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Feb. 21, 2018

Appraisals – The Real Estate Industry’s ‘Four-Letter’ word – And How It Can Effect The Seller

Success!  Your house is under contract!  You’ve negotiated a price, a closing date, the Buyer’s loan is pre-approved, and you’ve hired packers.  Not so fast!  Now your home has to pass the lender’s property condition test – meaning it has to appraise.

An appraisal is an independent, professional opinion of value.  Let’s repeat that.  VALUE is the appraiser’s OPINION of what the property is worth.  It is based on sales data, CURRENT market conditions, location, neighborhood, and other factors.  Your home value today, probably won’t be the same next year. 

It has NOTHING to do with what a buyer is willing to pay, or what a seller is willing to accept for the sale of their property!

There are many factors involved throughout the appraisal process – ONE is that appraisers are only as good as the data that is available to them.  The seller should provide a list of all the property improvements completed, with receipts, to their agent who will add comparable sales information, and provide it to the appraiser who will verify it during the process.

There is much hate toward the appraiser from all involved when that opinion doesn’t meet contract price.

If the appraisal is lower than the contract price the lender usually won’t approve the buyer’s loan.  The seller will have to lower the price or the buyer will have to come up with more cash, or the ‘Deal Will Fall Through’.  Your agent can help you dispute it – but it’s not always successful.

Remember, if you want to avoid the pain of a low appraisal – hire an agent to help you price the property RIGHT in the first place!

Gina M. Sohmer, is a veteran, a 2nd-Generation REALTOR®, a Graduate of the REALTOR® Institute, a Seller’s Representative Specialist, and a member of the Phyllis Browning Company.  You can reach her at

Feb. 21, 2018

2018 Housing Market – And How It Can Effect You!

2017 was a strong year for real estate:  Overall prices increased by 4.1%.  Days on the market decreased by 1.4%, overall sales contracts increased by 3.1% and closed sales increased 2.5%.

And this is where I pull out my Magic 8-ball!  I believe that real estate investment is still a good bet for 2018. 

Prices will rise, but at a slower growth rate.  So, unless you get over-leveraged, long term real estate investment is still safe.  This should increase supply, though I expect total supply will still be short of demand.

Millennials need homes for their families!  Kids change everything!  More Millennial buyers means that entry-level housing prices will rise short-term.  Rising prices should attract development – development increases supply – and stabilizes prices.

Rentals and Flips are still an excellent return on investment!  And, it’s been more than seven years since the recession – meaning that buyers who filed bankruptcy years ago are able to enter the buying market again. 

Let’s face facts.  The new tax bill is kinder to Texas than it is to California.  With the overall economy improving, national outlooks include:  housing starts up 3%, new home sales up 7%, existing home sales up 2.5%.  The American Dream of owning your own home won’t be dampened because the standard deduction doubling reduces tax incentives for low and middle income buyers.  Tax incentives are never the MAIN reason for someone to buy a home!

If interest rates rise slightly, increasing supply and slowing price appreciation, first-time buyers, who have more money in their pockets, will have the opportunity to become a homeowner.

Gina M. Sohmer, is a veteran, a 2nd-Generation REALTOR®, a Graduate of the REALTOR® Institute, a Seller’s Representative Specialist, and a member of the Phyllis Browning Company.  She can be reached at

Feb. 21, 2018

My House is For Sale, Should I Decorate For Christmas?

A For Sale Sign shouldn’t cancel Christmas!  When a home is occupied and Buyers view the home, they notice when there are no Christmas decorations.  Since they expect it, you absolutely should decorate for Christmas. 

This is of course if you have already done all of the things that we have been discussing over the last year and your home is looking beautiful and ready for a great sale.  In this case, Christmas decorations will only add to the warmth and family atmosphere that your home is currently displaying.

Now, I am NOT talking about a “National Lampoon’s Family Christmas”!  Don’t overdo it!  Think cozy, warm, and family.  Tasteful and simple.

Decorations should NEVER block pathways!  If your decorations overwhelm your home you are into Griswold Land.

Decorations should not be distracting.  Remember, buyers can’t see past distractions!  SIZE DOES MATTER – if you normally buy a 10 foot tree and cram it into the corner of the living room, consider 6-ft or a table top version.  Oversize gifts that don’t fit under the tree should be in a closet. 

Color is another thing to consider.  Don’t clash with your current color palette!  Red garland won’t go with your baby blue living room!  Consider white decorations instead.

Decorations shouldn’t overwhelm the important selling features of the home, i.e., grand fireplaces, custom stair railing, or beautiful stain-glass windows!  Instead they should accentuate them– a single mistletoe dangling from an arched entryway.

It’s your Agent’s job to tell you if your decorations are tasteful or tacky!  It’s your job to listen!

Gina M. Sohmer, is a veteran, a 2nd-Generation REALTOR®, a Graduate of the REALTOR® Institute, a Seller’s Representative Specialist, and a member of the Phyllis Browning Company.  She can be reached at

Nov. 6, 2017

Why You Might Want To Consider A Local Mortgage Lender

This month I sat down with Michael Litwin, Sr. Loan Officer, at Guild Mortgage to discuss Local versus Online lenders.

Why should I recommend a local lender to my clients vice an online lender?

Litwin:  “It really depends on the loan.  For instance, Quicken is good, if the loan is perfect or easy.  Anything outside of that, there are going to be issues and it is all about expertise.  Texas is different for lending laws than the rest of the country, so an expert in Texas lending is exactly what is needed for a successful home purchase.  They know the local market, have local lending knowledge, know local appraisers, and they have a local team.

And, think about it this way.  70% of communication is nonverbal, so if you are only speaking online you are missing most of the conversation.  Passion and local experience are needed to originate, process, close, fund and service a Texas home loan.”

What is servicing?

Litwin:  “Taking care of the loan from inception to pay off.  Servicing lenders DON’T sell your loan.  This provides the client with long-term stability, and a central, local point of contact that they can call years later.  Many lenders sell their loans in the market.  That means that the client’s loan can be sold several times and each time it’s sold, they end up with a new loan company.  It can be confusing!”

How do you feel about the future of the local home market?

Litwin:  “Rates are likely to creep up, but not drastically.  Greater San Antonio is still affordable, and is bringing in industry, jobs, and young educated people.  We’ve been fortunate not to have experienced peaks and valleys in our economy.  The area is still a great place to raise a family and has been in a steady upswing for a long time.  I don’t believe that it is going to change anytime soon.”

Gina M. Sohmer, is a veteran, a second-generation REALTOR®, a Graduate of the REALTOR® Institute and a member of the Phyllis Browning Company.  She can be reached at

Oct. 6, 2017

The Tricks and Treats of Selling Your Home During the Fall/Winter Seasons

Need to sell but you missed the height of the selling season?  Think again!  Real estate is being sold 365 days a year!  Fall and winter can be great times to sell, but, there is a ‘trick’ to it!

First, determine the type of market your area is experiencing and price your home RIGHT!  There may be less sales competition – but that doesn’t mean that you can overprice your home and sell it! 

You know that there are seasonal maintenance items that have to be done throughout the year.  Just because you are putting the home on the market, doesn’t mean that you can skip those.  Have your HVAC system and any wood burning fireplaces inspected and cleaned.  Having this done prior to selling your home is helpful because you know they are working properly and can provide the receipts to prove it to that interested Fall Buyer!

Decorate and embrace the season – but don’t go overboard!  DON’T forget to clean your yard (rake, weed and trim) and clean your gutters!  Curb appeal counts even more in the fall and winter.  Also, don’t forget to LIGHT IT UP!  For fall/winter showings turn on all the lights in your home – including any landscape lighting.  There are fewer daylight hours making it likely that showings could occur at dusk.  Lights help make your home appear larger and more inviting.

TRICKY, doesn’t mean impossible - and in many ways selling in the fall/winter can be a ‘TREAT’!  Call a Realtor® to help you make that fall/winter home sale happen now.

Gina M. Sohmer, is a veteran, a second-generation REALTOR®, a Graduate of the REALTOR® Institute and a member of the Phyllis Browning Company.  She can be reached at