#HOWTO Find A Home On Twitter

Looking for a new home? Have you looked on Twitter?

Twitter is widely accessible, free, and powerful. Most importantly, the site provides valuable content and access to the internet in an incredibly creative way.

If you do not have an account, visit Twitter to create one. All you need is an e-mail address. I define Twitter as a stream of information and conversations.

A hashtag is simply a way to communicate with people about the same topic. #Election2012 was widely used these last few months and more than 32 million messages were “tweeted” on election day itself.

The #HOWTO hashtag is one of the most widely used hashtags, hence the subject of this post.

Here is a snapshot of our twitter profile from the date of this post in early November, 2012.

We launched the website in September and we have been slowing “mining” the twit-o-sphere to find and learn from the most influential people in the real estate business, both locally, and nationally.

We recently discovered an absolutely incredible resource that we want to share with you. Perhaps we could write a whole separate post on this one discovery, but instead we’ll share it now! Followerwonk allows its users to search twitter profiles. Simple concept. Incredible result.If you go to the “search profile” option on the site and click “more options” you can search profiles for location, keywords, # of tweets, # of followers, etc. If you want to find real estate agents in Boston, MA with more than 500 followers and more than 100 tweets, you can do it…for free.

In the same way that you can use google search as discussed in a prior article, we recommend that you use twitter, followerwonk, and these other twitter resources to learn about communities and analyze market trends.  Or just read about gardening…its your account…do whatever you want! I’m not in charge of it.

Most articles about twitter share strategies to accumulate more followers. What do you care about followers? you are searching for #realestate!!!

Another important note: twitter is not facebook. If you show up at the twitter party expecting to see all of your high school friends, you won’t. But you will find a collection of intelligent and talented individuals. You may also find a link to an open house you didn’t see on the MLS. Or you may see a post about a price-drop on that property you’ve been sitting on for months.

Follow local brokerage companies. Follow local real estate agents. Follow mortgage professionals. Follow Real Estate Attorneys. See who they follow. Watch what they share and how often. Check out Bottlenose to see who influences them.

Look at the profiles and see exactly how much information the person or company shares on twitter. Are the posts consistent? are the posts interesting? or are they simply self-serving and boring. Do the “tweets” add value to your real estate search? If the answer is “NO” then keep searching. I promise you there are thousands of twitter accounts that will add value to your search.

Here is the worst use of twitter I have seen, and it belongs to a highly recognized company in the industry.

In fairness, I’m not sure if this is just an old account they don’t use anymore. But either way, its out there and came up on a followerwonk search. Most mortgage professionals and real estate agents on twitter are far more creative.

The topic of our next article is about how to use twitter lists to find a home. Stay tuned for that…and thank you for reading this one.

Jack O’Donohue is a Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP

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REO Buyer Beware Re: Smoke and CO Detectors

If Massachusetts, it is the sellers responsibility to outfit the home with approved smoke detectors & carbon monoxide detectors. It is further the sellers obligation to obtain a compliance certificate from the local fire department prior to closing.

However, when working with Buyers of bank owned(REO) and foreclosed property, I frequently encounter property listings that disclose it is the Buyer’s responsibility to obtain the smoke & CO compliance certificate.

Most REO purchase contracts include this language because the property is being sold “as-is”.

Inexperienced agents may simply let this go, but I like to take fight back.  I recommend that my clients write offers that clearly articulate that the smoke & carbon monoxide detectors and the corresponding compliance certificate shall remain the responsibility of the Seller.  Some agents object, but if the Buyer’s offer is strong and well-qualified, most listing agents will submit to this request with an offer.

Mark J. Kiklis, REALTOR® at Kiklis Real Estate, LLC                            Follow Mark on Twitter

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How To Use Google Alerts In Your Real Estate Search

The first thing you need is an account with google. If you don’t one, click here to create one. I don’t know a single person without a google account, and in the event someone needs that link, I will be shocked.

Log in to Google Alerts to get started. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest Google results based on the queries you identify.

Most first-time buyers search for months, if not years. I recently closed a real estate transaction for a couple that had been searching for nearly four years. I wanted to hand them a B.S. degree in residential real estate, but I’m not an accredited institution of higher learning.

The platform is extremely simple and intuitive. I know how wonderful the accessibility of the MLS pictures and data has been for real estate sales professionals and clients, but after months of daily digest emails from the same realtor, the content may finds its way to the trash bin and not make it to your eyeballs.

You can control what, how often, and how many results are e-mailed to you when you set them up. Here are some ways you can use Google Alerts immediately:

  1. If you like a property, flag the address in the search query. You will receive the updates when there are open houses, price drops, news articles, etc.
  2. If you have a broad search (metro-Boston) and want to learn more about a town, enter the town, and keep up on what is newsworthy.
  3. If you have a soft spot for a particular street or condominium complex, save the name! Maybe another house or condo will come up for sale.
  4. Google alerts will catch chatter and the MLS will not. If someone comments on an newspaper article, or posts something on a public twitter profile, facebook page, LinkedIn account, or Google+ page, you will know about it!
  5. If you have been working with multiple real estate agents, enter the names of the agents and brokerage companies they work for. Its a great way to compare skill sets.
  6. If you have been pre-qualified with 2-3 loan officers, enter the banks information and the loan officers name so you can keep up with interest rates, offers and promotions, news, etc.

Its not 1985. Take advantage of all of the tools available to you as a prospective home-buyer.

Jack O’Donohue, Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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How Should We Take Title?

This is a critical question that you must answer for yourself. Many first-timers are purchasing homes with boyfriends, girlfriends, fiances, siblings, or friends. I recommend that you think about HOW you want to own the property with that person in advance of the closing. I’m amazed when people make these critical decisions at the closing table.

Reading this article is a great start. If you read the bottom section, you will see what you can look forward to if wedding bells are in your future!

Tenants In Common

  1. There are no survivorship rights between tenants in common.
  2. Each co-tenant has a right to possess the whole property and owns an individual part (that is freely transferrable).
  3. The ownership interest may be equal or unequal.
  4. If you want your ownership interest to pass to your heirs at law, and not the crazy person you just bought the house with, this is the option for you.

Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship:

  1. The term “rights of survivorship” means precisely what you think it would. If Boyfriend-Girlfriend own the house and Boyfriend dies, Girlfriend owns the house automatically by operation of law. Boyfriends interest does not pass to his heirs at law.
  2. All joint tenants hold title together.
  3. A joint tenant can sell or transfer his/her interest at any point. The resulting effect is that the buyer becomes a tenant in common with the non-selling owner/tenant.

WARNING: Do not read this next section unless you are married. 

Tenants by the entirety:

  1. Each spouse owns an undivided whole of the property.
  2. Includes rights of survivorship (discussed below)
  3. Creditors of one spouse may encumber that spouses share, but cannot defeat the rights of survivorship.
  4. Arises presumptively in any conveyance to married people unless stated otherwise.
  5. In the case of same-sex couples, a clear statement that the tenancy by the entirety is intended is required.
  6. Neither owner, acting alone, can defeat the right of survivorship by the unilateral conveyance to a third party.
  7. Divorce, death, or agreement by the parties are the only ways to sever this form of tenancy.

Jack O’Donohue, Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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Pre-Paying Homeowners Insurance

First-time homebuyers are often confused about homeowners insurance and the initial expense involved.

Mortgage lenders require that the first years premium is paid in full. If you chose to escrow the annual insurance premium, expect to pre-pay an additional 2-3 months up-front to fund your escrow account.

Some of this extra money is referred to as a “cushion”. The concept also applies to property taxes. This money covers unanticpated expenses such as an increased policy premium or higher property taxes. So when you close on your house in mid-October with the first payment to the bank due December 1st, there will be enough money available next fall to pay the annual premium when it comes due.

Be on the lookout at your closing for an initial escrow disclosure statement. This will account for all monies in the escrow account.

P.S. “Homeowners Insurance” is also known as “Hazard Insurance”. This name trickery often confuses people…It’s not a different insurance. The two are one in the same.

Jack O’Donohue, Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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