Friday, May 8, 2009

Q&A with Olivia Edwards, 2009 President SAMCAR

Happy Motherlovers' Day
We recently sat down in a question-and-answer session with Olivia Edwards, 2009 President of the San Mateo County Association of Realtors (SAMCAR), to glean advice for homeowners, home buyers and home sellers in the region.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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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 this market.

We recently sat down in a question-and-answer session with Olivia Edwards, the 2009 President of the San Mateo County (CA) Association of Realtors (SAMCAR), to get some advice for homeowners, home buyers and home sellers in San Mateo County.

Edwards has been a full time real estate agent since 1984 and earned entry into the top 1 percent of all sales associates nationwide. As a Realtor with the Platinum Group of McGuire Real Estate in Burlingame, CA, she is a Certified Residential Specialist, ePro, Certified New Homes Specialist, and has a National Association of Realtors GREEN Designation.

Edwards reads and writes Chinese, is also a productivity coach and guest lecturer at the College of San Mateo.

She's married to Gary Edwards and share two Corgi "girls," Emma and Sara.

Edwards is also busy as the leader of SAMCAR.

Q: What is SAMCAR?

A: SAMCAR is a trade organization serving 3,100 members with education, information and tools necessary to be successful realty professionals. SAMCAR is also a legislative advocate, supporting private property rights and home ownership opportunities.

The trade group enforces professional standards and a code of ethics to help protect consumers. SAMCAR members also benefit from the group's affiliation with the California Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.

Q: What is your role as president of SAMCAR?

A: My role is to carry out our mission; unify the real estate community; inspire and harvest great ideas and future leaders; to direct and support strategic planning; to motivate members to contribute to the community; and to always lead by example.

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 SAMCAR taking to help homeowners keep their homes?

A: First of all, not everyone should keep their home. It is very important for homeowners to face reality head on. They need to seek counsel and or answer the following questions honestly:

• Why are we struggling to pay the mortgage? Loss of job? Illness? Higher monthly payments?
• Is the mortgage more than the market value of the home? If so, this is not a good reason to discontinue making the mortgage payments.
• What were my goals when I purchased my home?
• How long did I plan to hold onto my home?
• What will happen financially if I continue to make the mortgage payments?
• Am I "unable" or "unwilling" to pay the mortgage?
• If I'm unable to pay the mortgage and do not wish to sell my home, have I contacted the lender about options or to start the loan modification process?
• If I want to keep the home, have I considered options, including getting a second job, renting out a portion of the home to help?
• If I can't afford to keep the home, have I contacted and Realtor to look into a short sale?

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

A: Part of our mission is to ensure professionalism, protect property rights, and promote the ownership of real property. Home buyers should use SAMCAR as their resource.

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

A: This is the primary role of our members. We have a public website to help connect buyers and sellers with our members. Go to and click on "Find a Realtor" for a Realtor specializing in your city. You can also click on "statistics" to learn about what is happening in your area in terms of sales of other homes.

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: Report the good and the bad. Describe the half empty glass, as well as the half full glass. Share what we lost and what we have. State the challenges and opportunities. Every story of someone losing value in their home should be balanced with the current affordability level for a new homebuyer. For each challenge there is an opportunity and that is rarely communicated.

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

A: Home sellers need to know why they are selling. If the answer is to try to get the price they were able to get a few years ago, they should not bother to put it on the market. If they do need to sell, they should accept the current market value. I would suggest they work with a professional Realtor or a team who will listen to their needs. To get the highest price for the property in today's market, they need to understand strategies, including proper pricing, property condition, staging, completing reports up front, disclosures, easy access, intensive marketing (signage, descriptive color brochures, Internet exposure, photos, weekly open houses), and working with a reputable Realtor.

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

A: They need to do their research and identify what kind of lifestyle they want. They need a down payment, and they need to find the amount of a monthly mortgage payment they feel most comfortable paying and they need to get pre-approved. they also need to understand all of the aspects of owning a home, including benefits and responsibilities, type of home wanted and buying for the right reason. Buyers need to take responsibility for their education and when in doubt, ask questions and trust gut instincts. Working with a Realtor or a team is imperative.

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

A: Always go back to why you bought your home in the first place. Ask yourself how long you planned to stay in the home when you first bought it. Remember, it's a home and an investment. In the meantime, continue to enjoy your life in your home and fix it up the way you want. Be smart with your money in an up or down market and live within your means.

Q: Are there any comments you'd like to make to your constituency, consumers or the public at large?

A: Real estate is the American Dream. This dream can be achieved through careful planning. Your home is a place for you to build your future. Your home is not an ATM machine. Regardless of how the market is, always go back to the basics, know your finances, have a budget and live according to your means. Spend less than you make, have a savings plan, keep educating yourself on finance, real estate, tax savings, negotiation, communication and goal setting. Furthermore, take advantage of your tax write offs, and participate and contribute to your community.

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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!

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