Do you own a John Deere Lawn tractor?

September 15, 2011

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National Trend Toward Smaller Homes

September 8, 2011
  • Tiny Houses: Would You Live in Less Than 140 Square Feet?

    When Jay Shafer first started building the little houses that would evolve into his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, he didn’t know that he would be at the forefront of a national trend toward small homes. He simply wanted to have less impact on the environment, and to “do away with unwanted space.” Read

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Avoid a Short Sale, Stay In Your Home – New FHA Refi Starts September 7, 2010

August 21, 2010


A recent article by The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors outlined a new program being rolled out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Offered through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), This will allow some homeowners to refi their homes even though they may owe more than the market value. The program will allow for lenders to to write off at least 10 percent of the unpaid principal balance of the first mortgage.

Click on the link below to read the article, courtesy of the Pennsylvania Association or Realtors.

FHA launches short refi for underwater homeowners.

Please leave any comments or questions.

Cal Williams

Mechanicsburg Realtor

Straub and Associates Real EState Group

3 Real Estate Myths Debunked

June 13, 2010


MYTH #1 If I use a Realtor to help me find a home, I will have to pay more.
FALSE. As a buyer, a Realtor will save you time and money. Hiring a Realtor when you begin the process of searching for your new home is the best way to be sure you will get the most accurate information on the current market. Getting the most accurate information will help you avoid over paying for a home as well as saving you countless hours contemplating homes that are not even on the market anymore. Many websites are not up to date with the current inventory of homes, but your Realtor is!.
( for more information see my blog post.. With the Internet, why do I need a Realtor? )
And no where else can you get professional representation and not pay for it..That is right, the sellers of the property pay the commission to YOUR buyers agent.
I repeat, you get the benefit of a trained Real Estate Professional ,a Realtor, to help you search for homes, line up financing, tour properties, study market conditions, perform market research and THE SELLER PAYS FOR IT.!!

MYTH #2 If I list my house with a Realtor, I will not make as much as if I do it myself.
VERY FALSE. Many people want to sell their homes on their own and “save money”.  If saving money is your goal, cut back on your expenses and find a cheap hobby like bird watching. IF you want to make money, hire a Realtor to analyze, list and market your home.
Some people may have the time, money and knowledge ( and patience ) to list and sell their own home. But most do not. The typical scenario goes like this:
A homeowner wants to save the 6-7% commission he would pay a Realtor and do it himself.  Most homeowners are not objective about the real value of their home and naturally think its worth more than it really is. The market dictates the price point for the home, unfortunately, not the amount of  blood, sweat and tears the homeowner has into it. So they over price the home and it sits on the market as other properly priced homes sell around it. Then after months of interrupted dinners with people wanting to see the home, and tons of calls and questions about the home they get someone who says : I LOVE IT, I WANT IT ! Unfortunately, this person has no money and no credit…they are not pre -approved and could not buy the home at any price. All this is found out about 3 weeks after the homeowner stops running ads and has stopped trying to sell his house thinking it was sold….Back to square one and he has 5 months wasted..I could go on…HIRE A Realtor at the beginning, get it priced right, get the proper information,get it marketed right,  show the home only to qualified buyers and get it sold.

MYTH #3 Bank Foreclosures are the best way to get a property below market value.
FALSE AGAIN Many people assume that because its a bank foreclosure, it’s gotta be a steal. Not true. Bank foreclosures are sometimes very hard to get to settlement. Dealing with the bank and getting clear title can take more time than some buyers can afford. Additionally, just because the property was foreclosed on and is now up for sale, does not mean that is priced under market value. It could just as easily be priced over market value because the bank is owed way more than its worth. The person who determined the price may know nothing about the local market.
The best way to get the most accurate real estate information is to talk to a professional Realtor…..Most Realtors will be happy to answer your questions without any obligation.
Cal Williams
Accredited Buyer Representative

How to Buy a Home in 5 Easy Steps

March 19, 2010

5 Simple Steps to Buying a Home – It’s not rocket science , but you could end up taking  one giant leap  if you don’t read this blog!  ..especially first time homebuyers.

Step 1:  Find a Realtor to represent you. So many consumers spend hours and hours searching the internet for properties and driving around neighborhoods wasting time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again..’A good Realtor is worth his weight in gold’. Spend your time searching the internet for a Realtor, find one and call him for a consultation. You can still search for homes yourself, but your Realtor can save you countless hours searching the wrong sites and looking at properties that are already sold. 

Your Realtor will have access to an MLS service ( Multiple Listing Service) in the area you are interested in. Most websites on the internet that allow users to search for homes have outdated properties. Homes are sold and it takes time for the information to be distributed to the internet sites. In contrast, the MLS has the information immediately. The catch is only Realtors have access to the MLS.

So find a Realtor, call him or her, meet with him or her, and hire him or her. The beauty of the whole thing is your Realtor, who works for you, is only compensated when he finds you the home you want….And the compensation comes from the Sellers of the house you buy!!!  Not the Buyer!.

For information on how to find a good Realtor and what a good Realtor should do for you, see my blog post : Why Do I need A Realtor® or Real Estate Agent at all?

Step 2: Find your DREAM HOME. After you hired your agent, search the market. Your agent will provide you with time-saving tips, links to search for homes and information that will help you save time and money. By listening to your needs, a good Real Estate agent will be able to set up filters and perform accurate property searches for you. Compile a list of your 5 top homes and have your agent set up tours of your 5 favorites. When you find the home that fits your needs its time to really put your agent to work!

STEP 3: Make an offer. This is where a good agent will earn his commission and then some. Putting together an offer involves a lot of paperwork along with a fair amount of skill. Many factors need to be considered and disclosures need to be  made by both parties. Your agent will help you navigate these waters. Put your offer together with the help of your agent, taking into consideration the temperature of the current market. Once your get your property under contract….Step 4 , here we come!

Step 4: Secure Financing. Actually, if your agent knows what he is doing, you will already be pre-qualified at this point. Now its time to lock in a rate, and get your loan approved. Again, this is not difficult but you should have the advice of a Realtor. You will need some advice by someone who knows how to look at a lenders GFE(Good Faith Estimate). The GFE is where all your fees and expenses to get you in that home should be disclosed. There are rules about what a lender can and cannot change once he gives you a GFE. Your agent can help you decipher the GFE and make sure you are getting a good deal on financing.

 Step 5: Settlement on your new home.  After you have secured financing and crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s, its time to go to settlement. At settlement you will again cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s. Signing all the paperwork at a real estate settlement can be very stressful and intimidating… if you don’t have someone on your side to answer questions……..YOUR REALTOR!. You should understand everything you sign at settlement, and the settlement attorney is not representing you, so you may or may not get detailed explanations. 90% of the time settlements go smoothly, if not its in your best interest to have your Realtor there.

So that’s it!, 5 simple steps. Of course there are many small items that need addressed throughout the entire process, and thats why you want to find a good Realtor, and hire him to be your buyer representative.

-Cal Williams 


Home Improvements : Best Bang for your Buck is……….?

February 26, 2010

Welcome to 2010. The Vancouver Olympics are in full swing, the economy has shown signs of life and the average American still can’t get a loan to buy a home!

The factors contributing to our current economic  ‘situation’  have produced a climate where….LENDERS WONT LEND MONEY!

As we all know, the Real Estate Market is a huge part of our national economy. Until the credit crunch loosens and banks begin to lend money, the Real Estate Market will remain tight and it will remain a BUYERS MARKET. But,it’s a buyers market only in the sense that SELLERS are not getting the prices they were getting a few years ago and there are not enough qualified BUYERS to put upward pressure on home prices.

What can SELLER’S do to combat these evil forces? What can home sellers do to get the 20% appreciation they are entitled to? 

Well there are some things homeowners can do  to increase the value of their home and help them to get a fair price on their home when it is time to sell. Firstly, the days of 20% appreciation are gone, so we might as well get used to that now.  Despite the gloom and doom seen all over the news, there still are many qualified buyers searching for a home. Not all buyers are looking for distressed and bank owned properties.

With a few simple home improvements, sellers can as least know they are putting their best foot forward when getting their home on the market. ( I’ll just mention here that every homeowner owes it to themselves to consult with a Realtor before putting their property on the market…See my other blogs….and its financially prudent.)

What improvements bring the most value for resale? Typically, bathrooms and kitchens are the most secure in getting your investment back out when you sell. These items are also the most prominent for new homebuyers and can increase your sale price as well as set you apart from other homes. Finished basements are also popular but do not raise the market value of the home much.

But what about exterior improvements?

A December report released by The National Realtors Association shines the light on this very subject.

The article state “the smartest home improvement investments may also be some of the least expensive. Results from the 2009 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report show that small-scale exterior projects are the most profitable at resale, according to estimates by Realtors® who completed a recent survey.”

Exterior Remodeling Proves Best Bang for Your Buck, Realtors® Report

In todays Real Estate market, Sellers need to keep on top of the trends and what buyers are looking for. The competition can be fierce, many sellers trying to attract fewer buyers….supply and demand..ecomonics 101..thanks Professor Bellinger…Dickinson College.

– Cal Williams

SHORT SALES 101-The Basics

January 18, 2010


The Basics: Short Sales

Due to current economic conditions, the number of short sale properties on the market is rising. The increasing number of short sales on the market presents challenges for REALTORS®. Below you’ll find more information on: short sales and their challenges, the government’s efforts to address these challenges, and tools to help you navigate the short sale process. 

Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA)

On November 30, 2009, the Treasury Department released guidelines and forms for its new Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA), part of the  Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

What is a short sale?A short sale is a transaction in which the lender, or lenders, agree to accept less than the mortgage amount owed by the current homeowner. In some cases, the difference is forgiven by the lender, and in others the homeowner must make arrangements with the lender to settle the remainder of the debt.

Why is the number of short sales rising?

Due to the recent economic crisis, including rising unemployment, and drops in home prices in communities across the nation, the number of short sales is increasing. Since a short sale generally costs the lender less than a foreclosure, it can be a viable way for a lender to minimize its losses.

A short sale can also be the best option for a homeowners who are “upside down” on mortgages because a short sale may not hurt their credit history as much as a foreclosure. As a result, homeowners may qualify for another mortgage sooner once they get back on their feet financially.

What challenges have short sales presented for REALTORS®?

The rapid increase in the number of short sales, and the short sales process itself present a number of challenges for REALTORS®. Major challenges include:

  1. Limited experience
    Many REALTORS® are new to the short sales process; a difficulty which is compounded by many lenders’ lack of sufficient and experienced staff to process short sales. Even if the REALTORS® are experienced, most servicers are under-staffed and still not adequately trained, making negotiating a short sale particularly difficult.
  2. Absence of a uniform process and application
    Currently, both short-sales documents and processes are lender-specific, making it very difficult and time-consuming for REALTORS® to become knowledgeable and efficient in facilitating these transactions. 
  3. Multiple lenders
    When more than one lender is involved, the negotiations are much more difficult. Second lien holders often hold up the transaction to exert the largest possible payment, in exchange for releasing their lien, even though in foreclosure they will get nothing.

As a result of these challenges our members have reported difficulties with: unresponsive lenders; lost documents that require multiple submissions, inaccurate or unrealistic home value assessments, and long processing delays, which cause buyers to walk away.

What is being done to address or eliminate these challenges?

On May 14, 2009, the Obama Administration announced its upcoming Foreclosure Alternatives Program. Among other things, the new program:

  • Establishes financial incentives for servicers, sellers, and second lien holders to encourage the completion of short-sale transactions.
  • Requires that a timeline, of no fewer than 90 days, be set to allow a homeowner to sell a home, without threat of foreclosure action.
  • Requires the short sale agreement to specify reasonable and customary real estate commissions and costs to be deducted from the sales prices. (The servicer must agree not to negotiate a lower commission after receiving an offer.)
  • Will provide standardized documents, including short-sale agreements and offer acceptance letters.

More Information on Short Sales 

Foreclosure Alternative Program Fact Sheet

This article was reprinted from the NAR ( national Association of Realtors) Website .

For More information please visit my website at

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