The Branch Team visits Cowboys Stadium

Thanks to Dave McKinney with Ignite, we had the opportunity to attend the last pre-season game. The Dallas Cowboys took on the Miami Dolphins.

Getting to Cowboys Stadium is a feat in itself.  A past client is the general manager of a local hotel so we parked there and took a cab to the stadium.  This wound up being a great idea.  Parking in the nose-bleeds (read: a very long walk) costs $35 and decent onsite parking is $60. The cab was $57 for the roundtrip and I didn’t have to drive!

The new stadium seats 80,000 and has room for about 111,000 with people standing on the ends. The jumbo-tron must be one of the wonders of the world. I’ve never seen an HD picture that large.  Everything else about the place is first-class.  Our seats were on the mezzanine level and offered a nice vantage point to watch the game.  The only time I watched the jumbo-tron was for field goals because you could not tell from watching the field.

The Cowboys did not play their starting line-up.  Stephen McGee was the starting quarterback and played the entire game.  He led the team to a last-minute win by getting the team in place to kick a short field goal. 

We had a nice evening out on the town and the home-team won. Thanks Dave!

Nevada Political Candidate Faces Copyright Lawsuit

It appears that Sharon Angle’s campaign is the target of a Copyright Infringement Suit according to Fox News (Click here for the original story).

Fox is reporting that the campaign allegedly reprinted two stories from the Las Vegas Review Journal. What’s really interesting is that the Review Journal sold their rights to Righthaven, who actually filed the suit.  Fox News reports that Righthaven scours the Internet looking for copies of Review Journal stories.  When they find someone with deep pockets, they purchase the copyrights and file suit.

If you’ve read my other blogs on Copyright Infringement you know I’m dead set against the theft of intellectual property.  What I find really interesting about Righthaven is that they have turned this into a business.  Find a potential violation, buy the rights, and file a suit.

This tactic reminds me of the now-famous Getty Images letter program. Getty hired a third-party to scan the Internet looking for copies of their images. Once found, they would send the site owner a letter demanding proof of licensing or a fee between $1000 and $1500 per image as a settlement in lieu of a lawsuit.

One of their major issues was that the vast majority of the images they sell have not been registered with the Federal Copyright Office.  The lack of registration severely limits what they are entitled to collect. That said, if the material is registered, statuatory damages can be huge.

There are a couple of lessons in this for bloggers. 

First, never “reblog” articles.  You’re better off rewriting the story and referencing it rather than “reblogging” it (note this does not apply to AR’s reblog button).  Second, always use your own photos or purchase them from a reliable source.


Been Fishing Lately?

Gina was out of town visiting College Station for the Texas A&M game and I took the evening off. 

I spent some time with my oldest son and my granddaughter.   

We took in a little dinner at Palio’s, a highly-rated local pizza establishment in Frisco.  After dinner we went out, picked up some worms, and went out to Lake Lewisville and did a little fishing.  

If you’ve ever taken a little boy fishing, you know they just can’t sit still. Little girls must be wired differently because she simply sat there and watched her fishing pole. It was a level of concentration that I never expected from a 5 year old. 

The evening wore on and while we never caught anything, everybody had a good time.  It’s hard to believe she’s five and starting school already. I have to remember to slow down more often and enjoy her while she’s still a child.

The Branch Team Selects Nations Home Warranty

We are pleased to announce that we have selected Nations Home Warranty to provide no-cost seller coverage for our listings. 

Nations Home Warranty is Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with thirteen years of local home warranty experience. When it is hot or cold, they know it, and are here to help repair the appliances and systems in the home. 

Their residential service contracts include Customer Care Representatives who will “walk” with the homeowner to get the repairs completed. No phone jail! When the homeowner makes a phone call to Nations Home Warranty, there will always be a live person at the Nations Home Warranty end of the telephone line.

Click here to visit the Nations Home Warranty website.

Short Sales 101 – Anatomy of a Short Sale

Short Sales 101 - Anatomy of a Short Sale - Part 1

More than 80 percent of distressed homeowners who go into foreclosure have never contacted their lender or a real estate professional for help.  That’s a staggering number when help and relief are available.

In this blog, part of a multi-part series, we’ll discuss the different pit stops and road blocks along the Short Sale path; who the players are, what documents are required, and we’ll give a cursory overview of how Short Sales work.  We’ll explore these concepts in more detail as we apply them to real world situations throughout the series.

An important thing to understand about Short Sales is that the process is anything but “short.”  The only thing “short” about a Short Sale is the payoff to the lender.  Whether you are a buyer or a seller, patience is your friend while the real estate professional negotiates the Short Sale with the lender.  Otherwise your hair will gray at an alarming rate.

The first thing the homeowner needs to prepare for is explaining the hardship.  Lenders do not care if you simply owe more now than the house is worth; they are looking for a valid hardship. You originally qualified for the mortgage and the lender is looking to see what has changed financially.  A decrease in the home’s value alone is not qualification for a Short Sale.  So what is? 

Examples of valid financial hardships are: Loss of Job, Reduced Income, Mandatory Job Relocation, Business Failure, Death of a Spouse or Family Member, Severe Illness, Medical Bills, Divorce or Separation Payment Increase, Mortgage Adjustment, Insurance or Tax Increase, Military Service, Damage to Property, Too Much Debt, Inheritance, and Incarceration.

While not an all-inclusive list, it’s a good start. If you’re able to prove any of these hardships, the lender will seriously look at your case.

The easiest way to understand the Short Sale process is to think about qualifying for a mortgage.  When you apply for a mortgage, the lender reviews your recent bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc. to determine your ability to repay the mortgage. 

When you apply for a Short Sale, it’s like undoing a mortgage.  The lender will want to see the same documentation, along with a hardship letter, to determine your inability to repay the mortgage.  If you can do this successfully, the lender will likely approve a Short Sale.

In Anatomy of a Short Sale, Part 2, we’ll look at what makes up a Short Sale Package.

Based on The Field Guide to Short Sales. Copyright © 2010 by Tom & Gina Branch.

Life’s Little Reminders

Double Rainbow Over Plano Texas

I had planned on releasing another blog in my Short Sales 101 series, but I snapped this photo this evening and it reminded me of something. 

So far it’s been one of those weeks-nothing has gone right. 

On Monday, we drove 37 miles to look at a listing that will be coming on the market only to arrive on location and discover the tenants had the doors bolted from the inside and had gone out through the garage.  Since all I had was a front door key I could not access the property. I’ll run out there again tomorrow and see if I can finish up the on-site work and get it listed.

Today, I took the SMART car in to Dallas to have the wrap installed. When I arrived, the installation manager remarked that it was the second SMART car in for a RE/MAX installation and mine was not on the schedule.  When I walked in the shop, I found my wrap being installed on someone else’s car. The poor guy working the installation was quit irritated as he removed the wrap from the car.  They were happy I got there a little early before they finished the job! Now I’ll have to wait another week before they’ll have the skins ready to be installed again.

This evening, we ran out to Irving to do a listing at 5:30 PM.  While we were there the sky opened up and we had quite a storm.  We need the rain, but the timing was bad, leaving us damp in both body and mind.

We were exhausted, both mentally and physically, as we drove from Irving to Plano.  We decided to stop and have dinner along the way at II Brothers, a neat local pub and restaurant.  As we pulled in the parking lot, the sun poked through the clouds and a double rainbow formed to the east.

The sight of it lifted my spirits and reminded me to take each day as a gift because we never know if there will be another.  I learned that lesson the hard way as I watched my spouse, best friend, and business partner survive cancer a few years ago. 

However, the daily grind can dull the senses until something comes along to remind you of the lesson.  This evening’s double rainbow was my reminder.

I’ll get back to Short Sales 101 tomorrow…

Short Sales – Distressed Homeowners Deserve Help

Short Sales - Distressed Homeowners Need HelpDoug and Lorena Foster’s blog titled, “When The Wolf is Running The Hen House” struck a nerve with me.

“They are over and done with…” Despite their thoughts, Short Sales are going to be around at least through the end of 2012 when The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act expires.  If you need some background on the subject read my blog titled, “Short Sales 101 – Introduction.”

“Is this our new job? We don’t think so!”  Short Sale listing agents are doing two and three times the work per closing but the end result is so satisfying.  When I first meet with distressed homeowners and they realize there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s like the weight of the world is lifted off their shoulders.  If this is my role for the next few years, I can live with it.

“Ultimately 9 out of 10 fail.”  Trained and experienced Short Sale agents close 9 out of 10.  The bigger problem is so many agents don’t have a clue how to list and close Short Sales and should not be attempting to provide services they are clearly not qualified to provide.  Not on do they do a great disservice to their clients but they harm the profession and violate the Code of Ethics (for REALTORS®).  

We’ve closed Short Sales in as little as 64 days from listing to funding.  Do they all go that smooth? No, they do not.  There are so many variables that can impact the timeline. 

We’ve had buyers tie up a home in a contract while they looked for another property. We had a buyer enter into a contract and fail to disclose they had a home to sell.  They were betting on months to get the short sale approved.  I’ll bet both the agent and the buyers were choking when we had the sale approved in 22 days!  Both terminated their contracts after we gave them notice the sale had been approved and left us to start the process again. 

I’ve sold some properties four times to find a buyer who could close.  I’m to the point that I interview every selling agent who brings me a contract. Do they understand the process?  Have they prepared their clients for it as well?

We encourage homeowners across the United States to get educated on the options available should they become financially distressed. Short Sales are a great tool, providing relief to all parties.

Just remember to choose a REALTOR® with a proven Short Sale track record to negotiate on your behalf. Making the right choice can mean the world of difference to your financial future.