Buyers are always looking for a way to connect with a seller, especially in today's market where bidding wars are happening with almost every home as soon as it goes on the market. From Facebook connections to 6-degrees of separation, buyers go to great lengths to find a reason for the seller to choose their bid. One growing fad to entice sellers to choose their bid on the home is by writing "love letters." Look, these things never worked for me in high school, and I don't recommend them to home buyers today. While these letters from the heart may seem harmless, trust me, they can open you up to potential problems that you could not have seen coming.
I know what you're thinking, "Patrick, how could a letter be so bad?"
Technically, the letter is not the issue. The problem lies in the information that is put into the swooning stanzas of these letters that do more than just raise the attention of the seller. Unfortunately, they actually raise fair housing concerns because oftentimes they contain personal information and reveal characteristics of the buyer, such as race, religion, marital status, and more that could be used, either consciously or unknowingly by the seller, to accept or reject a certain bid from a buyer unlawfully. Crazy, right?
Don't believe me. Let's take a look at the following scenario…
(Cue Wayne's World Dissolve Sequence)
Let's say a potential buyer in the Mahoning Valley includes a letter with their bid that talks about envisioning stockings hung by the fireplace with care as the children race down the stairs to open presents on Christmas morning for many years to come. While on the surface this statement may get you into the holiday spirit, it reveals to the seller both the marital status of the potential buyer as well as their religious beliefs. Both characteristics are protected pieces of personal information under fair housing laws. By including this in the letter and, even if it is innocently referenced and used to accept or decline an offer, rather than simply decide using the terms or price of the offer, it is a clear violation of the Fair Housing Act.
(Back to Reality)
I can already hear you asking your next question, "But Patrick, how bad can the punishment be?" It's like the old saying goes when you are looking at expensive items to buy: "If you have to ask how much it is, you can't afford it."
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, "The maximum civil penalties are $16,000, for a first violation of the Act; $37,500 if a previous violation has occurred within the preceding five-year period; and $65,000 if two or more previous violations have occurred within the preceding seven-year period." And just like that, your down payment is down the drain.
We live in an area where we are always trying to find an edge, whether it be by knowing the person from high school, through a friend of a friend or that we "got a guy" who can help us out to win during a bidding war. While that might be true, love letters are not the key to the heart of the deal. The best way to win the seller over is by putting your best deal forward and allowing your Realtor® do the negotiating and convincing for you. This will give you the best opportunity to ensure your heart (and your wallet) doesn't get broken.
Youngstown State University Williamson College of Business Administration awarded the annual John Burgan Entrepreneurship Award to senior student, Andrew Boyer. The $2,400 award, established by Patrick Burgan in honor of his father, John Burgan, was awarded to Boyer, a Computer-Digital-Electrical Engineering major, to help continue his start-up lighting, sound, and networking technology business. Boyer was selected from all eligible entries and proposals from YSU students who are aspiring entrepreneurs with established solutions or businesses they currently offer while in school. For the first time since the award was created in 2019, a $500 honorable mention award was presented to Annabelle Himes.
"The second year of the John Burgan Entrepreneurship Award brought more interest this year from YSU students looking to make their dreams of owning and growing their own business a reality," said Patrick Burgan, co-broker and second-generation owner of Burgan Real Estate, who created this award in honor of his father in 2019. "We are constantly impressed with the talent and passion the students delivered with their entries and wanted to reward two individuals this year. Andrew clearly separated himself, continuing to serve as a testament to the talent and passion YSU continues to foster in its students. We are excited to assist Andrew and Annabelle with a financial award for all of their hard work in representing the spirit this award was meant to recognize."
Established in 2018, Boyer and fellow YSU student, John Galvin of Howland, founded Chromaticity Technologies. The company, specializing in special effects lighting, sound, and networking technology, was contracted by BRITE Energy Innovators last Fall for a project on David Grohl Alley, a small street just a block off Courthouse Square in downtown Warren. The project featured a 70-foot-long canopy of 26,000-LED lights as well as a four-speaker system synced to the LEDs to add more to the alley named after 2-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician/songwriter/performer and Warren native, David Grohl, founder of the Foo Fighters and former drummer of Nirvana.
With the number of entries received this year, YSU decided to recognize a second submission with a $500 honorable mention award. This is the first year of this additional cash prize and it was awarded to Annabelle Himes, a freshman Business major whose start-up company called, Heroes and Tiaras, brings popular characters to life at parties and special events.
Proposals were due in February and presentations to a panel of judges were conducted via online video conference in April. The entries, submitted from a variety of majors at YSU were evaluated on numerous attributes including the feasibility of implementation, assessment of market conditions and demand, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. The 3-5 page proposal outlined the business idea and how the prize of $2,400 would be used to advance the business idea. Businesses did not have to exist in order to be considered
The idea for this prize goes back to when Patrick Burgan was just 10 years old and spoke to his father about a business idea he had to sell custom watches to commemorate an anniversary of an automotive vehicle he liked. John Burgan provided his son with $2,400 to start this business. This early vote of confidence and financial assistance helped Patrick start this first business venture, which sold out of the 100 watches he created. His father helped Patrick invest his profits and, at the age of 17, the investment and earnings were used to purchase Patrick's first house, which ignited his love of real estate, where he now is co-owner of the fastest growing real estate brand in the Mahoning Valley, a company his father started 44 years ago. The John Burgan Entrepreneurship Prize is awarded to the winner of the YSU Williamson College of Business Administration's Entrepreneurship Center Business Plan Competition, which seeks innovative business ideas from students.
ABOUT BURGAN REAL ESTATE
Burgan Real Estate has been a leader in the real estate industry in the Mahoning Valley for the past 43 years. By maintaining high standards of integrity, honesty, and transparency, Burgan has thrived and grown into one of the area's and region's most successful independent brokerages. As a second generation, locally owned business, Burgan Real Estate takes great pride in supporting the community it proudly calls "home." To see why life is Better with Burgan, visit www.burganrealestate.com or connect on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
15 years ago, the housing market crashed, causing a worldwide recession. While that history is in our not-so-distant past, many are correlating the same things we are seeing in our current market conditions as a reason to push the panic button. Above list price sales, new construction delays, and low-interest rates point towards a Hindenburg-type crash but listen to Patrick and just, "Relax." While today's market cannot sustain itself, a crash equivalent to 2006 is unlikely, and here's a few reasons to help you remove the paper bag from your face.
LACK OF LOOSEY GOOSEY LENDING STANDARDS
While money is cheap right now, lenders are not embracing the "anyone can get a loan" practices from 15 years ago. The practices that ultimately brought down banks and mortgage companies are not being leveraged in today's market. Standards for lending have been raised, just like home prices, making obtaining a mortgage more transparent and secure. Stricter income, credit, and asset checks make it real for not only the borrower but cushion the lender and the housing market with stricter regulations and processes in place.
COVID CARE PACKAGE FOR MORTGAGE PAYMENTS
One of the biggest issues with the housing market crash of 2007 was foreclosures, which increased housing supply across the board. Foreclosures during times when unemployment are high causes a crash in equity for homeowners because prices start to plummet. This was a real concern during the pandemic but forbearance plans helped mitigate this risk. The forgiveness or postponement of mortgage payments allowed people to avoid delinquencies, focusing on getting back to work and back to paying their home payments. The success of the forbearance plans has declined the number of mortgages that were 60-89 days past due by almost a full percentage point, much stronger than were it was during the recession 15 years ago.
RATES ARE GREAT…STILL
I wish I could say that I wasn't surprised by the sales boom that followed the pandemic. The real estate industry and Realtors® across the country were panicking more than people are doing now over a potential crash. However, sales soared as buyers took advantage of record-low interest rates. For over a year, I've been preaching to you about the opportunity to take advantage of interest rates and there is no sign it will change. Through 2020, rates remained the 3% line while home sales reached their highest level in 14 years. Low rates will still help people find the homes of their dreams at price they can afford.
While no one can predict the future, we can learn from our past. There will be an adjustment in the market but a crash, not so much. So listen to Patrick and, "Relax."
While most students get ready for a break from school for Spring Break, we never stop learning, no matter how many years we are out of organized school. We continually find ways to grow and improve, discovering new things about ourselves and our abilities that help us become better. For Colleen Richardson, she was one of those teachers who helped students find their potential but, after seeing an opportunity to become better herself, she decided to learn a new trade, becoming a licensed Realtor® and joining the Burgan Bunch as the newest residential real estate agent with Burgan Real Estate.
Richardson, a native of Youngstown, is a graduate of Youngstown Ursuline High School and Youngstown State University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in elementary school education. She went on to receive two Master's Degrees in Literacy and Educational Leadership from Walden University in Minnesota and University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, respectively. She was in the physical and virtual classroom teaching elementary students at St. Patrick's School and the Youngstown Community School here in the Valley before becoming an Advanced Learners' Coordinator at a Charter School in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. While she has spent her professional life teaching others, she learned that she had a passion for something outside of the classroom. She decided, along with her 5 children, to move back to Youngstown to pursue a career in real estate with Burgan Real Estate.
"To be a success in real estate, one must be willing to continually learn about a variety of elements that impact the client's needs or wishes," said Patrick Burgan, co-owner, and Broker of Burgan Real Estate. "Colleen Richardson has spent a career in education and understanding the best way to learn new information and apply it into practice with her students. Her drive and ability to put together a curriculum is no different than putting together a plan to help her clients find a better life and home with her help here in the Mahoning Valley. We are excited for her to join our Burgan Bunch."
While she is looking forward to getting started in her new career, Colleen finds time to relax with her kids and two dogs. She also has a passion for reading and technology, finding ways to use digital advancements to simplify life and learning. Her desire to stay in education to make a positive impact on students is one of the main reasons she is proud to serve on the PTO of South Range schools as a member and an Officer.
"I have always been committed to the power of education and the impact it has on people developing and making good decisions," says Richardson. "Making the switch to a career in real estate provides me the opportunity to not only learn something new but also to educate people on safely guiding them on their journey to find a better home with my help and the help of the rest of the Burgan Bunch."
We have not doubt, Colleen, you will have plenty to teach us about being better now that you are a part of the Burgan Bunch. Welcome to Burgan Real Estate, Colleen!