Fool’s Gold

Hands cradling fools gold

Technology is changing our lives with blinding speed, leaving a lot of folks worried or excited about changes in the real estate industry. With the sole aim to pay less, home sellers are embracing discount brokerages all over the country. To those who are experienced in selling their own property, this might be a good option. To those who aren’t, it could be costly or even disastrous. The DIY movement has been expanding exponentially, and it’s understandable that a DIY approach would apply to selling a home too. But, like with anything else, there are pitfalls to navigate.

Buying Land

Green land for sale with trees under a blue sky

On the surface, buying a piece of land seems simple enough, especially if the land is high and dry–a level cleared pasture. But, a nice-looking piece of land can also have pitfalls that may not be apparent without investigation. To buy raw land hoping to build either a dream home, a subdivision or a new factory requires a significant investment in order to reveal what’s going on under the surface. It is the reason that 104 hours of study is required to gain an “Accredited Land Consultant” designation (ALC) from the National Association of Realtors, by far the most intensive course of study of and real estate designation.

The 1031 Exchange Cap Debate

office building from outside

In the current political landscape, the age-old tug of war between liberals and conservatives is as tense as ever. The urge to dismantle what is perceived to be a tool solely for the rich is truly misguided. In place for over 100 years, the Internal Revenue Code Section 1031, is a valuable tool to defer capital gains taxes on income real estate, and it benefits landowners directly, and many other people indirectly.

The Value of Inspection

An embroidered "house" that says "home, sweet home".

Is what you see what you get, upside down or right-side up? When a buyer goes under contract on a home or commercial building, the due diligence period begins. Now it is the buyer’s chance to unearth anything that needs repair or replacement. An attorney or title company will look for defects in the title, encroaching lot lines, hidden easements, etc. Most of the time it’s a material defect that needs attention, and this can only be revealed by home inspection by a knowledgeable inspector. Sometimes, even an experienced inspector can get lazy and make a mistake.

The Two Faces of Dual Agency

A stone with two faces carved into it

In the world of commercial real estate, it is common for a listing agent to sell a property to a buyer who is happy to represent himself, thus the agent would be entitled to the entire brokerage fee. This frequently happens because commercial buyers are typically savvy about the process, and comfortable with its “buyer beware” environment. But, in the residential world, this is rarely the case, although a surprising percentage of buyers brush aside the opportunity to have a buyer agent represent them, be their advocate, their “bad cop”, and their research resource.

Don’t Give it Away

The exterior of a large, modern home with the sky reflected in the windows

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “not gonna give it away!” I’d have enough to retire. That expression always comes from the homeowner based on whispers and third-hand information, rarely from actual sales data. More often than not, homeowners divine the price they think their house is worth, perhaps to recover renovation costs or a refinanced mortgage, and that becomes their target sales price.

What is “Due Diligence”?

A girl studying

When you buy a house, or even a banana, you are supposed to do this: due diligence. How “diligent” you are lowers your risk in the purchase, and determining what is “due” forms the list of questions that need to be answered. In the case of a banana, your due diligence is simple – if fruit flies are circling, you’ll pass. For a real estate investment, conducting thorough due diligence using trusted experts is a must. Even then, there are always things that can be missed. But, the large items – the roof, HVAC systems, etc. – should be looked at carefully.

Buyers Beware

A person taking five dollars out of their wallet

Buyers of real estate are empowered by the internet’s ability to view properties in great detail, and this has enhanced if not replaced the real estate agent for the purpose of finding properties to consider, especially in the current social-distancing environment. They often call the listing agent directly to ask questions and schedule showings, which is their right. But, it is a mistake to assume a buyer’s best interests are equally well served by the listing agent whose loyalty is exclusive to the seller.