Fannie Mae Agent Matters
Agent Matters
May 2017

Tax Refunds and Your Home - Why use one to improve the other?

Tax Refund
It's tax refund time. And while many of your past or current clients already have plans for spending their refund, some may not. That's where you might chime in with some sound advice. "Using your tax refund on upgrade projects can reap long-term benefits. Whether you're looking to sell in the next few months or many years down the road, improvements big or small can yield great returns," notes Bruce Elliott, president of the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association.
And it's not just something to consider at tax time. Homeowners should think about remodeling projects as long-term investments, whether they splurge on upgrades with a refund or take out a loan. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, interior projects that appeal to potential buyers and can provide the most bang for your buck include kitchen upgrades, bathroom renovations, and new wood flooring.
Cameron and Eden Barnett, both 29, of Troy, Ohio, recently bought an 1850s brick farmhouse and used a HomeStyle Renovation mortgage to gut the small kitchen and enlarge the space for modern appliances and fixtures. And even though the renovation took longer than expected and was challenging for the contractor because of thick walls, they say they would make the same decision all over again. "It just feels better to be putting money into the house when we are fairly confident we will one day earn it back – and then some – when we eventually move," says Eden.
For clients looking to upgrade the outside of their home, exterior projects that are both appealing to buyers and have potential for a positive ROI include new roofing, an upgraded garage door, new vinyl siding, and new vinyl windows, says NAR.

REO Agent and Repair Vendors Work Together in Pico Rivera, California!

by Aileen Cabalu, Fannie Mae Sales Manager
When an agent receives a property assignment, rarely will they find a property in turn-key condition. There is a lot of hard work involved in getting an REO property ready for the market especially when repairs are highly recommended. Agents are relied upon to present their opinion on how to best market the property. Establishing the marketing strategy is crucial in fulfilling Fannie Mae's goal of stabilizing neighborhoods and providing homeownership to owner occupants.
Misael Vasquez
On one of Fannie Mae's southern California property inspections, we visited several properties and noticed that those assigned to Misael Vasquez, an agent with Century 21 Allstars, in Pico Rivera, California, stood out from the rest. First, we noticed his properties had impressive curb appeal: the exterior landscaping was well maintained, grass was neatly mowed, shrubs were trimmed, mulch covered the flower beds and there were no weeds growing between the lines of the concrete driveways. The interior of the properties didn't disappoint either. They showcased the quality of all the repairs; new flooring, interior paint, matching fixtures and updated kitchens.
Fannie Mae asked Misael to share a few of the best practices that he adheres to when working with our assets. Misael graciously shared with us his involvement in the repair process and how he was able to accomplish remarkable improvements on his properties.
Fannie Mae (FM): Can you tell me the steps you take in recommending an 'as-repaired' strategy?
This property professionally repaired by Economu Construction and listed by Misael Vasquez.
Misael: The first thing that I do is to research the past 12 months listing history of the property. This helps me understand the marketing history and the condition the property was in prior to becoming a REO. In addition to researching comparables in the area, I also survey other properties in the same neighborhood bought by investors to find out the type of materials used when they repaired their properties. This gives me an idea of what is currently being offered in our market, which helps in completing the Broker Price Opinion (BPO). We need to paint a clear picture of the property, the competition and the repairs that the property requires to make it competitive with the other listings in the area.
FM: What do you do when bidding for the repairs?
Misael: As soon as the repair vendor is identified, I make an effort to schedule a meeting with the repair vendor at the property. We go over the list of the suggested repairs and walk through the entire property; this is when the repair vendor makes his repair recommendations. Meeting with the repair vendor early in the process allows me to capture the change orders and incorporate the additional repair items at the beginning of the bidding process.
FM: Do you use any type of method or tools to compile your list of repairs?
Misael: I do have a template that I use as a guide and I also have pictures of the best comparables in the area on my tablet to show the repair vendor what our competition looks like. It helps them understand what I'm trying to accomplish for this particular asset.
FM: What type of reaction do you get from the repair vendor when you share with them your vision for the property?
Misael: They get it. Walking the property with the repair vendor and showing them photos help them understand the repairs that I am recommending. We now see buyers who are looking for better quality on repairs. Buyer's standards have changed in terms of color schemes and the type of flooring used. We're seeing more gray tones, white kitchens, and laminate flooring.
FM: You mentioned earlier that meeting with the repair vendor minimizes change orders. What do you do that is effective in avoiding additional change orders?
Misael: It's important to meet with the repair vendor before bids are submitted and then anticipate that other repairs will be needed, so we should add those to the scope and make the recommendation up front. The key is walking the property room by room, inch by inch and looking at the property as if I'm the owner. We try to capture all the repairs that the property needs at the beginning of the process.
FM: Once the bids have been approved, what is your involvement when the repairs are ongoing?
Misael: As I perform my weekly inspections, I take the time to check on the progress of the repairs to ensure that the work is up to par. I always communicate with the repair vendor and let them know if repairs are not acceptable so that the issue is addressed immediately. This gives the repair vendor the opportunity to submit change orders if necessary.
FM: When the repairs are nearing completion, do you have any additional process in place before signing off on the repairs?
Misael: I ask the repair vendor to notify me when the repairs are almost complete. This allows both of us to conduct a final walk through of the property and identify last minute, minor repairs. The repair vendor is then able to submit a change order to ensure that the property is completely done prior to listing it.
FM: Any final thoughts on working with REO assets?
Misael: I know we are all doing our best to make it easy for our client and encourage everyone to do their jobs right the first time. Agents are the first to see the property prior to trash out and their level of engagement in bringing the property into marketable condition influences how well the property will be received by the buyers.
FM: We are grateful for the opportunity to learn from Misael, who has demonstrated that market knowledge, collaboration, setting expectations up front and keeping an open line of communication are the key to successfully repairing a property. Fannie Mae is excited to share these best practices - HomePath Pro agents and repair vendors are all on the same team; working towards the same goal of being the industry's leading housing provider.

It Takes Two to Tango... or Tangle! What Agents Should Know About Working With Other Agents

by Cathie Ericson

It takes two to tango... or tangle, and that's often the case with real estate agents. In almost every transaction, you'll be working with another real estate professional, and the onus is on you to keep the relationship and transaction cordial, for the client's sake.
Here are some tips from seasoned pros on how to ease agent-to-agent relations.
Don't take on your clients' emotions.
There's no question that the home buying and selling process is emotional, no matter which side you're on, but a real estate agent needs to keep themselves from being caught up in it.
"Typically, when a real estate agent on the other side of a transaction is being difficult, it's because their client is being difficult," points out REALTOR® Matt O'Neill of Matt O'Neill Real Estate in Charleston, S.C. He has seen agents who feel it is their duty to get just as angry as their client to fight for what they feel their client deserves, but that reaction only serves to make the entire transaction more challenging.
"I've learned to set positive expectations with the agent on the front end and talk about working together to have a smooth transaction and a successful close for everyone. I always stress win/win," he says.
Communicate regularly.
John Steele of Steele San Diego Homes was recently in a transaction that almost went south because an agent suddenly went dark and wouldn't communicate over a relatively minor issue that could have been easily dealt with if the agent had been in touch.
"It's almost shocking how many agents won't respond to multiple voicemails or emails," he says, adding that has helped him see how being open and available can make a dramatic difference throughout a transaction.
Remember that you're all human.
Philadelphia-area Realtor® Denise Supplee recently worked with an agent who was short, to the point of being condescending. For the sake of her client, she endured some unprofessional behavior, but she spoke up one day when he was downright rude.
"It turns out he was under a lot of pressure with an investor client and hadn't even realized how he was coming across," she says. When she called him out, his demeanor changed and the transaction continued on a more genial note. "As with any relationship, we need to know when to let things roll and when to speak up," says Supplee.
Remember, you're all in this together.
While some real estate agents may see the rest of the profession as competitors, savvy ones know they'll get farther if they cooperate. In fact, the most important relationships you develop are with other agents in your selling area, says Doreen Courtright, licensed associate real estate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York City.
Agents will be more accommodating for others who have been easy to work with in the past. "You want to have a reputation as someone who gets deals done and will make the transaction smooth and drama free," she says.

On the go protection – Securing your mobile devices!

mobile data
Mobile devices make working on-the-go easier than ever; we use them to conduct business, keep in contact, snap pictures, shop and bank online, and listen to music. Increasingly, we're also storing important (and sensitive) personal and company information on them. Mobile devices also offer new opportunities for hackers and thieves.
Hackers and data thieves are constantly looking for points of entry into networks and computer systems. Every personal device that connects to a network can provide an opportunity for unauthorized access and intrusion if not properly configured. You can minimize the risk of information loss and theft by storing sensitive information on your mobile device only when it is absolutely necessary, and when you do, making sure it is secure. A good rule of thumb - without proper protection, your mobile device is an open book.
Here are important tips:
  • Leverage built in password management software and apps to store sensitive information and passwords securely. If your phone doesn't have a built-in manager, there are many free apps available for easy set up.
  • Disable automatic Wi-Fi connecting - configure your device to let you "approve" the access before you connect to an open network.
  • Turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections when you're not using them.
  • Never open an unexpected email attachment until you have verified the source and purpose. Email source and content can easily be forged so treat each email cautiously.
  • Own your online presence: It's up to you to protect your personal and business information. When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It's ok to limit who you share information with.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete or not click.


N.J. Realtor helps first-time homebuyers purchase their first home with HomeReady

by Jonathan M. Lawless, Fannie Mae Vice President of Product Development and Affordable Housing

Alex Mosquera
"In my experience, some first-time buyers will have too much debt to quality for an FHA loan," shares Alex Mosquera, 35, broker/owner of Terra Realtors in Cranford, NJ. "That's where HomeReady® mortgage can be a great fit."
Mosquera's boutique realty firm handles REO properties for Fannie Mae and other corporate lenders, retail real estate, and short sales. He recently helped a young family of four qualify for their first home with HomeReady mortgage, designed for low- to moderate-income borrowers.
HomeReady allows buyers to put as little as 3 percent down, eliminating a home-buying barrier cited by many young renters. It also requires buyers to complete an online education course by Framework Homeownership, available in English and Spanish, that has consistently received favorable reviews from consumers. If more help is needed, borrowers can work with a HUD-approved housing counseling agency to improve their credit and understanding of the mortgage process.
Fannie Mae's research shows that borrowers frequently misunderstand mortgages and loan terms. The Framework course helps them know what to expect during the application and approval process and after closing.
AA Barnett house
With the loan, the Peraltas purchased a Fannie Mae REO property in Scotch Plains, a short drive from Cranford. "This product is definitely bringing something positive to the lending industry," says Mosquera.
Interested in learning more? Check out our HomeReady mortgage toolkit designed for real estate professionals.
Need to help homebuyers learn more about the home buying process? Step by Step instructions are right on your mobile phone...

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Help Prevent Fraud

Fannie Mae is committed to preventing fraud perpetrated by any party or parties involved in transactions associated with a Fannie Mae REO property. Fannie Mae expects agents to consistently and accurately follow both the letter and spirit of all Fannie Mae policies, procedures, functions, guidelines and philosophies, and to comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

If you are aware of or suspect inappropriate activity in connection with a Fannie Mae property, please immediately report Mortgage Fraud or call our Fraud Tips Hotline, 1-800-2FANNIE (1-800-232-6643).

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