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How Much is *Too* Much Information?



Money and House on a ScaleIn the current environment, a lot of us start to do cartwheels when an offer comes in on one of our listings.  Wooooo! Hoooo!

Let’s do it!

Yet, we are duty bound to protect the interests of our clients, The Sellers, and we do want to make sure the deal gets all the way to the finish line.  So, we ask for some proof of the financial ability of The Buyers to complete the purchase.  Pretty reasonable, don’t you think?  But, how much information is too much information and what about the confidentiality that the buyer’s agent is duty bound to protect?

Is There Such A Thing As TMI?

We all know that most lender letters are pretty much worthless.  Sure.  There are good, reputable and honest lenders who have done a lot of the work necessary to really qualify a buyer for a mortgage.  The two of you can go to the next post.

However, I’m not sure the listing agent has either the right or the need to request detailed financial statements showing occupation, income, assets and liabilities. So, I’m wondering how listing agents determine whether Buyer A is a safe bet.  Yeah.  I know, in the good ol’ days these detailed Financial Information sheets were de rigeur because people didn’t go to a mortgage professional prior to writing an offer.  It was truly up to the listing agent to determine if the buyer had a shot at covering the nut.

Things have changed.

Most listing agents I encounter don’t consider a written offer an “offer” if it doesn’t have the requisite “pre-approval” letter (in quotes).  Ditto the photocopy of a check written for an earnest money deposit.  Forget that the lender letter may have been a fill-in-the-blank form or that the photocopy of a check is an optical illusion.  It’s now part of the routine. Yet, some will still stomp their feet and require this detailed financial disclosure form.  Is that crossing the line?

Do I really want to let the Seller know my clients have a million dollars in their retirement IRA if they have no plans to use it for the purchase?  Does it matter that the buyer has just been on the job 3 months as the store manager at Best Buy or 3 months on the job as Under Secretary of State for International Development?

I realize the examples are pretty extreme but my point is that some information may be irrelevant to determining whether or not a buyer has the financial ability to make the purchase and the buyer has a reasonable expectation that their financial life will not be laid bare just to satisfy the whim of a listing agent or Seller.

So.  Is there such a thing as too much information?

“Loves sunrise walks on the beach, quaint B & Bs, former Barbie® boyfriend..." Ken is a sole practitioner and Realtor Extraordinaire in the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC. When he's not spouting off on Agent Genius he holds court from his home office in Glenn Dale, MD or the office for RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, MD...and always on the MD Suburbs of DC Blog

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  1. Doug Francis

    November 10, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I think a “reasonable” amount of information can include a little background, but unleashing social security numbers and birth dates is exactly what “Equifax” recommends you don’t do. If an agent requires a 1987 version of a Financial Disclosure Statement, then submit the offer without it but with the documentation you mentioned above (currently acceptable practice in your area), and if they refuse then contact their broker… or your broker.

    REALTORS have a duty to present any and all offers to their clients and an agent drawing a line in the sand like this is grounds (in my opinion) for a formal complaint.

    • Ken Montville

      November 10, 2010 at 9:55 am

      Luckily, the Financial Info form we deal with was revised in ’09 and eliminated the spot for Social Security numbers. Still, it discloses a ton of information about the buyer’s financial condition that may actually hurt negotiations. How many sellers, realizing the buyer “has money” may actually harden their position on price or closing help when offering some concessions would help sell the house (the ostensible objective).

  2. Sheila Rasak

    November 10, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Great points made in your recent blog! As a listing agent who works a lot of hardship cases here in California, I want to know that a buyer can perform. The only other piece of information I require to submit an offer to the bank in a short sale situation is proof of funds. The seller never sees this part of the transaction. My clients know that part of my job is validating the buyer so that their lender is comfortable with the offers we’ve received.

    • Ken Montville

      November 10, 2010 at 9:57 am

      That sounds like a nice process. I work mostly with real estate where the Seller has some equity and they’re the ones making the decision on accepting an offer. Some will accept the lender pre-approval letter. Some agents have been burned one time too many, I guess, with buyers who can’t really get the mortgage.

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Economic News

Boomers retirement may be the true reason behind the labor shortage

(ECONOMY) Millennials and Gen Z were quick to be blamed for the labor shortage, citing lazy work ethic- the cause could actually be Boomers retirement.



Older man pictured in cafe with laptop nearby representing boomers retirement discrimination.

In July, we reported on the Great Resignation. With record numbers of resignations, there’s a huge labor shortage in the United States. Although there were many speculations about the reasons why, from “lazy” millennials to the number of deaths from Covid. Just recently, CNN reported that in November another 3.6 million Americans left the labor force. It’s been suggested that the younger generations don’t want to work but retiring Boomers might be the bigger culprit.

Why Boomers are leaving the labor force

CNN Business reports that 90% of the Americans who left the workplace were over 55 years old. It’s now being suggested that many of the people who have left the labor force since the beginning of the pandemic were older Americans, not Millennials or Gen Z, as we originally thought. Here are the reasons why:

  • Boomers are more concerned about catching COVID-19 than their younger counterparts, so they aren’t returning to work. Boomers are less willing to risk their health.
  • The robust real estate market has benefitted Boomers, who have more equity in their homes. Boomers have more options on the table than just returning to work.
  • Employers aren’t creating or posting jobs that lure people out of retirement or those near retirement age.

As Boomers retire, how does this impact the overall labor economy?

According to CNN Business, there are signs that the labor shortage is abating. Employers are starting to see record number of applicants to most posted jobs. FedEx, for example, just got 111,000 applications in one week, the highest it has ever recorded. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the pandemic-induced increase in retirement is only temporary. People who retired due to the risk of the pandemic will return to work as new strategies emerge to reduce the risk to their health. With new varients popping up, we will have to keep an eye on how the trend ultimately plays out.

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?



NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<


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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.



young executives

job openings

Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.


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