Stand Out From the CrowdOne of the most interesting things about showing property in Mammoth Lakes is I can show several different condos in the same complex and get drastically different feedback from the same potential buyers.

This past weekend was a good example. I took my client to see three different condos in the same complex. He wanted to see for himself why the price was so different when the floor plans and views were exactly the same.

The answer boiled down to four key areas:

1. Carpet: It is nice if the carpet is new but if it is not new, is it at least clean? Even though it is easy to clean, a dirty carpet leaves a nasty first impression.

2. Paint: When you enter the front door are the walls scuffed and paint chipped? If you are going to paint before selling, consider a neutral clean palette. The first 30 seconds in the property is important — paint can help make a good first impression.

3. Clutter: Should go without saying but buyers want to visualize the place as their own. All the ski gear, knick-knacks and items you will be taking when you sell, should be out of sight. Since most places are sold furnished in Mammoth Lakes, buyers can get a real sense of what it will be like for them when all the clutter is gone.

4. Kitchen: This is a costlier issue than paint, carpet and clutter but a necessary fix if someone really wants to sell. A total remodel is not necessary. Something as inexpensive as new kitchen cabinet hardware and light fixtures all the way to costlier new appliances will help you sell your property. Even a dated formica kitchen with dark wood cabinets looks better with new hardware. Consider a new faucet, painting the cabinets and upgrading appliances for a real boost.

Granted there are some buyers who want a “fixer” but most want a turn-key property. They want to buy it and enjoy it.

Ask your real estate agent for input. Better yet, ask them to show you a property similar to yours that has made some of these improvements so you can get some fresh ideas m

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strategic defaultConsciously or knowingly ceasing to make mortgage payments is called strategic default. There are many people that knowingly stop paying the mortgage because they cannot afford to continue to do so, and there are others that opt to stop because they believe that this might accelerate their short sale or their loan modification.

Borrowers need to understand the consequences of their actions. Late mortgage payments impact your credit score and thus, they also impact your future ability to borrow.

The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program has specific guidelines, which often allow for a short sale when the borrower is current on the mortgage. Additionally, short sales can be completed for short sale sellers that have not missed a single mortgage payment. For more information on the HAFA program, visit www.MakingHomeAffordable.com

Some homeowners also stop making their Home Owners Association (HOA) payments. This can often be a short sale deal killer. Short sale lenders do not like to pay the seller’s unpaid HOA balance and often will only allocate a small amount of money for HOA document and transfer fees. Most experts advise short sale sellers to continue to pay the HOA dues whenever possible.

Whether to continue to make the mortgage payments or HOA dues is a personal decision that can only be made by the borrower. Understanding the consequences of the late payments can often help to make a more informed decision.

Source: www.ShortSaleExpeditor.com
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Helpful tipsBuying a home can be confusing and overwhelming.  Being educated about the real estate market and staying informed on the latest trends and tips for buying a home are some of the most important factors when looking for a home. A little research can go a long way toward getting you in the door with a minimum amount of stress.

Source:  American Home Shield

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OOPS!According to real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran (you might know her from Shark Tank) if you are in the position to consider making a down payment on another property, now’s the time to do it. According to Corcoran, “It’s the smartest thing you can do right now,” adding that the second-home market is “the last area you can still get a steal of a deal.” But if you’re thinking of taking the plunge, Corcoran advises you act fast. “In the second home market, the homes are abundant but starting to shrink up.” As for Mammoth Lakes specifically, inventory levels are extremely low for both condos and single family homes.

If you decide to make a second home purchase, be sure and avoid some of the biggest mistakes made by second home buyers.

 Buying Where Your Friends Live:  Too often, Corcoran says, people fantasize about vacationing with or near friends and end up making a purchase that isn’t right for them.

Not Having a Budget: Set a budget and stick with it. “Look over your budget,” Corcoran says. She also adds that it’s a smart move to make a low bid on a property that is out of your price range, especially if it has been languishing on the market for months. “People who have the nicest homes always overprice, and it just sits on the market,” she adds.

Focusing on the Wrong Amenities: Don’t buy into a community because of its amenities. If you’re not a tennis player now, you won’t become one because your new development has a court. “Most people generally won’t use the extra stuff and they get blinded by all of that,” Cochran explains.

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For more information on Ms. Corcoran, visit www.BarbaraCorcoran.com

We all know houses are not selling like they used to.  If you are considering selling your home, there are several tips that will make it easier to sell.   First impressions make a huge difference between a sale or no sale.  These tips apply to any economy or market.For Sale

  1.  Less is More:  Even if you have not moved out, removing some furniture can help the home feel more spacious.  This also provides a potential buyer with a better visual of how the property could look as their home.
  2. Odor Control:  Sometimes homes have an odor you may not even notice since you there every day.  Ask a friend (or your agent) to be honest about any odor.  While the house is on the market, take the trash out every day and clean the refrigerator regularly.  If you have pets, keep an eye on the situation (i.e. litter box).  I have been in some gorgeous homes but a strong offensive odor has turned buyers away.
  3. The Little Things:  There are small and often inexpensive changes you can complete yourself to freshen up your home.  For example, replace dated/cracked light switch covers , install new hardware on cabinets, remove broken window treatment (no window covering is often better than broken blinds).  Although potential buyers know the house is lived it, it is helpful to remove excess clutter such as newspapers, mail, laundry and shoes.
  4. A Neutral Appeal:  If you have customized every room with dark paint or wall paper, you may want to update the colors to a more neutral tone.  This can help potential buyers create their own vision for the home and also when they are comparing their options, your home may need less investment and work if they buy the house.
  5. Curb Appeal:  This one is pretty obvious to most but again look at the exterior of your home from the potential buyers’ perspective.  Is the home welcoming?  Is there a clear path to the front door?  Is the front porch clean and appealing?

Keep these tips in mind when selling your property.  The best way to do this is to walk through your home with an honest friend as if you are both touring the home for the first time.  An experience real estate agent can also help.

Source:  Investopedia

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Fractional ownership offers individuals the opportunity to buy partial ownership of generally high-end properties in resort areas (golf course, ski area or beach communities).  Usually the fractional ownerships are divided into fourths, sixths or eighths, with each owner having an equal number of days a year to use the unit.

At first glance it looks and sounds like a time share.  The main distinction between timeshare and fractional ownership is with a timeshare you buy the right to use a certain period of time (not usually flexible), but with fractional ownership you are buying real estate with more usage available and increased flexibility on scheduling.   You get a deeded piece of luxury real estate which you can sell, transfer or trade like regular real estate.    That being said, the cost of fractional ownership is higher than that of typical timeshare, though still much less expensive than whole ownership of a luxury home in the same location.

Depending on the property, most fractional developments provide the amenities of a first-class hotel such as concierge, housekeeping, ground transportation and grocery shopping services.  Fractional properties may be hotel suites, cabins, town houses or detached homes.    By only paying for a fraction of a luxury property, fractional ownership can be a much more cost-effective way to stay in desirable properties and locations.

In Mammoth Lakes there are two luxury fractional opportunities.  80|50 offers fractional ownership in one, two or three bedroom elegant condos with Gondola access, while Tallus offers fractional ownership in 5000 sq foot luxury homes located on Sierra Star Golf Course.

Fractional ownership is not right for everyone.  The family that wants to come to Mammoth every other weekend or an entire month in the summer should consider full ownership properties.  However, the family looking for 4-8 weeks per year in a high-end property offering both onsite and offsite amenities should consider fractional.   A qualified real estate can help you determine if fractional ownership is right for you.

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There are several benefits by getting your home purchase or sale closed before 2013.  The first and most important is you will benefit from the Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness Act.

This law exempts current homeowners from serious income taxes normally incurred when mortgage debt is forgiven – including in cases where an underwater home is sold short. A mortgage lender extends cash to a borrower when they make a mortgage on a home. If that debt is wiped out without actually being paid back, then the cash that was extended to that borrower is normally considered income by the IRS, and is taxed as such.

But when the real estate market crashed, the federal government enacted this Act to eliminate the thousands and thousands of dollars of income taxes the average American who loses a home to foreclosure or short sale would otherwise incur.

This Act is set to expire on December 31, 2012. Most industry insiders expect it will be extended before that time, but growing numbers are surprised it hasn’t already been. And with the upcoming election, some are unsure what will happen.

If you need to sell an underwater home via a short sale, the time to list it was really a few months ago. But some servicers are expediting these transactions so that it might still be possible to get your short sale closed before year’s end. If your escrow closes by December 31st, you’ll avoid the enormous tax burden that could result if the Act expires and you had to do a short sale in the future. (Ask your accountant or financial advisory for advice on your specific situation.)

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Source: Trulia

Myth #1: The homeowner must hShort Sales Mythsave missed mortgage payments in order to qualify for a short sale. 


FACT: Years ago this may have been true, but not in 2012.

A financial hardship should exist or be imminent. But, not all people with financial hardships have missed a mortgage payment. Common hardships include mortgage rate adjustments, loss of job or income, health or medical issues, and divorce among others.

Myth #2: Banks prefer foreclosure to processing a short sale. 


FACT: The truth is that banks would prefer NOT to foreclose on a property because it costs them big bucks. The bank will lose a lot less on a short sale than on a foreclosure.

In fact, many banks are so interested in short sales that they are paying sellers to participate in a short sale versus letting the home go to foreclosure.

Myth #3: In order to the seller to qualify for a short sale, he or she must speak with the lender first and get pre-approved.

FACT: While each lender has a different way in which they process the short sale, overall the best way to get in front of a tough situation is to speak with a knowledgeable agent that knows how each short sale lender operates. Often, when calling the lender, short sale sellers find that they do not get the answers that they want and need from the first line of short sale support.

Myth #4: Short sales don’t close.

FACT: The truth is that about 50% of all nationwide real estate transactions right now involve distressed properties.

Myth #5: Short sales take months (and months) to close.

FACT:  It can take months to close if you don’t know “rules of the road.”  The short sale process must be mastered and it helps quite a bit to know the ins and outs at each of the major lending institutions. There are many short sales that can be approved in a much quicker time frame. The more liens on title, then the more lengthy the short sale process.  A qualified real estate professional can help navigate the process.

Source:  Short Sale Expeditor

Do you plan on renting out the property when you are not in Mammoth? If yes, then you are pretty much eliminating most single family homes.

Why? Most people are not aware most single family homes cannot be rented out on a nightly basis — only some areas within the Town of Mammoth Lakes are zoned transient rentals (check the town’s website).

Next, consider maintenance of the property. Maintaining property at an elevation of 8000′ is a little different than sea level. Owning a condo means you pay monthly Home Owners Association (HOA) dues and in most cases snow is removed in the driveway (parking lot), walkways and areas in front of fire hydrants. Additionally, consider roof snow/ice removal and prevention of frozen pipes are usually handled by the management company.

Owning a single family residence means you must take care of these maintenance concerns yourself. You can hire your own management company, compare pricing, negotiate the contact and make sure the work gets done.

Finally keep in mind the HOA fees in the majority of Mammoth projects include many of the typical monthly out of pocket expenses, including fire insurance and a reserve for repairs (roofs, siding, painting, landscaping, road/side walk repair, etc).

There are many great condos and single family homes in Mammoth Lakes. Before you buy, make sure you have all the facts so you can make a well informed decision. A qualified real estate professional can help.

For previous articles, visit www.sonjabush.com

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