Friday, March 27, 2009

Did That Come Outta Your Yap???

Hi Everyone,
I hope you enjoy this week's feature blog that I posted on Agent Genius. It's about the outrageous comments we agents hear from buyers and sellers. Turnabout is fair play, so feel free to send me any ridiculous remarks you have heard agents say...and I'm sure there have been plenty. Some of these are real head scratchers:

Did That Really Come Outta Your Yap?
I heard a very odd story that involves Mrs. Butterworth (well, peripherally anyway). Agent and AG writer Matt Stigliano told me about the time he overhead a mother tell her child not to run off because strangers could “chop you up into little pieces and put you into pancakes.” And it was said at the Hollywood Christmas Parade! Will anyone really be surprised when that hapless child someday jumps Mrs. Butterworth and the Hungry Jack guy at an IHOP Yuletide party? I sense a smack down coming…
Let Em Eat Pancakes!
Matt’s anecdote caused my rather perverse brain to recall a few memorable lines I have heard in my own career. My colleagues were all very eager to share a few experiences their own, so consider this the first installment of the “Did that flotsam really come out of your mouth?” sweepstakes. The prize for best reader comments is a Hungry Stack from the Studio City Flapjack Emporium.
Questions That Deserve a Flapjack
1.) “I’d rather have a yard than that pool. Do you think the seller can fill it in for me and plant some grass?” Answer: Only if you are lying at the bottom of it, my friend.

2.) “Will they give us a break on the price if we give them some swag from our concerts?” Answer: Will you please get your hand off my ass?
3.) “I know I haven’t waived contingencies, but my dog died and I can’t bury him at my condo. Can I bury him there?” Agent: “What if the deal falls through?” Buyer response: “Well, I could go dig him up and move him.” Answer: Smack. And here’s another smack just because the last one felt so good.
4.) “Do you think my Laurel Canyon neighbors will mind if I practice drums at home?” Answer: “No, not as long as you don’t interrupt the filming of their porno movies.”
5.) “Can I back out of the deal even though we waived contingencies? I feel the presence of spirits in the bedroom.” Answer: Of course…and let’s add one more dead person to the crowd…because you’re next, you John Edward sycophant.
6.) “Did someone famous live here? Answer: Jimmy Stewart. “Oh, that preacher guy?” Answer: No, that Root Beer guy.
And For the Second Serving…
7.) “Isn’t this where Marilyn Monroe was discovered? Agent Answer: “No, but it’s where she was buried.” True story.

8.) “I want this house, but I only need three bedrooms. Can I get a credit for the fourth?” Answer: Of course…and I’ll have him move the house to the beach and throw in a Beemer while he’s being so generous.
9.) “Why do I have to list the disclosures in writing? Isn’t my word good enough?” (From a musician just out of rehab.) …Need I say more?
10.) “Will the buyer let me keep my furniture here for a month? It looks good, and I won’t have any place to move it until after the holidays.” Answer: Sure, but the pool won’t hold that much.
11.) “Can I take my rose bushes with me?” Why not…and take the whole damn Oak grove while you’re at it.
12.) “Does the buyer need the garage?” HUH – What does this even mean?????
One For the Road
And one for the road for the nonbelievers:
“Do the police patrol here a lot?” Answer: “Yes, all the time.” Buyer’s response: “Then I don’t want the place.” Hmmmm.
Ya know, I think we poor agents have all been traumatized as much as that poor little kid. Mrs. Butterworth, anyone?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gwen's Post on Agent Genius: The Caravan From Hell"

Hi Everyone, I just wanted to share my latest post on Agent Genius in case you missed it and need a good laugh for the day. Thanks for viewing!

The Caravan From Hell
Yes, we have all had those caravans that were not exactly successful. But there reaches a point when a gal just wants to burn her license. My friend from Nelson Shelton told me a tragic story (hilarious to my sick mind, of course), about a Caravan gone so wrong that Right was just a burg in another galaxy. The agent had advertised, prepared a luncheon, purchased flowers, lit candles, and even said a few Hail Marys before getting her listing ready for the first Brokers Open.
Smoking Will Kill Ya!
The agent decided that a fire in the fireplace would be the final touch in setting the ambience. She lit the fire and went back to her food prep. When she smelled smoke, she realized that she had forgotten that little fireplace device called a ‘flue.’ The instant she opened it, something out of the depths of Hell flew past her face…something too dense to be smoke. In a moment of disbelief that could rival only a Hitchcock film, she looked up to see three bats overhead, freaking out from the smoke. Apparently they had taken the fastest path out of the chimney - the open flue - rather than the upper path to freedom. Or maybe they were just blinded by the smoke. The ratlike creatures were absolutely manic. She reckoned that the screams that were erupting from her prolapsed jaw were not helping matters.
Is There a Continuing Ed Course For This?
Being the brainy agent that she was, she grabbed a broom, opened the wall of French doors, and managed to scoot two of the flying vermin out of the house. Then came the showdown. The remaining bat hovered against a skylight, eyeing her coiffure with a taste for vengeance. In the nick of time, the first agent on caravan arrived at the scene of the disaster. Being the macho sort, he sized up the sitch, told the listing agent to grab a towel and stiffle her screams, and then he mounted a chair. Carefully…oh so carefully, he grabbed the bat with the towel and ran for the door. By this time, he also was screaming like a girly-man. He threw the towel onto the patio, and waited for the bird to break free and head back to Lucifer’s den. The OK Corral had better results.
Some Visitors Just Can’t Take a Hint!
The bat had other plans. Its foot, or talon, or whatever those creepy things have attached to those vampire-like bodies, was stuck in the towel. It tried to launch itself, but the heavy towel kept the evil thing tethered. (Back off, PETA - no vermin was harmed in this rumble!) Now both agents were yelling as they helplessly watched the horror show. Soon a few more agents arrived (packing loaded business cards); and then the Police rushed in (armed with high-tech donuts, no doubt), having heard reports of screaming. Last to join the soiree was the seller, having been alerted at work by a neighbor who was sure a homicide had occured in their normally tranquil neighborhood.
Eight Heads Are Not Always Better Than One
The cop offered to shoot the bat. (Joking) The agents all vied to sell it a condo. (Half-joking) And the seller was pissed about the Egyptian cotton towel used for extrication purposes. (Not joking) Finally one brave cop, not content to wait for Animal Control because his coffee was cooling in the squad car, approached the weary bat. Reluctant to use his pepper spray on such a breeezy day, the Man of Law shook the towel a few times as everyone scattered, screamed, and looked for a nearby bush where they could empty the contents of their stomachs. But no could drag himself away from the adrenalin rush. More agents arrived, too curious to keep driving after seeing the squad car. (Hey - cops are prospects, too!) Finally the bat, having had about all he could take of the noise and hysteria, broke free and escaped. Alas, no one was quick enough to get his email address.
Moral of the Story
(Yes, Virginia, We Agents Still Have Morals.)Check fireplaces before burning anything, especially the Living Evil. Carry your own towels - you never know when you may need to soak up something nasty. If you ever have bats in a fireplace - or anywhere - be sure to get the bat pre-qualified for a loan. In this economy, everything breathing is worth your time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gwen's First New Column, As Seen on Agent

Come Out of the Closet!
Okay, let’s all be honest – we want everyone out there to see our business as professional and dignified, but I say, “TIME TO COME OUT OF THE CLOSET!” I have heard so many shocking reports of Real Estate high jinks that I decided to share them… and maybe add a moral or two to the mix just for grins. Yes, I’m talking naked women in closets, bats in the chimney, crime scene shockers, and a Mini Cooper in the swimming pool.
I live in L.A., and yes, we are the Mother Lode of Weird, but my first report actually comes from a Realtor friend of mine from back East (dubbed Slow Take) . When I tell you the facts of his memorable event, you’ll know why this hapless soul chooses to remain anonymous.
It seems Slow Take was showing his recently separated, lovely prospective buyer a home on the Jersey Shore. The sun was grinning, there was a lovely breeze dancing in from the ocean, and Slow Take was mentally computing what his commission check was going to look like. (Cue the horn section.) As he and his client looked around the lovely beach house, excitement mounted. Unfortunately, there was more excitement than just the vibration of Slow Take’s wallet.
Moral Number One:
When he heard the back door slam, he and his client paused, all senses on alert. After a few minutes and a cursory look out the back door, Slow Take decided the door had been left unlocked and had simply been nudged by the capricious ocean breeze. Moral Number One: Never Assume Anything – Especially in a Vacant Beach House. As they went on their merry way, the imaginary sound of cash from the ATM caused Slow Take to salivate and his step to quicken.
Moral Number Two:
By the time they reached the bedroom, the buyer was ready to write a check and Slow Take was mentally purchasing his first Mercedes. Then he opened the closet. Moral Number Two: Never Open the Closet After You’ve Heard a Strange Noise. (Doesn’t anyone watch those babysitter horror films besides me?) Yes, there was a half dressed woman in there, frozen in place as though embalmed – nice, huh? But that’s not even the good part of my friend’s story!
After the mutual screaming subsided and garments were gathered, Slow Take re-dressed himself in all his professional dignity and announced that he would have to call the cops because there was obviously some breaking and entering that had taken place. At that point, naked girl picked up her dignity along with her remaining clothing and said with the greatest of self assurance that there would be none of that. She had entered legally – with an agent from another office - with whom she had been enjoying some afternoon delight when they were rudely interrupted. Apparently the agent/lover had high tailed it out the back, leaving her there in all her nonplussed glory.
Moral Number Three:
Slow Take, not to be outdone on the self-assurance scale, demanded to know the agent’s name. Her lover was a new agent Slow Take hardly knew…but someone else in the room apparently did. His buyer gasped and ran like a rabbit on crack back to the car. You guessed it – it turns out that the fleeing agent was her philandering spouse. Slow Take, not too quick on the Up Take, thought his client had just had her sensibilities offended. It took a V8 and a smack to his head before he caught on. Moral Number Three: Don’t Ask Too Many Questions Unless You’re Jack Bauer.
Moral Number Four:
Needless to say, his client’s marriage broke up, but believe it or not, my friend still got the sale! His client had enough money of her own to buy a beach house, but she chose to purchase a different one with no surprises (like a blue dress with a spot) in the closet. My last moral is really for my own satisfaction: Moral Number Four: Never Have a Tryst with a Spineless Agent.
Coming Out of the Closet
Well I just retraced my steps, and it seems we have come full circle back to closets. (We’re coming out, remember?) So next week I’ll tell you about a story from my own office that involves a crime scene during caravan. And who says we don’t have fun? Until next week, remember my motto: SANITY’S NOT ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Oops! Who Clobbered the Mom-n-Pop Investor?

As contractors, we real estate agents have to create ways to compensate for a lack of a benefit package. Perhaps you, too, are in the same situation. As you all know, the goal of the new Bailout Plan is to reduce homeowners' monthly payments to affordable levels. But the plan does NOT apply to real estate investors. This initiative is available to help homeowners retain and refinance their primary residence. However, those with multiple properties, even small investments that barely break even, need not apply.

There are many people who struggled to save and invested back into our economy as a means of obtaining financial security. Doesn't it make sense that we try to keep those people afloat as well - especially if they pay on time, have documented income and high FICO scores? (In other words, they earned the same considerations.) Quite honestly, it scares me to think how many mom-n-pop investors - and we're not talking Eli Broad here folks - are going to walk away from property they cannot refinance, especially when the lower rents are not covering the adjusting mortgages. How will this help any of us? If the government is trying to stop the stream of foreclosures, has anyone considered finding a way to help small investors hold on as well? Who is more likely to walk away from a property that cannot be re-financed to a reasonable rate - the person trying to re-fi a primary residence, or the small time businessman who knows that if he lets his rental properties go, he can still keep his residence?

There seems to be an image of an "investor" as a bigwig in a shark skin suit sucking on a cigar behind the steering wheel of a Bentley. But let's get real here. There are many hard-working folks who used property investment in place of available 401ks. Okay, so you may be thinking, "Why didn't they use IRAs or Sep IRAs? Good question. Well, one struggling "investor" (who drives a Pontiac) told me he used some equity from his residence to buy a few cheap properties a few years ago because his wife was sick. He believed in the economy and trusted that he could get some equity built up. Then, if his wife needed more treatment, he could sell if necessary and not be faced with the penalties of IRA's. Of course, this is just one story, but think of how many people out there have an extra property they are ready to let go. Is anyone else wondering how the Big Bailout is going to address THIS issue? As more REOs threaten to take us further down that slippery slope, why are we ignoring the small investors who need some assistance. After all - WE NEED THEM.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What a response to the last post!

We have had great response to this question. Please see my blog post on Active Rain for a rousing discussion on the Bailout Plan - with all it's warts!

Will the Big Bailout Solve the Problem???

I have been receiving many calls and emails asking if the bailout is "going to make a difference." Thus, I wanted to find out how some of you feel about the government's "BIG PLAN." (Let's hope this does not have the setbacks and delays of Boston's BIG DIG!). I would love your feedback, and your questions. I think the debate over the size, scope and expected effects is healthy, and maybe together we can wade through the labyrinthine turns of a plan that may - or may not - save us all before we are all forced to sell our worldly possessions on Ebay and move in together in the world's largest frat house.
What do you think - should investors be made to recognize (and be responsible for) their losses on bad mortgages, or will this continue the economic freefall we have been experiencing? Do you believe the banks will really allow people with good credit and an excellent payment history to receive the same re-financing opportunites as those who have defaulted on their loans have gotten? And what do you think the conforming loan limits should be - especially in high-priced areas such as L.A., San Francisco and New York? Is congress hearing our calls?