Monday, March 16, 2009

Q&A with Kim DiBenedetto, 2009 President MCAR

Kim DiBenedetto
President MCAR
Real estate leader Kim DiBenedetto says there's no time like the present to have a licensed, association affiliated real estate agent on your side.
by Broderick Perkins

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
Enter The Deadline Newsroom

Unauthorized use of this story is a copyright violation -- a federal crime

Deadline Newsroom - With so much uncertainty in the housing market, it's a good time to seek insight from real estate leaders who have their fingers on the pulse of the market.

We recently sat down in a question-and-answer session with Kim DiBenedetto, the 2009 president of the Monterey County Association of Realtors to get some advice for homeowners, home buyers and home sellers.

DiBenedetto is also a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Del Monte Realty in Carmel and has been a top sales producer for nine years. She's been president and active with the Women's Council of Realtors' Monterey Peninsula Chapter and was a 2008 member of the Coldwell Banker International President's Circle.

She's married to general contractor Jeff DiBenedetto. They have a daughter Julia currently attending Syracuse University.

DiBenedetto says there's no time like the present to have a licensed, association affiliated real estate agent on your side.

Q: The housing crisis is on the minds of everyone, especially homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages, potential home buyers and those who want to sell their home. What steps are you, in your role as president, and MCAR taking to help homeowners keep their homes?

A: We educate our members so that they may better assist home owners and home buyers make the right decision for their situation. We have an excellent Government and Community Affairs Director who keeps us current on new legislation that could affect any of our members and their clients. Working with our legislative representatives, we are advocates for private property rights. As advocates we also make sure our clients' voices are heard when they cannot do it themselves.

Q: Likewise, what can home buyers expect from the association?

A: Not only will buyers get a licensed agent to represent them in a professional and ethical way, they will also have access to the latest legal issues, new legislation, new forms, the most current market information and the latest on the ever changing REO (bank owned) and short sale processes.

Q: How does the association assist homeowners who want to sell their home?

A: In addition to the advantages of professional representation, the website for our association, is helpful for both buyers looking for homes and owners who want to sell their home. The site offers listing services, consumer information, the latest statistical information, a weekly open house list, and community lifestyles information.

Q: There have been some complaints from the real estate industry that the media is not fair in its coverage of the housing crisis. How can the media assist the association and the public in terms of reporting about the crisis and other housing issues?

A: The most important factor is that all real estate is local. It really doesn't matter what the real estate market is doing in Bakersfield or Chicago or Baltimore if someone is thinking of buying or selling in Monterey County. To highlight state or national figures really makes no sense. We need to focus on what is going on here in Monterey County and more specifically in each individual area of the county. The local market is so segmented, that there are different price ranges and different levels of activity in each city. It's not the media's responsibility to be real estate experts. That's what we at MCAR are here for -- to be the source of the most reliable real estate information.

Q: The Obama administration's "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan" rolled out in March. The $275 Billion Plan includes:

• A refinancing program for "responsible" borrowers who haven't missed payments and whose loans are larger than the value of their homes.

• A loan modification provision with incentives for lenders to modify certain mortgages.

• A change to bankruptcy rules to allow judicial mortgage modifications designed to reduce mortgage balances to fair market value.

How will these provisions play in Monterey County?

A: We aren't certain yet how the lenders will execute the plan so we don't know for sure how it will play out, but it should help many in our county.

What's most important is the extension of higher conforming loan limits that allow buying and refinancing more expensive properties at the lowest market interest rates. The conforming loan limit in Monterey County has been raised from $417,000 to $729,750. Without the higher conforming loan limits most of these vehicles to help homeowners stay in their homes would be worthless as most loans in jeopardy are higher than the previous limit of $417,000.

We are keeping the public informed at the MCAR Online Forum & Blog.

We are concerned the new bankruptcy rules could raise the interest rates we all pay on our loans because the reduction of mortgage balances by bankruptcy judges may cause lenders to adjust that loss with higher interest rates on new loans. This could negatively impact home buyers and refinancing homeowners who are otherwise taking advantage of some the lowest rates in recent history.

Q: What advice do you think home sellers need most in the current housing market?

A: Just because your neighbor's house sold a year ago or even a month ago for a certain price doesn't necessarily mean you can get the same price. Every niche of the market has different activity. Sellers' pricing strategy has to be precise or your home will sit for longer than it should. That could diminish it's value. Sellers need reliable market information that Realtors provide.

Q: What advice do you think home buyers need most in the current housing market?

A: Again, the most important thing is to have current market information along with a skilled negotiator. I know a Realtor whose client found a home she liked at an open house but when the Realtor assessed the situation for her, they decided to keep looking and ended up getting a larger home in a better location for almost the same money. Without his expert knowledge the buyer could have purchased a lesser home in a less desirable location.

Q: What advice do you think homeowners most need in the current housing market?

A: Real estate has always been a long term investment and, over time, it's still the best investment you can make. Even if your home is not worth what you paid for it at the moment, with time it will bounce back. The key is to remember that a home is more than an investment, it is a lifestyle. Ideally, it is best if you can pay an additional amount each month towards the principle of your loan. If that is not possible, it is important to at least pay the interest only payment if you have an adjustable rate mortgage. If that is not possible, you may want to consider applying for a loan modification to allow you to stay in your home or a short sale, if you decide you need relief from the debt. Your Realtor can help you examine your options.

• More Monterey County, CA news that really hits home.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Advertise on DeadlineNews.Com

Shop DeadlineNews.Com

Get news that really hits home for your Web site or blog from DeadlineNews.Com.

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also a National Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

(Also, while waiting for real estate to recover, the DeadlineNews Group is going off the beaten path for a while...)

DeadlineNews.Com's Editorial Content Is Intellectual Property • Unauthorized Use Is A Federal Crime

No comments: