April 9, 2011

Short Sales… not worth it?

As agents, we have been given 3 new addendum/disclosures to show our short sale clients. This has prompted my thoughts on this post:

Home value is a relative thing. The definition is, “What a buyer is willing to pay.” That isn’t really true because the lenders have so much to say about that, …for good reason. They don’t want to give someone a load of money on a house that isn’t worth what they lent. If the buyer defaults, they are stuck holding a house they lose money on. They aren’t going to be in business long if they do that too often.

Many people need to sell their homes but the current market is making it impossible to get a good price. That forces them to offer their homes at less than they owe. That is called a “Short Sale”.  Agents advertise a home at a great price, (too often, too good to be true), wait for an offer, then submit it to the lender/mortgage holder for approval. It often takes a long time and a lot of paperwork if the agent knows what he/she is doing to get an approval on a short sale. Choose your agent wisely. Too many short sales fail for no other reason than the agent didn’t know what they were doing.

Too often the advertised price is so ridiculous, a lot of buyers get sucked into the idea of getting something for nothing and get caught in the black hole of short sales blues.

Hopefully, the offer is finally reviewed, in the lender’s due time, and if the agent has done his/her job well enough,, the lender will most likely come back with a more realistic price or offer they ARE willing in accept, and the buyer has the option of accepting it or moving on to the next “too good to be true” listed home for sale.

If the original buyer moves on , which is most likely the case, the agent then can list the home at the price the lender has said they will accept and hope a buyer will be willing to pay that price. If the price has already been approved, it can make the short sale process go a lot smoother at that point.

Up till now, the biggest problem with short sales is the seller loses twice. Not only do they lose their home at less than they owe, but the lender will file a 1099 on the loss. The difference in the price they lent the owner and lower sales price to the new buyer is a loss for them so they claim it as a loss on their taxes. The IRS then comes knocking on the seller’s door and wants them to pay on that “gain”. It is like getting slapped in the face twice. It is sad.

Now, because of these new addendum/disclosures, I have come to understand the lender can come back to the seller and sue them for the difference. They did sign contract, after all. I am not sure how many years (it is significant), they have to come after the seller for breaching the original contract but it is surprising they can still do this after all the seller has to go through to complete a short sale.

So, they lose their home, at a price less than they paid. They are responsible for the taxes on that difference and now, I’ve learned, they are liable to pay that difference back to the lender anyway. 3 slaps in the face so far, and counting. (Not counting the ding in your credit score for year to come)

It seems short sales are not a very good thing for a seller. I highly recommend you look into other options. The consequences seem to catch up to you and are much too harsh.


Susan Jackson and/or CENTURY 21 Bushnell is not associated with the government, and our service is not approved by the government or your lender. Even if you accept this offer and use our service, your lender may not agree to change your loan. If you stop paying your mortgage, you could lose your home and damage your credit rating.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a rule that requires real estate agents to provide certain disclosures when representing sellers in a short sale transaction.

February 24, 2011

Coyotes, Bobcats, Bears…and Sharks!

Shark Pic taken by my husband, June 09, Roatan Honduras

If you know me then you know that I love to scuba dive. When I am not diving, I am trying to figure out how I can get somewhere so I can dive. I like to try new places and have been to many different vacation destinations. When I travel, I always pay attention to the real estate atmosphere of the area we are in. I take pictures of homes for sale, I grab brochures, talk to the locals, and have even visited the local real estate offices in order to educate myself on the market wherever I visit. My knowledge and experience have come in handy for many people over the years as they consider buying a vacation home. If you are considering buying a vacation home in a tropical area, give me call or email me. I would love to share my thoughts on the places I’ve been.

Now, back to diving…

Since I love to dive, I talk about it… a lot. I hope I am not one of those people that go on and on, boring everyone that will listen with every detail… but I probably am.

Since I talk about it a lot, the most common response I get is, “I would like to try diving but I am afraid of sharks.”

That is such a common statement but my husband recently made an analogy that I wanted to share. I can’t remember word for word so I will put it in terms I can remember and explain, but the idea was his.

Many people say they won’t dive because they are afraid of sharks but few will say they will not go to Yellowstone because they are afraid of all the wild animals. Millions of people go to Yellowstone in spite of the fact that it is full of wild beasts that can and have killed people over the years.   (While we were there for a family vacation a few years back, we bought the book, “Deaths in Yellowstone” and took turns reading it out loud during our visit so we are acutely, and a bit humorously, aware of how dangerous Yellowstone can be.)

So, we visited Yellowstone and while there, we were excited to see a coyote. You don’t see them everyday so it was a treat for us and while Coyotes wouldn’t frighten too many people, no one is going to go try and pet one, right?

Ok, next, we saw a lot of Buffalo. They are magnificent creatures. They may seem harmless from a distance but again, you wouldn’t want to get too close and try to pet one. They have been known to hurt many a tourist when approached.

We saw several black bears that trip. Talk about exciting. There was even one that came over the ridge while we were fishing. We were all spread out along the bank of the river and I quickly rounded up my little kiddies and moved to a safe distance from our car and my big strong husband. In the end, there was no cause for alarm, but I do not regret taking caution.

Finally, while we were driving along on the North end which is less traveled than the rest of the park, we spotted a bear and her cub crossing the road. My husband wanted to get a picture so he got out the car and walked down the hill a bit trying to get a good shot. It didn’t take long before he realized this was not just a Black Bear but rather a Grizzly, and a mother Grizzly at that. He carefully backed away and got into the car and was happy to have experienced that sighting without harm. Grizzly bears are much more aggressive and attack more often than Black bears.

So, my husband’s analogy about diving with sharks is kind of like our trip to Yellowstone. There are many different kinds of sharks. There are Coyote sharks, there are Buffalo sharks, Black Bear sharks and …Grizzly Sharks.

Most sharks have the ability to harm a human, but will not. People have been harmed, just like at Yellowstone, when they do not exercise caution, and try to pet them or molest them in some way, but in most cases, they will run, or swim the other way when you approach.

I have come across several species and some, such as a Nurse Shark, are almost docile and just want to be left alone to sleep in the sand on the bottom. You can look from a distance but if you get too close, they swim away, I am sure annoyed at being disturbed.

I have seen a few different Reef Sharks as well. They look more menacing but I have yet to see one that didn’t want to just get away as we approached.

There are 3 kinds of sharks that I would be happy to never run across. The Bull Shark is one of them and there is a possibility that I will see one someday since they are often found in clear, tropical water. They are big and while harmless, most of the time, can be onery and aggressive.  I am pretty sure I would live to tell about it but I would still rather not see one.

The others are Great Whites and Tiger Sharks. I believe the odds of running into these are slim. Great Whites tend to like murky water so they can ambush their prey. There isn’t much point in diving in water if you can’t see anything.

Tiger Sharks are just hungry. They will eat anything, anywhere. The possibility of running across one of those is higher if you are in Hawaii and I am still  not sure that shark we cornered, albeit accidentally, in the cave off Lana’i wasn’t a Tiger. In person, it looked like it had stripes but the camera/pictures wasn’t able to prove it. If it was a Tiger, we were lucky that it wanted nothing more than to get away from us and out of that cave.

I also take comfort in the statistics. Scuba divers have rarely, very rarely, been attacked by sharks and even of those, the diver was trying to pet the shark, ride it, or molest it in someway. Most shark attacks happen on the surface so before I surface, I take a good look around before I head up to the boat. ha ha

Then there is always my final strategy. You should never dive without a dive buddy. It is unsafe to do so. I always carry a dive knife as well. I figure if I see a hungy shark coming my way, I can just use my knife.

Some say it is best to aim for the gills and others say aim for the eyes. I say, aim for my dive buddy and while he is bleeding, I should have plenty of time to get away.   :D

July 1, 2009

More On Honduras

 From: Kent Burnes

If you are receiving this email it is because we need your help. |
There has NOT been a coup in Honduras, The country is NOT in crisis.

This all started over a year ago when our president Mel Zelaya
with the help of Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega began shredding the Honduran
Constitution and setting the stage for him to become dictator of Honduras.

As we neared the November elections that would seat a new president, Zelaya became more ruthless.
Zelaya was informed more than once that his actions were outside the bounds of the
Honduran Constitution.

Zelaya earlier this year denounced democracy and announced he would seed an Venezuelan style of
government, he then began receiving large sums of cash from Hugo Chavez. 

This last week tensions mounted as the National Congress after a ruling from the Honduran
SUPREME COURT that Mel Zelaya has committed crimes against the Constitution. 
As Chavez and Ortega offered Military assistance the National Congress of Honduras,
The people of Honduras and the Courts of Honduras did not flinch,
They stood beside their Constitution and detained by order of the National Congress Mel Zelaya for crimes against the Constitution.

President Zelaya and a small portion of the population tried to highjack the country
and destroy democracy in favor of a Chavez-style government.  Zelaya was
shredding the constitution he swore to protect in order to stay in power past constitutional limits
and firmly align Honduras with Venezuela.


President Zelaya was clearly, and more than once, informed officially, that his actions were outside of the
 constitution and law.  Given his obedience to Hugo Chavez and Chavez’s money,
Zelaya was a traitor to this country in the truest sense of the word. I am
 writing to you as an American investor living in Honduras to express my admiration
and respect for this country and how its government handled this crisis. 

They were faced with a difficult situation that was only growing worse. This was NOT a
coup, but a criminal arrest.  Hondurans should be applauded for how they
handled this! They used their Constitution and stood firmly in the face of Chavez, Orgega,
Morales, and Castro and said no to this form of Government.

You would think the US would be applauding the situation.
The US will, if not careful, give Chavez and Ortega the fuel they need to invade Honduras
and remove our democratic form of Government. 
We can not believe the news reports and the statements by our representatives. 
We need your help. All Americans and Hondurans are franticly
emailing and sending information to the US.  We need you to forward this email to your local news station,
CNN, contacts that you may have at any level of government.
Email your senator, congressman, Please pass this along. If the US ushers Zelaya back into power they are
condemning this country to a communist regime.
Has a deal been struck between the US and Chavez for Honduras??????

Kent Burnes, Honduras

Filed under: Blogroll,Community,Personal,Real Estate,Vacation Homes/Resort — Susan @ 8:43 pm

June 30, 2009


My family and spent a great week on the small island of Roatan Honduras this month. We enjoyed the beautiful grounds and atmosphere of the Bay Island Beach Resort and dived till our hearts content. I usually post an area report of our trips for those of you who may be considering purchasing a vacation home. I do love to travel and have been to many places that would be considered desirable vacation home areas and I hope my experience can be found useful to my clients.

Shortly after our return, however, I heard that Honduras experienced a military coup. I did some research and had a difficult time finding reliable information on the situation. I emailed the owner of the resort for his insights and the following is his response.


 Hi Susan,

I’m glad you guys had a good time. We enjoyed having you. It was a good week.

The news organizations are not accurately reporting the situation in Honduras, instead using dramatic headlines announcing a military takeover.

They are saying there was a coup d’etat in which the military deposed President Mel Zelaya and took charge of the government, suggesting a military dictatorship. This is not so.

In fact, 100% of the Honduran National Congress and the Honduran Supreme Court declared that the President had violated, and was continuing to violate, the laws of the country. His own liberal party opposed him, the Congress opposed him, the military opposed him, and probably 80 – 90% of the population opposed him. The government and the military are in concert. They are not, and were not, adversaries.

Zelaya supposedly signed a letter of resignation, perhaps under duress, which was accepted by congress. He was removed from the country by the military, but the military did not, and has not, taken control of the country.

The Vice President had resigned last year because he is running for President, and under Honduran law, prohibits a candidate running for public office to also serve in a national office. So the next in the line of succession is the President of the National Congress, Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in as Provisional President until the election in November.

This was not a coup like those of the past in Latin America ; it was essentially an impeachment process.

Some of the things that Zelaya wanted to do were blatantly illegal and unpopular. He was trying to change the provision of the constitution to allow him to run again, which is expressly prohibited and which provision may not be amended.

There is widespread joy by the Honduran people at his removal, who were becoming increasingly concerned over Zelaya’s socialist / communist leanings and his close alliances with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela , Evo Morales of Bolivia, and the Castros of Cuba and the other ALBA countries.       What is ALBA?

In an abundance of caution, the Tegucigalpa government imposed a 2 day night time curfew which expires tomorrow morning. There have been isolated protests in some of the major cities, mainly Tegucigalpa , where a few remaining supporters are burning tires in the streets.
We expect Hugo Chavez and the Presidents of the ALBA countries, at their meeting today in Managua , to rattle their sabers and make threats to restore Zelaya to power, but we do not think the Honduran people will permit that to happen.

The political situation is better now than it was last week. The only way it could get worse, in my opinion, is if the pressure of the world leaders get him restored to power!

On Roatan, it’s life as usual. Had we not been watching the news, we would have no indication that anything had happened. At Bay Islands Beach Resort, our guests are enjoying their vacations and diving, as usual. Airlines have been flying their regular schedules.

Keep life interesting.

With best regards to everyone,

Ted O’Brien 


Tomorrow, I will post another letter from a different resident of Honduras

Filed under: Blogroll,Community,Personal,Vacation Homes/Resort — Susan @ 10:57 am

February 23, 2009

Adventures in Flying

As I mentioned in my last post, we like to travel so we fly quite a bit. My husband and I have seen several interesting things while traveling:

One man decided he was going to open the door while in flight.

Someone sits in the wrong seat on almost every flight, then refuses to give up the seat.

One man took some kind of drug in flight and a doctor had to be called because of his erratic, then unresponsive behavior.

The lady who refused to follow any instructions then accused the crew of being disrespectful to her.

Kids kicking the back of our chairs the whole flight.

The moment the seat belt light comes on, everyone jumps up to use the lavatory.

The pilot missed the walkway entrance and the plane had to be pushed out for another attempt.

We arrived 1 hour and 10 minutes before our flight when 1 hour was recommended. We checked in but the security lines were very long and we made it to the gate as the door closed. The attendant refused to open the door and let us on even though we have seen them do that before. He was not willing to help us at all, so we went back to the check-in counter and talked to the attendant that checked us in initially.

She tried to find every excuse to make it our fault. She told us we didn’t check in soon enough but records showed that to be false, then she said we were found to have an “undeclared weapon” to which we laughed. We carry our scuba diving regulators with us when we travel and yes, TSA has to take a second look everytime we go through security but there was no weapon. Eventually, when she couldn’t find any fault with us, she was forced to find us another flight. There was only one other flight that day or we would have to wait 2 more days to leave. She warned us that we would have to really run to catch the second leg of our flight. She was right. We got off the plane, ran as fast as we could–luckily the next flight was in the same terminal but on the other side–and made it in time to be the last ones on the next flight. That was an adventure but we made it to Hawaii an hour before the rest of our party on the original flight.

These are just a few of what those in my family has experienced.
If you have a story you would like to share, please do it in “comments”.
I would love to hear from you.


August 18, 2008

I’m Back From Belize

Tobacco Caye, Belize

Belize was great!  We spent about 10 days on Tobacco Caye.  We dived at least 2 dives each day and just enjoyed the small, quiet island the rest of the time: snorkeling, fishing, reading, eating, lounging, hammocking??, beaching??.  ( I know these are not real words but you understand exactly what I mean, right?)   We stayed at Reef’s End Lodge which is run by the Jackson family.  It seems that we run into Jacksons all over the caribbean.  Mrs. Darla Jackson was a great cook. 

The diving was excellent.   The fishlife was not quite as abundant as some of the other places I have dived and with the exception of some lobster and a certain nurse shark, what we did see seemed smaller than usual.   The reefs were in wonderful condition, however.  I don’t think I have seen so much healthy coral anywhere else.  

We did a night dive which was cool.  There is a great dive site which can be dived right from the shore.  We waded out from the pier then snorkeled until we got to a good depth to dive.  The deepest part of the dive was only 40 feet but much of the dive was even more shallow.  We saw several octopus, a larger squid than usual, lobsters, crabs, starfish, a spotted moray eel, and something that is called “The Thing”.  It looked like a mini-version of a creature from a horror film.  (I am thinking of the movie “Tremors”).  It was a long worm-like creature that was semi-transparent with brown spots or stripes.  It was kind of segmented and one end had at least 3 tentacles.  I was glad it was only about 18 inches long because it would have given me the creeps if it were 6 feet long or something. 

We strayed from Tobbaco Caye two days for diving and went to Glover’s Atoll one day and South Water Caye another.  At Glover’s, we did Long Caye Wall.  A dive that Jacques Cousteau claimed as one of his top three dives of all time.  It was pretty amazing but one of my top three dives so far will have to be Carrie Bow Wall at South Water Caye .   This wall started out the usual awesome wall dive, as most are, but eventually it somehow turned into a Two Wall dive??  I can only describe it as breathtaking when we reached the top of the wall we had been diving and we were floating along a narrow ridge, looking down into the abyss on both sides.  I will never forget that one.

One day, we were coming back in from a dive when the captain spotted a Manatee. We all frantically threw on our snorkels and jumped in. It was amazing. It looked like a huge white walrus with a paddle tail. It hung out, eating grass about 15 feet right below me then slowly worked his way out of sight. He did not seem to be upset about us at all. It may have been a once in a lifetime experience. As if that was not luck enough, later that same day, we were coming back in from our second dive. This time the captain spotted two dolphins. They are more wary of people so we quietly slipped into the water and I was able to catch a quick glimpse of them about 20 feet away. That was a good day!

Again, if you are considering buying a home in an exotic, tropical location, give me a call.  I love to talk about the places I have been and when I travel, I keep my eyes open for just such reports. 

Reef’s End Lodge and Dive Shack

Pristine Coral Garden and Lobster

More Coral

Moray eels

The most exciting safety stop. A Remora decided to taste us!


Octopus and turtle

A larger octopus

“The Thing”

August 7, 2008


I hate to rub it in, but by the time this blog posts, I will be in Belize. I will be spending 10 days underwater and on the beach. I am looking forward to this vacation as most of my family will be with me this trip. I have actually been to Belize once before but we did not dive that trip. Belize is supposed to have excellent diving. I will be sure to post pictures and give a report when I get back.

I will also be sure to check out the real estate market while I am there. I always try to get a feel for the market when I am on vacation so that I will be ready if any of my clients ask about a great place to buy a vacation/beach home. If you would like information about the places I have been, feel free to email me or give me a call. You might be surprised to find all the places I have visited as far as tropical beach locations are concerned and I love to talk about them.

See you when I get back.

Filed under: Buying,Personal,Real Estate,Selling,Vacation Homes/Resort — Susan @ 7:38 pm

June 20, 2008

Costa Rica Travel Pics

Here are a few pictures from my trip to Costa Rica:

Me Careening Wildly Across a Zip-Line
From Tree to Tree

12 Ft Crocodile (In a Wildlife Refuge)
Me Diving in Costa Rica (notice the visibility)

Spotted Scorpion Fish

Isla Tortuga

(drag the image into your URL box to see them in full size)

Filed under: Real Estate,Vacation Homes/Resort — Susan @ 7:13 am