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Unlicensed financial professionals a scary thought

Re: 'Licensing all mortgage brokers carries many benefits' (Nov. 8)

Dear Editor:

Bravo! It is very scary to think that someone would have control over such an important and financially impacting event of someone's life, and not be licensed. Not to mention that without a license any way to track and monitor the activities of an unscrupulous lender is close to impossible.

I have heard many horror stories of consumers that have been taken advantage of but have no understanding of how to seek restitution. A clear, concise and available process for the consumer to file complaints and seek restitution for financial damages needs to be included in the new definition of the mortgage broker and their processes.

Some new definitions of the mortgage broker and real estate agents' job responsibilities should include:

Mortgage brokers should be less transparent in the process of a home purchase. If their failing causes a deal to fall apart, then they should be available for a client to seek restitution. This would prevent the shoddy work by some of these mortgage brokers. Like the title company, it should be included in the residential purchase agreement contract what their responsibilities will be, and they should be required to sign it.

This would force the mortgage broker to do his/her work before sending a potential home buyer to a Realtor with a meaningless piece of paper.

Also, mortgage and loan brokers alike should be required to have at least a two-year college degree as a first step toward working to a requirement for a four-year degree. All existing licenses will be grandfathered into this new law. All licensees need to be under a broker. Any licensee not under a broker's license for six months or more falls back to the new requirement. Any license that is revoked, suspended, or not renewed for six months will fall into the two-year-degree requirement.

This would help to flush out many licensees who wait only for the home-buying season to come and are not true professionals. We need the real estate profession to have the same status as a true professional. Part-time agents make this difficult.

Robert Moreno
Moreno Workgroup
Brentwood, Calif.

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Home staging takes listing from drab to fab

A little fix-up work is all that's required of sellers

Monday, November 13, 2006

By Dian Hymer
Inman News

Staging a house for sale is a concept foreign to many home sellers. But, it has been immensely popular in the San Francisco Bay Area where sellers have reaped huge benefits from their efforts.

You don't have to fix up your home before selling. A home can be sold in virtually any condition, if it's priced right. There are basically two reasons why sellers go to the effort and expense to prepare their homes for sale. One is that it helps to bring a higher price. The other is that it usually results in a quicker sale.

It's imperative to make cost-effective cosmetic improvements in order to realize an increase in profit when you sell. Major renovations made just before selling -- such as completely remodeling kitchens and bathrooms -- are not cost-effective. Although they improve the appeal of the home, you aren't likely to recoup the full amount of your investment on a quick turnaround.

More stories by Dian Hymer

Home seekers' big dilemma: buy now or wait?

Homeowner's insurance: What you need to know

How to find a real estate bargain

More listings, fewer buyers change expectations

What is the best counteroffer strategy?

Pitfalls of contingent home-sale offers


But other cosmetic improvements such as refinishing hardwood floors, replacing outdated floor coverings, removing old window coverings (and leaving them off, in most cases), replacing outmoded light fixtures and painting are worth the money. The reasonsuch fix-ups tend to bring a higher price is that most people have difficulty imagining what a house will look like fixed up. You do the fix-up work so that you don't leave the sale of the house to chance.

Fixer-uppers appeal only to certain buyers who usually want a break on the price to compensate for the condition of the property. By sprucing the property up for sale, you appeal to a much broader audience. The more interest there is, the more chance there is for a sale at a higher price.

The goal of fixing up a house for sale is to get it into move-in condition. Let's say your home has an older, dated kitchen. In its present condition, it's a turnoff to buyers who haven't the time and resources to remodel it. By painting outdated cabinets, painting the walls in a trendy decorator color, changing cabinet knobs, updating light fixtures, changing the floor and adding stainless-steel appliances, your kitchen won't be new. But, it will appear fresh and inviting.

You make cosmetic improvements to overcome buyers' objections. If you sold your home with a dismal kitchen, most buyers would discount the house because they couldn't live with the kitchen.

You open your home up to a larger pool of buyers by doing the improvements mentioned above. Rather than rejecting the house, buyers feel they can move right in without first having to a lot of work. And, you accomplish this without major remodeling; just sprucing the home up to an acceptable level.

HOME SELLER TIP: Sellers often resist spending money on a property they're selling. This is particularly so in the current market, where they may have less chance of receiving multiple offers and a generous price. However, properly preparing your home for sale can give you an advantage in today's challenging market.

Buyers are pickier than they were a year ago when home prices were rising quickly. Currently, appreciation is flat, at best. Many buyers are concerned that prices are falling. So, their enthusiasm for paying huge prices regardless of the condition of the property has waned. Buyers are looking for value.

Getting a house fixed up for sale takes time and money. A good real estate agent can be an invaluable ally in this endeavor. In fact, you should consult with your agent before embarking on any projects to ensure that you make value-enhancing improvements.

THE CLOSING: Resist the temptation to show your home before it's ready. You could lose a prospective buyer who can't visualize how your house will look after the improvements are done.

Dian Hymer is author of "House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide," Chronicle Books.


What's your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to

Copyright 2006 Dian Hymer


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