How To Save Money When You Sell

How to Save Money when you Sell


There are so many ways a seller can lose money when selling and it starts with not hiring the right expert realtor.
You need a Pitbull negotiator. Someone that is relentless. People don’t understand how important an aggressive negotiator is for the sale of your home.
When another agent accepts a lower commission they are not going to do much marketing and they are not a skilled negotiator.
If they can’t negotiate their own commission, why would you want them to negotiate your sales price?

    Negotiating Points

  • Settlement Date
  • Inclusions/Exclusions
  • Settlement Date

Be very careful with seller’s assist most Realtors will make you pay a commission off total sales price, not your net number. Because it is their policy to be paid on the sales price. When those agents sell my listings, We make sure they know commission is paid off of the net. Why should a realtor get paid more because buyers bumped the price up?
You need someone to treat your money like it is their own.
We spend thousands on marketing to bring you the most amount of potential buyers as possible so you can yield the most money for your home.  Hire an Expert Realtor with Experience the average Realtor lists 1-2 per yr

Positive Housing Market Trends

It appears that July 08 has offered us some positive housing market trends.  There has been an increase in resales and new construction in most parts of the country.

Don’t get too excited now.  The market has lowered home prices due to the overwhelming number of foreclosures and short sales.  With prices being so low, first time homebuyers have now entered the market. 

This seems to me to be great news.  Prices needed to level off.  Prices could not have continued to soar, no one would be able to afford them.

Now Maybe the Time to Remodel

I have heard on the news,got multiple home center advertisements, and have seen the ads.  Kitchen Renovation by a home remodeling contractor finishing the tile work

Now is the time to remodel!  Prices are down at the retail centers.   Many homeowners are reluctant to put money into their home for fear of house prices falling. 

However, that can be far from the truth.  If you are planning on staying in the home the improvement is well worth it.  Or if you are planning sooner it still could be worth it as well.  It all depends on the numbers.

The bottom line here is if it is time for you to remodel, now is the time to get a good deal.


Despite everything you here in the media and read newspaper, The Swain Group are selling homes!  Last week Carol Swain sold two properties.

We also have listed two properties:  42 Buttonwood in Levittown and 627B Rose Hollow in Yardley.

To see info on these properties visit

So if you are thinking of selling your home, or looking to buy give us a call at (215) 757-7257.

Going “Green” Can Be Deceptively Easy

by PJ Wade

Now that “green” is in, taking an environmental stance seems easy. In the post-Gore crush of organizations jumping on the “green” bandwagon, Canadians should not neglect the thousands of individuals — alone and in groups — who dedicated years, decades and lifetimes to raising their voices to protect the environment while society was in a more destructive mode.

When “green” was just another term for money, being pro-environment could make you unpopular. Criticize industries and corporations for polluting and you may have been considered anti-jobs. Complaints about off-gases from building materials and concerns about environmental damage caused by harvesting lumber were swept aside by traditions in construction and architecture. Consumers played follow the leader and generally were not receptive to developers who tried to introduce new ideas.

The current shift to “green” is driven both by concern for the environment and by profit. The corporate and entrepreneurial worlds have embraced this marketing opportunity and “labeled green” products and services are popping up everywhere — sometimes with less net environmental benefit than advertising campaigns would have us believe.

As we search for improvements in the way we approach everything from laundry, lighting and lawns to fabrics and building materials, let’s take time to support the individuals and their non-profit organizations that have long supported our environment. Search out a group that concentrates on a cause you believe in or a place you want preserved and say ‘thank you.’ The best sign of appreciation is to pitch in since battles are still raging.

Ontario-based Earthroots, a twenty-one-year-old non-profit involved in grassroots activism and advocacy directed at preserving Canadian wilderness, wildlife and watersheds, is sustained by its 12,000 supporters across Canada. Among Earthroots’ successful initiatives and victories are continued protection for 44 per cent of the ancient red and white pine forests of the Temagami region, and for several million hectares of environmentally-sensitive Ontario land. Public education through the Wolves Ontario project launched in 2000 has led to hunting bans in Algonquin Park and restrictions on hunting across the province. Earthroots continues to battle logging in Algonquin Park if you are looking for a cause.

Environmental groups like Earthroots also work hard to educate the public. Among Earthroots’ activities is the Changing of the Seasons Ceremony in Temagami, hosted by an Ojibway elder to mark the fall equinox. In 2006, almost 100 people gathered for a weekend of wilderness camping to experience the old-growth forest first hand. Add your name to the Wilderness Defenders email list at if you’d like an invitation. Backcountry experience is not essential.

Beyond “Green”

Be prepared for fallout when the full impact of this new “green” wave strikes real estate head on.

Research new options and weigh the costs of conversion before you champion a new “green” strategy. Believe that everything labeled “green” is automatically good and you may be stuck with unnecessary costs. Unless repercussions of caring for our environment and wanting to minimize pollution are anticipated, property owners and tenants may be hit with surprises:

  • Just as urea formaldehyde insulation (uffi) and aluminum wiring were once approved for use by the government, but are now targeted as liabilities by insurance companies, there will be innovations which may eventually affect insurability. The Internet offers great opportunities to investigate the global track record of products and approaches before you commit.
  • Will non-green houses and condominium complexes incur mortgage or insurance penalties just as properties with knob-and-tube wiring or lead plumbing do today?
  • Since interior air quality can be worse that exterior, health insurance companies could conceivably factor this into their evaluation of claims for respiratory illness or other conditions where long term exposure could be a significant factor.
  • The terms “green” and “organic” are not as rigidly controlled as Canadians would like to believe. Nor does either label automatically indicate superior design or functionality. During this trial-and-error period, purchases of big-ticket items like heating systems should be approached with caution and careful investigation. Do you remember property owners who switched to “cheap” electric heating with government assurances only to tear out their hair and their electric furnaces when hydro costs went through the roof?
  • Higher prices for new housing and for renovations may be the result of increasingly stringent government regulations. Although “green” solutions should not significantly increase costs, some how consumer costs do keep going up.

Can you think of another example of government assurance leading to consumer regrets and expense? Many communities are living with something or without something that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Embrace the environmental movement, but learn from those unsung heros from all walks of life who have watched waves of concern come and go. Many of the most successful environmentally-friendly solutions and choices are the simplest. Work with the environmental pioneers in your community to ensure this “green” wave is not a passing fad, but the beginning of a new way of thinking and living.

Fraud: $4 Billion and Rising

by Lew Sichelman 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s estimate that mortgage fraud costs the lending business $1.2 billion a year is off the mark by more than $3 billion, a fraud analyst said at the Midwinter Conference in Park City, Utah, last week.

But a former fraud analyst says the FBI’s calculation could be shy by even more than that. And others who work in the mortgage sector scam artists continue to find new ways to fleece lenders.

The FBI’s calculation is based on Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs, which it receives from lenders and others who think they may have been cheated in one way or another. But Arthur Prieston, chairman of the Prieston Group, a California firm which offers an integrated suite of fraud protection, loss mitigation and insurance services, puts fraud losses at $4.4 billion annually.

Prieston bases that figure on claims data for clients represented by his firm’s legal services affiliate, the American Mortgage Law Group, which chases down fraudsters. And he says the loss severity is at least 50 percent greater for lenders which are not insured and don’t go after perpetrators.

At the same time, a former fraud detection specialist who asked to remain anonymous because he no longer works in the field said the annual take as a result of mortgage fraud is more like $6 billion and growing.

He said “fraud for commission” in which originators will “do anything” to earn a fee is just as prevalent as fraud for profit.

“It’s pervasive throughout the entire industry,” the source told me in an exclusive interview. “It’s growing because the accountability is not there. Risk management (for fraud) is the Rodney Dangerfield of the mortgage business.”

The source said fraud for profit also is a growing category, but he said when originators commit fraud “and get away with it, they’ll do it again.”

Meanwhile, Ronald Frazier, president of LSI, a large automated title and appraisal company based in Santa Ana, Calif., told me he’s “seeing a level of fraud in the title industry that I’ve never seen before.”

From a claims perspective, Frazier added, “the last 120 days have been like a mushroom cloud.”

The LSI president, whose company is a division of Fidelity National Information Services, laid the blame for the increased level of chicanery, in part, on lenders who have “beaten us down” on costs. And as a result, title firms “don’t do all they should do.”

Frazier also said “shotgunning,” a scam in which a single borrower makes multiple applications to several lenders at one time, also is on the upswing, especially in the home equity sector. These crooks are able to get away with the scam, in part, because they close on the loans almost simultaneously, so they are hard to detect, he said. But he also said some title companies aren’t searching the records as diligently as the should because they can’t afford to.

Prieston said he expects financially strapped home builders to be the next to try to pull the wool over lenders’ eyes. He believes those builders who are sitting with unsold inventory will turn to straw buyers so they can obtain primary mortgages and use the money to pay off costly construction loans.

Once the builder “sells” the finished houses, Prieston believes, “they’ll walk, they bail,” leaving lenders who gave loans to the pretend buyers holding the bag.

He also said that occupancy fraud, in which buyers say they will live in the house but never do, is still the largest category of fraud his company sees. “The likelihood of default rises by 300 percent if the borrower claims he will reside in the property but doesn’t,” he said.

Insane Real Estate Market is Long Gone

by Henry Savage

In 2004 and 2005 I wrote a few articles about the insane Washington, D.C. real estate market. There were multiple buyers for every house on the market. Prices were skyrocketing and buyers were stripping themselves of every protection by eliminating such common contract contingencies such as a home inspection, the ability to obtain a mortgage and an appraisal. Such practices were unheard of prior to about 2002.

The focus of my articles wasn’t merely a description of the crazy conditions, but a prediction — even a warning — to anyone jumping on the real estate bandwagon hoping to make a quick buck: The red hot market isn’t sustainable. Those folks who were buying speculative real estate with no money down and a short term holding period are playing a risky game.

These articles generated a lot of reaction from readers, most who agreed with my prediction that the market was headed for possible hard landing.

During the same period — mid-2005 — I received a phone call from a woman from New York City. She says she’s putting together a book on real estate advice for Donald Trump. She asks me if I’d like to write something down and send it to her. If The Donald likes it, it will go in the book.

Even though I’m thinking that this must be some sort of practical joke, I agreed to send her an email anyway. My advice to Mr. Trump was simple: Recognize that real estate, while a good investment over time, may require patience and staying power. Folks expecting to double their money in a year are in for a rude awakening if their investment was ill-timed. If property values dip or the rental market slows, the investor must have the ability to hold the investment long enough to overcome dips in the marketplace.

So I write a few paragraphs and hit the send button. I then forget about it.

Low and behold, last week I received a package in the mail containing Trump’s new book, “The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received — 100 Top Experts Share Their Strategies,” along with a letter from the publisher thanking me for my contribution. I flip through the book and there it is on page 213. I also note that Blanche Evans, editor of Realty Times, is a contributor.

Well, it turns out my advice to the Realty Times readers and to Mr. Trump himself wasn’t too bad. I contacted my friend and true real estate expert, Bill Barnes of Barnes Real Estate Company in Alexandria, Virginia to get his take on today’s Washington real estate market. He summarized the current market like this:

  • The number of days on the market for a new listing is approaching 90 days, compared with less than a week a couple of years ago;
  • Home prices are indeed declining because houses are being priced at the same levels when the market was at its peak. Since there are far fewer buyers, sellers are coming off those peak prices because many sellers do not, for a variety of reasons, have the ability to hold onto their home indefinitely, waiting to get top price.
  • A “herd mentality” exists in the marketplace. When the market was hot, investors flocked to write a contract as soon as a property came on the market. Today, with the help of the media’s incessant negative reporting on the real estate market, the same herd is wary to write a contract, fearful that property values will fall. This creates fewer buyers as inventory grows.

The Washington area real estate market is bound to lose a bit more steam before it picks up again. But Washington has proved to be resilient, and someone who buys real estate has made a good investment if the intent of the purchase is a long term investment. But be well aware of the fact that I mentioned in a Realty Times column that was published on March 17, 2005: Cycles happen.