For many people, owning property or real estate is a bit like owning a car. You work hard to be able afford it, you take care of it, and you rely on it so much everyday that you can even start taking it for granted. But, as with cars, many of us lay-people are suddenly woefully confused or uninformed as soon as it gets beyond the basics. Sifting through Craigslist ads for used cars without the advice of a mechanic friend? Not the wisest choice. Taking the plunge and planning to later fix the thing ourselves? Whoa. But before our metaphor gets away from us and spins out of control, we’ll just say this: when dealing with real estate, it’s best to take a lesson from the old song and, “let the pros do it.” After all, this is what they do all day every day, right?
If you own a home, you’ve probably received at least a dozen little notes over the last few months from local agents letting you know that if you’re thinking of selling, today is the day and you should give them a call right this second. Before picking up the phone though, we thought we’d ask Alethea King of Spectrum Enterprises LLC for a little advice and insider info about real estate in Baltimore, how to stay calm during the process, and the ins-and-outs of “short sales.”
If you’re new to all of this, a short sale is basically a sale of real estate in which the proceeds from selling the property will fall short of the balance of debts against the property. In other words, if your home is “underwater,” a short sale would mean selling it for an amount that will still leave you owing money on it. It’s a viable option for anyone who has suffered an unforeseen hardship and can provide supporting documentation or evidence to the creditor. Examples include loss of employment, sudden illness or the death of a spouse. The process of completing a short sale is highly regulated, and definitely requires professional short sale negotiating help, but with the boom in short sales (owed largely, of course, to the subprime mortgage crisis and the global financial crisis of the last several years) it is becoming a more popular, and more easily navigated process for those who qualify.
Now, in terms of why we keep hearing that now is the time to put our home on the market, King says this: “Gorgeous weather puts everyone in a good mood. This weather is ideal for selling a home because gardens are in bloom. In the late fall, home seekers are reminded of the leaves they’ll need to rake, and in the winter they’ll often see how much snow needs to be shoveled.” But right now, the weather is still enjoyable—not too hot, but not yet getting cold.
Sure, this all makes sense, but selling a home can still seem like a lot of work. To the wary home owner, King says, “It’s a juggling act and most people get nervous when buying or selling a home. But, that’s normal because a home is usually our biggest financial asset. As a buyer, you don’t want to overpay and as a seller, you don’t want to sell too low. So, how can you make a sound investment decisions that make you feel good for years to come? The best way to protect yourself is to be proactive throughout your real estate transaction. The details and paperwork can be so overwhelming that it’s easy to become passive. Instead you should get active and be involved in the process! You’re the only one who can make the important decisions that will affect the course of your home purchase or sale. Unless you are a real estate expert and have a lot of free time, you’ll probably have to rely on various real estate professionals to assist with your transaction.”
Indeed. And we’ll want to. But how do you know who to ask for help? Or what you can reasonably expect from one of these professionals? “Spectrum handles everything from identifying a hardship that the creditor will consider, to the end result of negotiations with the bank, buyer and the services of our certified short sale negotiator that is in constant communication with most lenders on a daily basis addressing short sales,” says King. “Our advisors are here to help you with buying and selling your property in Baltimore, Maryland and the surrounding areas. But we don’t stop there; we take real estate brokerage to the next level with property management, real estate investment consultation, construction management, real estate concierge services, short sales and foreclosure consultation. We can determine if a short sale is right for you, and help you address deficiencies, credit concerns and assist in the negotiations with the bank and buyers.” So in other words, they’ll handle all the overwhelming stuff, while you spruce up the garden and consider what makes the most sense for you and your family. Oh, the joys of leaving it to the professionals.
Spectrum Enterprises, LLC
Stone Mill Building
1340 Smith Avenue, Suite 200
Baltimore, MD 21209