Follow us there.


We have all received those messages from Facebook about "Promoting our Posts" to increase our reach and our interactions, or even for more Likes. Have you tried paying to promote your posts? Did it work? Of course it did, because you paid to have people see your post.

Many Brand Page owners seem to be expanding their Social Media exposure to include Google+, Instagram and of course giving more attention to their Twitter accounts. 

We would like to know what your doing to spice up your social media interaction and presence. Have you see a rise in interaction on other platforms? Which ones? 

Mom always said to not put all your eggs in 1 basket, and I can't think of a better example of that old adage. 

Here is a great article that further explains some specialist's opinion on the current status and future of the big Social Media Platforms.  "Is Social Media Dying a Slow Death?"

PamsVas - Real Estate REO Virtual Assistant Services

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One key component to becoming a successful real estate agent is to start getting better reviews and more of them. How does a realtor get the reviews they so richly deserve? To convert a potential client to sign on the dotted line, often the defining factor is whether the agent must be well liked or well reviewed.

Most of the time the job of the potential client is to find that perfect real estate agent who retains the key qualities they want to see written on a resume are local knowledge, negotiation skills, responsiveness and process expertise. If you have those four qualities then you are probably a successful agent. Successful real estate agents have such qualities and the reviews will come if you can tick five stars in those fields.

You cannot expect that review to be completed automatically. In fact, eight out of ten clients won’t bother actually writing or completing a review unless they have been specifically asked. An agent can email, text or politely call the client after the sale and request that they write a review.

I knew one agent who would specifically ask their client, face to face for a written review or recommendation when dropping off a house-warming gift after the close. That way the gift would be a constant reminder to make sure the review is completed. So dangle that carrot. It is not as if an agent is buying a review, just thanking the client for their time and effort in completing the review.


An agent should mention reviews from a very early stage. If you leave it until the day after a sale has been completed, the client may believe there is little importance attached to it. Make the request for the client to complete one, part of your business practice.

It is also worth the time and effort for real estate agents to help clients fill in their review forms. When someone looks at a blank screen and tries to think of the words that will form their review, often there is a moment of writer’s block or difficulty in coming up with the right words. It is not OK for a real estate agent to write a review for the client, but it is fine for them to cite examples.

So get out there and start asking for those reviews. With so many real estate agent websites out there, you are sure to improve your reputation and increase those sale.

Pam’sVAS – Real Estate REO and BPO virtual Assistant Services.

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How to get more BPOs the Pam'sVAS way

Part  1 of a series 

Let’s be honest, how many of us can say that when handed a Real Estate manual, we jump for joy at the thought of having to actually read it –much less understand and retain what we’ve read? “Fifty pages on how to properly complete a real estate BPO . . I’ll just wing it.” Chances are we either end up skimming over the literature while thinking of all the other things we could be doing or we “shelf it” it and scram to find it when a situation arises. If you want to increase the size your wallet, then you need to increase your attention span –and that’s just the ugly truth! So, without further a due, let’s move on to the promised resolve. I am confident I can hold your attention; after all, it is Pam’s Way!


“How can I get more BPOs?” Oh Boy, have I not been asked this question countless times! While I do have 25 years of Real Estate experience under my belt, my answer has remained the same from the get-go. Adhere to the companies guidelines -literally to the “Tee”. Yes, it’s really that simple. The guidelines are there for a reason; they spell out what each company wants and expects from you. “But Pam, why are they only assigning me rural BPOs? ‘The properties are so far apart that the fee barely covers my expenses.’ ” Well you see, the competition between agents for BPOs is pretty cutthroatThose who adhere to the company’s standards and guidelines are, in essence, giving the companies what they want; in turn, those agents get what they want. As for the slackers . . well, they get what the “model agents” don’t want.

Mastering the Art of Taking Clear & Usable BPO Photos

It always amazes me when I stumble upon botched BPO photos. You would think that with today’s technology as well as with the growing popularity of social media, one would be capable of delivering “clear and usable” photos. Still, a fair amount of agents submit less than satisfactory photos. So, what deems a photo satisfactory? Well, let’s take a look.

So, you’re browsing through the MLS search results…trying to find those perfect comps, when you stumble across a listing whose photo features the picture taker’s driver’s side wing mirror. Would you pause and question the use of the photo or would you continue on without even noticing? If you were a reviewer of a BPO whose subject photo featured the picture taker’s rear view mirror, hood, dirty windshield etc . . Would you think, “Wow, this person has really gone above and beyond our expectations! They are definitely someone I should delegate more orders to!”? Feel free to use the following photos as a reference.

BPO Photos should NOT feature the following:
• Your limbs and/or extremities
• Any part of your vehicle
• Mirror Reflections
• Front yard BBQs
• A moonlit subject property
• Subject property in motion
• The mail service/carriers
• Pets/Animals
• Family pictures
• Billy’s “not-so-secret” magazine collection
• Timmy’s nasty addiction
(You get the idea)

Remember, this is your profession; not Instagram, where you gain likes for uploading photos worthy of “#photobomb”.  Get yourself together. If you want to receive more BPOs, then give the companies a reason to assign you more.

I know . . time is money. You may think 1 botched batch of photos out of 5 isn’t all that bad. After all, you managed to make it to all five properties in one day; you’ve even made it home in enough time to complete data entry and submit the orders before dinner! Either you’ll luck out and they’ll let the photos slide or they’ll make you collect new photos. Regardless of the outcome, submitting botched BPO photos will definitely cost you money in the long run -so take your time!

The agents who invest their time into providing quality service are the agents who receive the highest amount of BPOs; leaving those who compromise on quality in turn for getting the job done quickly, their leftovers. Apart from receiving a higher volume of BPOs, the model agents are also more likely to win the listings. I mean, come on, if you can’t take a picture properly (even after having been provided instructions), then one can only imagine what your completed transaction documents would look like.

So, I conclude the first part of my planned series with the following words of wisdom…

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect. So, every time you repeat an action, right or wrong, you will find it easier to repeat that same action, right or wrong. Develop a passion for obtaining your goals. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”

When one is truly passionate about something, it increases ones chance of success. Passion is what pushes one to give more than 100% of oneself, instead of simply putting forth the bare minimum.

Check out our full Blog HERE

Don’t forget to add us to your Social Media pages for more good reads!

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Most organizations, people and teams like to come first, but when you are top of the league in the foreclosure division stakes, it’s not a medal your team will be proud to wear. This is the wooden spoon prize, the unwanted accolade and a position not to be proud of.

CoreLogic is a leading provider when it comes to real estate charts and data, and it places poor old New Jersey at the top of this league for foreclosures. At 5.5 per cent, New Jersey has the highest percentage of foreclosures among mortgaged homes. And what makes that figure sound even worse is that in second place came New York and Florida, which both tied for the runners-up spot with 4.1 per cent. That’s quite a big difference!

Moreover, it seems to get worse when the figures released for the state’s delinquency rate is the highest of them all in the United States at 9.1 per cent. That figure is well in excess of both Florida and New York once again. Yet these figures come as the country as a whole seems to have falling rates of foreclosure.

Last October 2013, there were some 875,000 homes registered as in some form of disclosure across America. But overall things have gotten better because the rate of homes in some form of foreclosure in October 2014, exactly a year later, had dropped by a staggeringly impressive 30 per cent. Currently there is slightly more than 600,000 homes under the threat of foreclosure.

So what is behind the science and under the hood of these higher than average foreclosure rates in New Jersey? Well, for starters the entire process of foreclosure (from the very first payment missed to kicking the occupants right out of their home) takes much longer in New Jersey than it does anywhere else in the U.S. And it is this long drawn-out process that has contributed to a backlog in the county courts that get to ultimately deal with the foreclosure.

Many mortgage lenders in New Jersey decided to freeze the foreclosure process for thousands of households in the state. This meant many homes were effectively frozen in the foreclosure status, but Hurricane Sandy also helped to play a huge part in the process of adding new homes to the foreclosure lists, although this would have affected New York State just as much. The good news is that the process is moving swiftly along now.  -  Real Estate REO and BPO Virtual Assistant Services

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Rules Relaxed on Home Buys Following Foreclosure

At last there may be some relief for those that have gone through the suffering of not being able to pay the mortgage and then finding eviction looms through the foreclosure process. If you have ever been in the unfortunate situation of being a homeowner that cannot keep up the monthly payments, you will know all too well how debilitating the process of eviction and foreclosure would have been.
You would also undoubtedly be thinking that any future home purchase is probably off the cards and something you’ll never be allowed to do again in the future. Well there may be some hope on the horizon for those that have gone through foreclosure but it’s not all good news, I’m afraid.
New rules are set to be introduced in the United States that will allow those that have gone through foreclosure to move back into home ownership far more quickly than previously allowed. But critics are suggesting the new relaxation on time is purely theoretical. This is because lenders are unlikely to go around grabbing any former homeowner that has gone through the pain and poverty of foreclosure and now wants to try the process all over again just months after losing their last home.
Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Association are certainly two entities that are on board with the idea but it’s not much good for a prospective homebuyer who wants to get their feet back in the property ladder following recent foreclosure if the lenders won’t play ball.
FHA rules have been changed to allow any potential homebuyer the opportunity to buy another home within 12 months of foreclosure providing two conditions are met: the first condition must be that when you lost your home it must have been due to economic conditions that were out of your control. Secondly, you must go through a program of housing counselling; this may be something like a week-long course where you will be made aware of the pitfalls of investing in a home that may or may not be able to afford.

Mortgage lenders will normally keep you waiting seven years after foreclosure before even considering lending out more money. If you have been forced to a deed in lieu or a short sale, the wait is often only two years. However, you will still need low debts and a certain salary level before being considered for mortgage approval.
Credit: - Real Estate Virtual Assistants
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If you fail to keep up your homeowners’ association fees or complete the annual assessments, the HOA could end up foreclosing. Its par for the course these days that when you purchase a home, condo or town house, that happens to be a communal development, then you will most likely have to pay fees to a housing association.

Now what would happen if you simply ignored these fees or failed to meet the annual assessments? The Housing Association would apply to get a lien on your home and this then leads into foreclosure (assuming you still fail to settle up with your housing association).

The Homeowners’ Associations are a body that sets up to look after the communal garden areas, essential repairs in stairwells, cleaning, lighting for communal hallways and exterior electricity bills. All this maintenance costs and it recovers its cost from the lease holder. Failure to pay up means a service is being provided to you and you are essentially not paying for it.


Other work that the housing association must carry out includes removing snow, landscape gardening, fitting new communal windows and repairing roof tiling.  Some of the more-modern condo complexes have swimming pools, gyms, clubhouses and tennis courts which can be used by the residents. All of these amenities need regular maintenance and cleaning, so the fees required by the association are likely to be higher in these luxury blocks.

The housing association also has to enforce the rules within the community; if one resident happens to be playing music loud late at night and making life a misery for all the other members of the community, the association must act and the administration work to remedy anti-social behaviour can mount up in both time and money.

HOA fees can often spring a surprise one-off fee for those complexes that need work carried out on a one-off basis. An example of this would be that a condo complex may need new exterior windows and fascia repairs following a wild storm or even hurricane; these “special assessment fees” are an unfortunate but necessary payment that will land in the lap of the resident – but not as a regular payment but as a one-off fee and comes in addition to regular payments being made.

Before taking out a homeowner association property you should read the terms and conditions on payment of fees should you default at any time, as some associations may charge interest on late payment as well as collection cost fees (if an agency was involved in the fee recovery).


Real Estate REO and BPO Virtual Assistants

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In business and commerce circles, the big news just days into October is the buy-out of Move Incorporated by the newspaper and media giant News Corporation. So who are Move Inc and why did News Corporation decide to splash out an eye-watering $950 million for the business? In the United States, Move Inc stands as the third biggest online real estate listing firm. It helps home buyers and sellers to purchase a new home by providing them with tools, guides, information and professionals from the real estate industry to make that purchase run as smooth as possible.

News Corporation is essentially a newspaper publisher which began its business from South Australia and later moved into New York to become the second-largest newspaper and media organization in the world. It now want to increase revenue and expand its business beyond just selling papers and promoting a media front and real estate is seen as a pretty good sector to get the turnover and extra revenue it now seeks.

As for Move Inc, the buy-out could see the online real estate listing agency become a real giant and a major player in the U.S. online home retail market. Robert Thomson is the Chief Executive Officer at News Corporation these days and he predicts Move Inc will soon become the United States’ biggest online real estate listing firm, thanks to News Corp’s influx of cash and support.


News Corp needs a change after the scandals of 2011 when the company was forced to close down its best-selling Sunday newspaper in the UK, News of the World. Allegations of phone hacking seriously depleted the organization’s reputation both in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Mr Thomson also believes that online home buying and internet real estate business is a growing market that has not yet taken off to the heights he believes it could reach. News Corp are convinced this sector is still in its infancy and is at the early stage of development. If it is right then the prospects for extra revenue could be huge in years to come.

There is no doubt that more and more people are now using the internet to buy their next home. Many Americans have actually purchased real estate by using self-help tools and become their very own real estate agent, just like many have booked their vacations online without using a travel agent.

Only time will tell if this was the best move for News corp and to see what direction Online Real Estate Listing Services will take. - Real Estate Virtual Assistant Services

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Over the past few years, REO supply has fluctuated almost constantly. The REO Brokers/agents and suppliers who work with agencies like HomeSteps, see this everyday and understand the seasonal and demographical reasons behind these fluctuations. These REO Brokers know how to adapt and change with the low supplies of inventory.


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The 80/20 Principle is actually a concept that could change your life, or at least the very way you approach your way of living. We use the 80/20 Principle in many aspects of our real estate virtual assistant company. The principle that is sometimes primarily aimed at business people, in our case Real Estate, but the rule is easily applied to every human being and can work for anyone in any situation, not just REOs and Foreclosure processing.
Most of us are not big on math, so the idea of understanding a formula is likely to scare us away at first. But don’t be put off by the figures – the mathematics of it all is easy. The principle actually began in Italy when a positive thinker and economist fan called Pareto noted that 80% of all the income that Italy enjoyed was being taken by just 20% of the population.
However, this rule holds true in other situations such as 80% of all your outcomes come from just 20% of your input. You could also argue (with a correct analysis) that 20% of your activities provide you with 80% of your financial income.
While it is certainly the case that in business the 80/20 Principle applies, it is so much more fun when we apply the rule to your everyday happiness and social life. But never forget that money so often provides us with happiness – or at least prevents us from the bad feeling of poverty and debt, so an important role in your happiness and your cash is hugely influenced by 80/20 principles.
Other business example are that 20% of all employees are responsible for 80% of any company’s output. Also, you may look at matters much closer to home; your mobile phone for example – Let’s say you have 100 people in your contacts list, it’s a sure fire bet that just 20 of those folk who receive calls and call you on your phone represent 80% of all activity on your call log.
The same examples can be found in email correspondence, the amount of colleagues you speak to at work. If you have 10 people in your office, you will speak to two of them about 80% of the time.

The message to make this work for you is simple enough – focus on those things that produce the best outcomes for you and you will enjoy the revenue in greater numbers and save so much time in your daily life, and as many of us know, time can be more valuable than money.
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Many real estate agents that provide BPOs know what is entailed in the process. Many BPO agents enjoy doing BPOs and many that don’t necessarily enjoy them, but feel that it is necessary to supplement their Real Estate business and to develop relationships in the industry.


There are even companies that seem to offer BPO education, certification and lists of companies looking for BPO agents. Do these companies provide value for agents? Are their “Membership Fees” worth it? Have you had a good experience with such companies?


Here is a list we found that covers many of the different tasks when processing a BPO.


• BPO Preparation

• Review BPO Order

• Gather Information & Property Inspection

• Market evaluation

• Distressed Properties

• Accessing Public Records

• Contact Property Owner

• BPO Photos

• Neighborhood Inspection

• Exterior Property Inspection

• Interior Inspection

• Gross Living Area

• Room Count & GLA

• Rating a Property & Amenities

• House Types & Photo Examples

• House Styles & Photo Examples

• Roof Types & Photo Examples

• Comparables

• Comparable Standards and Guidelines

• MLS Searchs

• Adjustments

• Adjust Features

• Time Adjustments – How to appreciate and depreciate

• Determine Feature Value & Paired Sales Analysis

• Determine Appreciation or Depreciation rate

• Application of Appreciation or Depreciation rate

• Superior, Inferior & Equal Comps

• Pricing & Submissions

• Final Property Price

• Reconciliation Process

• Land Value

• BPO Form Common Fields

• Property & Amenity Rating

• Sources of Information


Of course there are many different lists out there, and depending on the experience of different BPO agents, this list could be accurate or even lack other steps necessary. Let us know if you feel there are other steps worth mentioning.


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Escrow is that bit that makes sure all is fair in love and war when you sell your home and both parties (seller and buyer) are satisfied and fairly treated during this most testing of processes. If you have ever sold a home before – or indeed purchased one – you will have been more than aware of the term "Escrow".


Once the contract has been signed by the seller and once the buyer has put pen to paper, he or she is legally obligated to go ahead with the purchase. Should the seller pull out of the deal and has already signed the contract they may be subject to an administration fee or penalty charge for breaking the contract.

The escrow officer will read the details of the contract and every piece of small print that details fully the sale of that property. The escrow officer can act as a peacemaker in any dispute, verify any parts of the contract that one party doesn't quite understand and generally make the entire process of selling or buying property go smoothly.


The escrow company will make sure the mortgage lender releases any monies at the same time as the deed is recorded so it will reflect the new ownership of the property at the same time. To ensure the transaction is complete and the sale of the home runs smoothly, the escrow officer must hire a neutral arbiter to handle the funds, documents and transfer.



That third party can be the escrow company and in many states, the escrow company will handle the arbitration of the home sale by itself. You may choose which escrow company you hire to handle the sale of your property and in much the same way as you would choose a lender, a real estate agent or a solicitor to handle the different episodes that go with any property sale. Although, in the majority of Real Estate transactions, the seller typically chooses the Escrow Company.


An escrow company will open the process by assigning an account number or reference number that is unique to your sale. The escrow officer will collect the buyer's deposit funds and any other documents which related to the sale of the property.


The escrow officer can be your hand holder during the process and are their for both the buyer and seller, to explain the fine details that you may be unsure of.

PamsVAS - Real Estate Virtual Assistant Services


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The difference between a listing agent and a buyers agent can be confusing to some people. The listing agent works for the person or persons selling a property. The listing agent usually provides the seller with a market analysis of the surrounding area, opinion of listing price and property value and explain in detail all the fees that the seller will be required to pay, including commissions. The listing agent must evaluate all the local homes for sale that are of a similar size and style to the one they will help to sell. This will give the seller and the listing agent an estimate of value and how much a seller should list the house for.

Once the listing agreement is signed, the Listing agent can then prepare the property for showings and place the property on the MLS and major websites with photos and at the agreed upon list price. 


A listing agent has the real focus to sell a home and sorts through interested and prospective buyers and arrange to show them around the property and highlight all the good points about living in that particular property. Often the seller is not present while the listing agent shows prospective buyers around properties.


The selling agent/Buyers agent will represent the buyer, who should have an idea of their pre-approved price range, and a wish list like: certain amount of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, amenities, etc. The Buyer's agent  can then sift through all the homes currently active on the mls and recommend properties that fit their buyers criteria and price range. The can then show the prospective buyer around the property in the same way the listing agent will do for the seller.


Before you sell your home or start looking for a home to buy, be sure you know the differences of the different types of agents, and choose the one that will represent you and your interest solely.

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The latest mortgage rate trends


Investors in financial commodities such as the dollar and government bonds have been watching very closely at mortgage rate trends, primarily to see if the Fed will push interest rates up. According to, a national survey firm of big lenders, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage level is down from 4.31 to 4.30 per cent. It may be a small dip but when you think a year ago (in July 2013) this figure stood at 4.56 per cent, you can start to see a downward trend.


Even the benchmark rate for fixed 15-year mortgages was down from 3.41 to 3.40 per cent in the space of just a week. The thing is rates have been in some kind of financial hibernation for what seems like ages and this might be explained by a series of unstable economic figures that have been coming out.


But experts believe rates might well start to fluctuate during August and September but they are certain to stay well below 5% for some time to come. Earlier this year, experts had predicted that the mortgage rates would start to rise and it has come as a bit of a surprise that here we are, more than half way through the year and the rates are still so low.


It seems that the prime factors that so often move the markets have a very small effect. In other words, a piece of economic news will come out and suddenly the markets move – but then, just an hour later they drop back to the very position they were in before. The pause in massive rate changes has to be down to confusion within investors; they receive economic news and act upon it but caution and fear prevents any chance-taking and opportunistic investing such as the likes we saw back in the earlier years of this century.

Take the example of the latest figures released on unemployment; this ratio of those out of work fell sharply and that means with more people in work, spending should go up. But consumers are still very cautious about spending money and if you don't spend money, the economy just can't get going. Moreover, a stagnant economy means growth cannot happen and interest rates are likely to stagnate too.


Home buyers are wary – very wary. The housing market downturn around 2007 clearly still has a long-lasting and damaging effect on us, and will do so for several years to come.


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It's true, when you think about getting a mortgage for that condo or getting an offer put together for that speed boat on credit, we are upset when the credit company or the mortgage lender turns us down. This is all despite the fact that we have a good salary, a steady job and always pay off our credit card bills on time.


It's a fact that millions of Americans have absolutely no idea how their credit score is calculated. There have been at least four surveys that have taken place in America that ask us what it is we think affects our credit score. In some of the surveys, well over 20 questions have been posed. But while the majority of us know that mortgage lenders and those dishing out credit cards definitely use them to check on us if we submit an application – there are huge gaps in the knowledge surrounding the other factors that could directly help or hinder our credit score.


Generic Scoring


Less than half of all Americans are aware of the three key points where lenders and banks use generic scores. This is where you find your score start to go down just for applying for another credit card, making an application for a mortgage or applying to buy that Harley Davidson Fat Bob on credit. It does not matter if your creditors approved those mortgages, credit card applications or a chance for you to cruise down Route 66 on credit or not – your credit score will be affected by the application process alone.


If there is a risk that you may not be able to pay off that loan, then your credit score will be affected; not a lot of Americans knew that. This could be due to something as simple as being in a job that has some form of instability associated to its industry. But Americans can do something to improve their credit rating and paying all your bills, loans and credit cards on time does go a long way to help.


Many young Americans seem to be less savvy when it comes to understanding what pushes our credit score up or down, particularly the age group between 18 and 32. There are however several online websites that mimic the factors that determine our credit score and it would be prudent to those of us that do not know how our credit score is defined, to pay attentions to it.


Keep your eyes on that credit score and do your research before applying for a loan, credit card or mortgage.

Follow our Blog at PamsVAS for the latest Real Estate Industry news

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It's the economy ...........

     It's been a while since I've updated this beautiful lake area, mostly because the market has been so uneven & spotty that there has been no really clear picture of what direction is prevalent right now. The area overall is such a mix of property types and market segments that what is pushing one segment may have absolutely no influence in another. The gated golf communities on Lake Oconee do drive the area but the downside of that is when they don't do well, the entire area suffers. Construction here tanked a few years back as the luxury market went down the tubes. There were so many jobs that were construction & building trades related that the trickle down effect of unemployment, foreclosures, tighter finance requirements, ARM resets and overall panic sent waves of distress through the entire market & forced some major employers out of business or onto life support. 

     Now, as is happening all over the country in luxury properties, the top of the line market segment is back in the saddle. The wealthy that did well during and after the recession have snapped up stunning properties at a discount and breathed some life back into the construction and building trades for the high end projects. The mid ranges still suffer though. It is easier to sell a 2 million plus property than something for $750k. Finance is still tight & cash is king. Spec homes are an anomaly & there is virtually no construction in the FTB or move-up market segments. With unemployment still ranging from 8.6 to 11% in the lake area, those market segments are unlikely to change. 

     This recovery is different from many economic downturns as there have been few times when distress was so closely associated with the real estate market. In the past, as things improved economically, demand for housing also went up and many business's prospered directly from that. The resulting dependency on good employment numbers to tweak demand has made location, location, location and even more vital indicator in todays' market. The buyers are where the jobs are and no amount of investor purchases can fuel the market the same way.

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You may have heard the term "HUD home" from time to time and wondered what these properties actually were. HUD homes are properties that have been repossessed following the original owners failing to keep up with mortgage payments. A series of foreclosure proceedings takes place and the home once possessed, goes on to become a HUD home. This is because the property is now managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The HUD (Housing and Urban Development Department) becomes the rightful owner following foreclosure and will then seek to sell off the property to a new buyer in order to recover the costs. If you are a member of the public and want to bid on a HUD home you would need a realtor to place a bid for you and the real estate agent must be registered to bid on a HUD home (they will instantly be able to tell you whether they are registered or not).

HUD homes are often located in an area where revitalization is taking place. These are urban areas which may have had a high crime rate or poor development in the past and are now becoming areas where the local government and state housing departments are taking action to improve the area. Good Neighbours – Every District Needs Good Neighbors.


One of the programs to help improve an area which is undergoing revitalization is to buy a HUD home and become part of the Good Neighbour Next Door Scheme. This is where police officers, nurses, teachers, key health personnel, fire fighters, emergency services personnel and doctors can buy a HUD home and bring the level of the neighbourhood up. The incentive is the hefty discount on offer to key personnel buying into a HUD home. Those that have key personnel skills receive a 50 percent discount on the HUD home they buy providing they have lived there for a minimum period of three years. (HERE is more information and a Q&A for this program).
To call a home a "HUD home" is a bit of a misnomer in some respects. The HUD (Housing and Urban Development Department) is not actually a lender or owner but in fact an administrator/agency that serves as an appointee in selling the home on following foreclosure.
The original mortgage used to purchase a home, which would now be classed as a HUD home, would have been insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
For more information on available HUD homes in your area, CONTACT us to put you in touch with the right registered Realtor.
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