“After All These Years” by retired relocation appraiser Tom Fryer SCRP, SRA of Midland, MI

After All These Years

After 33 years of relocation appraising, I have learned important lessons and a set of personal rules has evolved.  Certain ERC Guidelines have been laid down and must be adhered to; however, I have also established and pursued my own personal demands for overseeing each segment of the relocation appraisal process.  For me, failure to review or to ignore these guidelines and personal standards for each assignment can lead to an unfavorable outcome.  Now retired and still being of sound mind, let me share with you these important lessons and set of personal rules. Read More »

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Some US Cities Wage War on Rental Properties…Possible Future Trend?

In a recent post by The Fiscal Times, Steve Yoder sheds light on what could be an alarming movement for those of us in the business of locating rental homes—US cities and municipalities are beginning to limit or perhaps institute bans on rental properties within their limits.  While there is no data to suggest a widespread adoption of such policies, the post makes mention of laws passed across the nation in both Madison, Mississippi and in West St. Paul, Minneapolis.

Although a trend does not yet exist, it is suggested that this type of legislation is favored by lawmakers in areas already depressed by foreclosure.  These cities argue that neighborhoods mainly occupied by renters will further deplete home values due to lack of home upkeep and community involvement.  Those opposing the laws, including homeowners unable to sell and individuals at risk of losing a home, offer the rebuttal that preventing renters from leasing will likely perpetuate the problem by increasing the number of unoccupied homes.

Should restrictions on an already diminishing supply of rentals become common nationwide, Destination Service providers may be facing extreme challenges in locating viable housing options for transferees.


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AG Warns Against Craigslist Scams

Caveat Emptor

Another spate of unsuspecting victims of Craiglist scams has prompted the New York state Attorney General to issue a warning to consumers to safeguard themselves against these corrupt practices. The Real Deal has the story.

In addition to blatant fraud, it is an all too common practice to use Craigslist, and other websites, for bait and switch ads offering a “too good to be true” property, that always seems to have been rented yesterday, in order to lure new customers. When selecting a New York real estate broker confirm they are a member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and ensure they give full written agency disclosure explaining whom they represent in the transaction, tenant or landlord, and all fees associated with their services. Representing oneself in this market is not for the unititiated.

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Foreclosure Aid being offered to Investors

The recent decision to extend mortgage assistance to investors is certainly causing controversy.  Supporters of the decision see the need to avoid foreclosed, vacant properties regardless of their ownership since those empty homes drive down property values in the neighborhood.  The recent Bloomberg article sites a 2009 report by the Center for Responsible Lending, which said “foreclosures will affect 91.5 million nearby homes through 2012″.  Detractors of this plan place much of the blame for the housing bubble on these investors and do not want to see taxpayer dollars going to aid these speculators that made bad investments.

The expansion of this program to investors is due in part to the fact that the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has seen less than 1 million borrowers modify loans through the program.  The initial goal of HAMP was to help 3 to 4 million homeowners.  For either side of the argument, the hope is that the HAMP program will meet its objective of keeping homes out of foreclosure and that it will help strengthen the overall economy.


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Speeding Up the Short Sale Process

In a recent post from dsnews.com, Ester Cho writes about a bill that has been introduced in the Senate to speed up the short sale process.  By speeding up the short sale process, the Prompt Notification of Short Sale Act looks to avoid losing homes to foreclosure as a result of the long lender response times as legitimate buyers ultimately walk away due to the lack of communication from the lender.  The act would require a written response from the lender no later than 75 days after receipt of the written request by the buyer.

The requirement of a timely response from the lender will give potential buyers more confidence to look into short sale properties, which in turn should help to increase the potential buyer pool for these underwater homeowners.  As a short sale is less of an impact to house values than foreclosure, this bill would help the real estate market as it slowly looks to right itself.


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The Need for Speed…Determinants of Appraisal Turn Time

A relocation appraisal is a critical part of the home sale assistance process.  While anticipated sales price is often the most closely scrutinized part of the process, appraiser turn time is considered equally as important by some.  There are many variables that will have an effect on overall turn time of the appraisal report.  Understanding these variables from the start of the process will lead to less transferee anxiety and higher levels of satisfaction.

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Metro Detroit Housing Sales Jump 7%

A recent article in The Detroit News indicates that in January there were further signs of growing stability in the Metro Detroit housing market.  The standing inventory of homes is down 21% from last January with non-foreclosure sales growth of 7%. Sales jumped 7% last month in the four-county region with all-cash purchases accounting for half of all sales.

Contributor: Cindy Coin


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In a recent article from DSNews.com by Krista Franks she quotes economists from Capital Economics and the National Association of Realtors stating that the real estate market has started its recovery.  They point towards “record low mortgage interest rates, job growth and bargain home prices” as drivers towards improving consumer confidence.

While 2011 did show a slight increase (1.7%) in existing-home sales over the previous year, the article did provide evidence that the recovery won’t be quick or dramatic.  Distressed sales still represented more than 30 percent of sales and foreclosed home sales sold at a 22 percent discount from market rate in December.  Capital Economics chief economist Paul Dales summarized this mixed bag of information when we said, “Housing still won’t contribute much to GDP growth over the next few years, but at least it will no longer subtract from it.”

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Early Planning Makes College Admissions Process Easier

As spring break approaches, it is the ideal time for high school students – no matter what grade they are in – to visit college campuses.  Spring break college visits are helpful and well-timed because:

  1. The student will not miss school days
  2. College application deadlines are not imminent, thus allowing plenty of time to reflect on the visits
  3. College classes are usually in session and welcome student and parent visits

Most college websites have tour times and information sessions listed.  If not, a quick call or email to the Admissions Office can provide this information.  It is also beneficial to attend the sessions and speak with an Admissions Counselor about specific topics of interest, such as financial aid or sports.

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The Reluctant Landlord

In his article in the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Paul Owers writes about a subject quite familiar to those working in Destination Services: the reluctant landlord.  Due to the real estate crisis, many would-be home sellers across the United States owe much more than their property is currently worth and thus are unable to list their homes for sale.  For many, this is a first-time experience – and not one that they find particularly enjoyable.  Although the same real estate crisis has created a “red hot rental market”, finding a reliable, long-term tenant is still a challenge.  Maintenance costs, tenants with pets and rent payments that do not cover the mortgage are additional headaches reported by these novice landlords.

For the international employee moving to the U.S., the inexperienced landlord creates a whole host of challenges. For example, first-time landlords are often reluctant to work with expats that have no US credit or rental history. Also, most have never heard of a diplomatic clause.  And finally, inexperienced landlords do not understand why a Relocation Management Company is asking for their social security number on a W9 form and their bank account information in order to pay rent on behalf of the transferee. In many markets, the international transferee is competing with a long line of local rental applicants with acceptable US credit history and a ready check book. In such a fragile real estate market, it is important these international transferring employees use the best available resources to assist in finding a new home.

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