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May. 5, 2009 - A short sale is not really for sale

On Rain City Guide, some time ago I wrote a post called Should You Buy a Short Sale Property?  That post was written for a client of mine who was already in the escrow process on a short sale.  It covers a lot of ground, but recently I am seeing more confusion by people making offers on short sale properties, than those in escrow on short sale properties.

This morning I followed a link on Twitter purporting to be a mini-tutorial on distressed property sales from short sales to foreclosures to REO Property.  It said this about short sales:

"A short sale is a property... that is put up for sale with the lender's permission..."

That is so not true.  The lender in most cases has NOT given permission, and does not interact with the short sale process until there is an offer on the property.

This is causing a lot of confusion, especially when the lienholder approval number is higher than the asking price.  The best analogy I can give is if a wife put a house up for sale without asking her husband.  Then when she has an offer, she goes to the husband for him to agree with the price she put the property on for.  He might refuse to sell it period, he might agree and sign the offer, he might hold out for more money than the asking price.  Such is a short sale. 

The person with the ultimate authority to approve the offer, is NOT consulted prior to the property going on market, in most cases.  So a short sale is not REALLY "for sale"...it's "maybe" for sale.  The lienholder may decide to reject ALL offers and take the property instead.

I'll try to write a post in more detail on Rain City Guide when I have a chance.  In the meantime, knowing a short sale is not necesarily "for sale" may help some people who are currently making offers on short sale properties.

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Dec. 9, 2006 - Multiple Offers and Meatballs

We are submitting an offer tomorrow on a property in Seattle that will likely have MEGA offers.  My estimate is 15-20 or more.  Since this MAY be an exercise in futility, given someone else may be willing to overpay for it...and we and our clients are not...we decided to have the clients over for dinner.  If nothing else comes out of it, at least the kids will be fed :-)  So for the little boy of the group, I decided meatballs and spaghetti and my partner Kim is preparing mac and cheese on the side...just in case.

When there are going to be MEGA offers, you don't want to let the offer out of your hands until just before they are going to be considered.  So, in the meantime, we are going to have meatballs and spaghetti before signing the offer.  Gives me more time to make sure the buyers have really thought about their offer from every aspect, before I type it during dessert.

Since everyone loves my meatballs, and I really don't have a recipe, as I can make them in my sleep, I thought I'd jot down the recipe here as I'm making them.  If for no other reason than for my own daugters to have "the recipe".  Ingredients are in this size print so I don't have to list that separately. Don't use "Italian seasoning".  There is one spice in there that is really only for Pizza (oregano), and not for pasta, so don't assume "Italian Seasoning" is appropriate for anything other than pizza type dishes.

You start with ground beef.  This is the "child approved" version, and so has no pork or veal...just plain old ground beef.  Take out one egg per pound, averaging down.  2.5 lbs equals two eggs.  3.2 lbs equals three eggs.  One egg per pound of meat, averaging down to the round number and excluding the fraction.  You can use plain bread crumbs or seasoned bread crumbs.  Doesn't really matter as I still season it the same either way.  You need more parsley flakes anyway.  I've never measured anything in this recipe except to know the egg to meat proportion, so I'll have to measure as I go.  I have a package of ground beef that is 2.46 lbs, so I've taken out two eggs, bread crumbs (seasoned) and parsley flakes so far.  These are the "must haves" to make meatballs, so don't start until you know you have these things on hand.  The rest you will have...or can live without.

Always break up your eggs first with a whisk in the bowl, before you do anything with the meat.  Add the seasonings to the eggs to avoid big patches of clumped seasoning in one meatball.  I added 1/4 cup of parsley flakes to the eggs and am letting that sit so the dry flakes soften.  Another way is to crush the flakes into the eggs using both hands rubbing back and forth to break up the flakes.  I usually do that, but I'm measuring, making and typing all at the same time here...so I skipped that step to avoid parsley flakes in my keyboard. 

Next we add 1/4 cup of grated (not shredded) cheese.  I like locatelli or pecorino romano, but parmesan will do in a pinch.  Locatelli you can get from Borrichini's (I think that's how you spell it) and it's normally a dry mix that lasts very long in your fridge.  Pecorino Romano I get from Trader Joe's, when they have it, but Trader Joe's is a little too purist and I've had it turn green too fast, so better to buy a chunk and grate it yourself as needed or get it within a few days of making the meatballs.  Parmesan...go for it...no advice there, as I rarely use it and am not sure how that particular cheese got so popular for making all Italian dishes in America.

Seasonings.  Two shakes of regular ground pepper.  Three turns of ground black peppercorns. Alessi makes a grate little product that you can find in the spice section of your grocery store, that is a glass jar of peppercorns with it's own build in grinder as the cap!  Fabulous!  Two generous shakes of garlic powder (NOT garlic SALT!)  No salt in the meatballs!!  The salt is in the pasta water, not in the meatballs.  That's really an old James Beard thing...never salt your meat when you cook it.  Only at the table.  If you want salty meatballs, sprinkle that on your plate on your meatballs, but the cook should never salt beef, whether it's meatballs, hamburgers or steak.  I forget why...but James Beard said so, and while I don't always agree with him...I decided 30 years ago to follow his advice on the whole don't salt the beef thing.

I've never measured any of this and measuring bread crumbs seems a bit sacrilegious, even as I do it, but I'm starting with 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs added directly to the eggs.  I've added two tablespoons of water.  My Mom totally freaks out if you don't add two tablespoons of water to the bread crumbs.  She insists that those meatballs some people make that are like rubber and that you can bounce off the walls, come out that way because of this whole two tablespoons of water thing.  So I just put in two tablespoons of water to make my Mom happy.  Now you add the ground beef to the egg mixture.  Eventually you will have to get your hands in there, but I could never get my kids to put their hands in there while the eggs were this runny.  So for those who are equally grossed out by putting their hands in runny eggs, just mix the meat in with the seasoned egg mixture with a meat fork or large fork (not spoon) of any kind.  I had to ditch the fork and get my hands in there to figure out the bread crumb measurement for you.  You have to know what it's supposed to feel like at the end to know how much bread crumbs you need...so since I'm measuring for the first time, I've got to get my hands in there.

Add a second 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, mix them in, and then add a third 1/4 cup of bread crumbs (that's 3/4 cup of bread crumbs all together).  It's important to mix the bread crumbs in gradually to avoid clumps of bread crumbs.  You toss the bread crumbs on top of th meat, then you lift the meat and shake the excess that doesn't stick to the meat into the bowl underneath and lay the uncrumbed side of the meat back down into the bowl.  You mix what sticks into the meat and repeat this process by turning the meat into the dry crumbs until all of the crumbs are in the meat...and then you do it all again with that last 1/4 cup of crumbs.

Now you fry them on a high fire in olive oil to thoroughly brown the outside of the meatballs, moving them around constantly so the meatballs stay round and don't go flat on one side.  When they are brown on the outside (not cooked in the middle-it's not a round hamburger) you drain them on a paper towel to remove the excess oil and fat rolling them to remove as much oil and fat as possible and then drop them into your pasta sauce to cook for at least an hour before your company arrives.  You never put the pasta in the pot until you see the whites of the eyes of the dinner guests!  Cooking the meatballs in the pasta sauce will season your sauce.

If the pasta sauce changes from red to brown by the time it is done...then you will understand why we Italians call our pasta sauce "gravy".

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Dec. 5, 2006 - Bite Your Tongue!

What you say and when you say it, can make the difference in what your buyer client will pay for a house, and in some cases, whether they will get the house at all.  I can't tell you how many times agents tell me things they should not, about how a buyer may have floundered over their decision to make an offer.  An indecisive buyer equals risk for the seller.  Risk equals higher return for the person willing to take that risk, in all markets.

While it is very important for agents to establish a rapport with the agent for the other party in the transaction, all too often agents forget that they are not "buddies".  Everything that is said can affect the clients' position.  The trick is to always say the right thing at the right time, without the other agent realizing that you are carefully choosing your words and timing the release of information, to your clients' best advantage. 

No one likes to be "played"...so the best of "players" must never appear to be "scripting" or "calculating".  Never say bad things to the other agent about your client.  By venting your frustrations in that manner, you are working against the very objective you were hired by your client to achieve.  This may sound obvious, but again, I cannot tell you how many times the agent for the other client in the transaction, has vented their frustration with the client's behavior, while presenting an offer on their behalf.  I cannot treat these adverse representations as confidential conversations.  There is no confidentiality between agents.  Everything negative that you present regarding the clients with the offer, becomes information that is conveyed to the seller, along with the offer.


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ARDELL DellaLoggia of Sound Realty on Seattle Real Estate process and market including Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Green Lake and most areas around the top of Lake Washington North of Downtown Seattle. Phone: 206-910-1000 - Mailto:ARDELLd@gmail.com

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