Wednesday, December 28, 2011

CareerBuilders Report Says More Jobs

I know I harped on this before and posted a link to this blog on Facebook, but here again, it would appear that there will be improvement on the job front. Particularly in the western part of the US.

That's the article I read on Housing Wire this morning. Simple information, big results. Let's face it, the more people making more money the more our economy can work towards a recovery. And, as I'm a Realtor, that means more people can keep their homes, hopefully, or buy new ones.

It's a good thing people, see the positive, don't waste your energy on the negative. 

We're getting through this block wall and moving toward something that will make life head back to normalcy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Want To Buy A Foreclosure At Auction You Say??

I've had several clients attempt to buy a house at auction. It's a scary thing I hear. You have to have lots of cash. You're bidding against other people who have done this many times. You can't inspect the properties. You may have a cloud on Title when it closes.

Sounds like many scary things to me!

But, a few things to help you if you consider this route courtesy of House Logic:

Solutions to 6 common foreclosure auction challenges

1. Challenge: Getting reliable information about foreclosure sales. Many companies charge fees to send you lists of foreclosures that may not be current, or sell expensive foreclosure-buying “systems” that promise to teach you how to make millions in real estate.

Solution: Most foreclosure sales are still announced in local newspapers. And you can get accurate information about buying foreclosures from reliable book publishers:

2. Challenge: You can’t get inside the property before the auction to inspect it for structural problems and repairs. Many foreclosure auction properties are in bad shape because the owners couldn’t afford the upkeep. And sometimes angry home owners purposely damage the property to punish the foreclosing lender.

Solution: Walk around the home to check its exterior condition. If it’s vacant, look through the windows. Ask the neighbors what they know about the property. If it was a rental, check the inspection records on file with the local government.
    You can safely assume there’s something wrong with any house sold at a foreclosure auction, so cover yourself by bidding no more than 70% of the home’s market value.

    3. Challenge: You need to figure out the market value of the house to prepare your bid. Some foreclosure auction announcements include information about the size of the original mortgage. That’s not how much the house is worth or even what the owners owe now. If the current owners bought at the top of the market, their mortgage may be more than the home is worth in today’s market and they could owe even more if there’s a second mortgage on the house.

    Solution: Commission your real estate agent to do a broker’s price opinion (BPO) on the home you want to bid on. The BPO will show you comparable sales, telling you what similar, nearby homes that weren’t foreclosure sales have recently sold for.
      Bid well below those comparable sales to leave yourself room to pay for repairs and unexpected problems. Ask the agency that runs the auction how to find winning bid amounts from recent auctions. Use that information to guide your current bid, too. A look at local tax and assessment records will tell you more about previous and current auction properties, like square footage and lot size.

      4. Challenge: You don’t know if there are liens on the home. Some auctions don’t give you clean title to the property, meaning liens from the federal government or other entities may not be removed during the foreclosure auction process. You’d have to pay off those liens if you won the property. 

      Solution: Focus your efforts on two or three homes in desirable locations. To find out about any liens, pay a real estate attorney to run a title search on each property and issue a commitment to insure the title after purchase. Ask how the policy treats liens filed between the time of the search and the time you close.
        A less-expensive option: Hire an independent title search professional called an abstracter or an online company. Both search options should be under $200, title insurance costs vary by state.

        5. Challenge: You have to pay cash and pay it quickly. Most auctions require bidders to come up with the full purchase price in cash within 30 days.

        Solution: Don’t count on getting a mortgage that fast. Look for other sources of cash that make financial sense for you.
        • Tap retirement accounts, provided it makes sense for you from a tax perspective.
        • Work with other investors to fund a partnership to invest in foreclosed homes.

        6. Challenge: You’re in love with a house that you’re aware is headed to foreclosure, but you’re afraid to bid on it at the foreclosure auction because you know nothing about the process.

        Solution #1: Contact the owners and offer to purchase the home as a short sale. That’s where the bank agrees to let the owners sell for less than what they owe on the mortgage.
        Solution #2: You may be able to buy the house after the foreclosure sale. Foreclosure sales are run by a government agency (often the sheriff), which collects the money from the highest bidder and gives it to the bank to pay off the mortgage.

        Monday, December 19, 2011

        ~ Mortgage Rate Information ~

        Record Low Rates Continue BUT!! Govt Looking to Increase Fannie/Freddie Fees! Apply Now
        Mortgage Rates start the week nice and low!

        *Congress/Senate Budget Deal includes Fannie Mae fee hike! :)

        *These fee hikes are expected to cost average borrower $17 per month.

        Equal Housing Lender. Licensed by California Dept. of Real Estate.
        Mortgage Interest Rates*
        Rates as of Monday, 19th December, 2011:
         TermConformingAPRPayment per
        JumboAPRPayment per
        30-Yr. fixed3603.875%4.19%$4.704.25%4.44%$4.92
        15-Yr. fixed1803.25%3.59%$7.033.75%4.02%$7.27
        7-Yr. fixed ARM3603.25%3.51%$4.353.875%3.61%$4.70
        5-Yr. fixed ARM3602.875%3.59%$4.153.25%3.66%$4.35
        VA 30 Fixed3604.0%4.31%$4.774.5%4.79%$5.07
        FHA 30 Fixed3604.0%5.19%$4.774.5%5.47%$5.07
        20 yr fixed rate 417,0002403.75%4.21%$5.934.625%4.98%$6.39
        10 yr fixed rate 417,0001203.25%3.61%$9.774%4.54%$10.12

        Saturday, December 17, 2011

        Poop or Get off the Pot ~ AKA, Do You Really Want To Buy A Home?

        Not to often I get a buyer in my car, write an offer, get it accepted, and the buyer changes his mind. Some I would say are due to buyers remorse. Jumping in too quickly. Something better comes up the next day. Things like that.

        Then you get a buyer that you wonder if their motivation is really there. Are they happy renting, lining the landlords pockets? Or, are they really desiring home ownership?

        I make sure they are qualified. I make sure they see everything possible in their price range. I make sure I educate them on the HOA fees, Mello-Roos taxes. Everything that may tack on their monthly housing expense. I ASK them to make their list of wants/needs/wishes.....sometimes I get it too late, or it needs major adjusting. 

        I can't control their dreams though. That's the hardest part. And, softly popping the dream bubble is the hardest thing I have to do. But, we gotta do it now and again. 

        That beautiful 3 + 2 priced at 175 when it should be 245? Really, don't count on it. That lovely house that should be 650 and is listed at 580?  Standard Sale....hmmm.....too good to be true, maybe?  Or, as another article I read today reminds me....the one that seems right on, pictures look great....but we can't get in to view? Don't hold your breath.

        Keep moving forward.  Some clients have tight parameters and I value them. They understand that we can find something that fits and is in their price range, just we have to be patient. But, the ones that think they should get champagne home on light beer budget? Not gonna happen. 

        So, it is, unfortunately, my job to burst that champagne bubble and pour the best light beer I can find.....that they can afford. Or, I have to ~ and quickly ~ determine if they really, truly, want to buy a home or keep getting the renters credit on their tax return.

        Friday, December 9, 2011

        2012 and 2013 Just May Bring More REO Inventory

        So, we're happy that Hope Now has been able to get a million loan mods done. We're happy that the jobless rate is decreasing. We're happy that the interest rates are still ridiculously low....


        "There is also a potential risk that banks tighten lending standards even further if the European debt crisis deepens," JPMorgan Securities analysts said. "While housing inventory dipped further, there is evidence that this temporary downward trend is about to change direction. Liquidations are expected to pick-up next year and peak in 2013."

        I take the bad with the good, but I focus on the good! And, I've been saying for quite some time that until we get through all the REO's (bank owned properties) we won't start to see any appreciation in home values. So, if the Chase analyst is anywhere near correct, that could really help get some values moving in an upward trend.

        I'm thinking we are close to the bottom people.

        Wednesday, December 7, 2011

        Are We Recovering? Not Quite Yet ~ But I Read The Signs!

        Two articles read this afternoon state that jobless rates are improving, mortgage delinquencies are reducing, and that although we may not be in a recovery, not yet, that we are certainly ending the 'recession'.

        I've been working on keeping my glass 1/2 full, rather than 1/2 empty for the last few years. These economic woes have affected everyone. And, my clients and family have been more positive than negative for certain. You'd almost have to be, right? At least make a valiant effort!

        "California may finally have turned the corner into recovery, with the job market slated for slow but steady growth over the next two years, according to a report released today by UCLA's Anderson Forecast."

        "Mortgage delinquency rates — the ratio of borrowers 60 or more days behind on their payments — will likely tick up to about 6 percent through the first three months of 2012, TransUnion said in its annual delinquency forecast issued Wednesday.~ But by the end of next year, it could drop to 5 percent, TransUnion said. That's well off the peak of 6.89 percent seen in the fourth quarter of 2009."

        These are good notes from the two reads of today. Baby steps. Considering houses are still selling, many people still have jobs, and goodness, our health? Consider, it could be a lot worse....and we aren't standing in bread lines.

        Monday, December 5, 2011

        Current Mortgage Rates

        Mortgage Interest Rates*
        Rates as of Monday, 5th December, 2011:
         TermConformingAPRPayment per
        JumboAPRPayment per
        30-Yr. fixed3604.125%4.35%$4.854.375%4.59%$4.99
        15-Yr. fixed1803.5%3.79%$7.153.875%4.19%$7.33
        7-Yr. fixed ARM3603.25%3.51%$4.353.875%3.61%$4.70
        5-Yr. fixed ARM3602.875%3.59%$4.153.25%3.66%$4.35
        VA 30 Fixed3604.25%4.51%$4.924.5%4.79%$5.07
        FHA 30 Fixed3604.25%5.19%$4.924.5%5.47%$5.07
        20 yr fixed rate 417,0002403.75%4.21%$5.934.625%4.98%$6.39
        10 yr fixed rate 417,0001203.25%3.61%$9.774%4.54%$10.12

        Saturday, December 3, 2011

        Investors Buying More Than Owner Occupied

        Not sure exactly how I feel about it, but it's not a surprise that investors are increasing in the number of homes purchased over people that buy to live in them.

        I feel that too many people are still mildly afraid about buying a home right now. Afraid of values, volatility, security. All good things. But, when the investor is picking up the majority of homes, that should certainly be telling the skittish 'would-be owner-occupied' buyers that they should go ahead and buy too!

        The article that prompted it says one really good thing, well what I thought was important.

        "Nonprofits and trade groups are stressing the importance of documenting any partnership with an investor to make sure these neighborhoods are maintained and begin recovery after the REO is sold. Most want documentation to ensure investors with poor management histories do not have access to bulk transactions."

        So, if investors are buying, and we're trying to make sure they care about neighborhoods, I suppose that is better than just letting properties sit vacant. But, I'd certainly rather see home owners buying and enjoying the rewards of home ownership instead.

        Monday, November 28, 2011

        I Keep Telling Everyone ~ Now Is The Time To Buy!

        Okay, maybe I'm harping on you all. Maybe you still think the market is going to drop...maybe it will.


        And, I'm not the only one saying's an article with a video link too!

        If you want to go back and find my mathematical example, have at it. The interest rates are low, prices are low, what more do you want?

        Friday, November 25, 2011

        When Someone Dies, Wonder What Happens To Their Home Loan?

        I just closed a Short-Sale for a newly widowed seller. It was an obvious situation. The spouse passes away, the survivor can't pay the mortgage. Instead of having a foreclosure on record, we maneuvered a settlement via Short-Sale.

        But, what happens if your elderly father dies? And, you're supposed to get the home? And, what if there is a loan against the property?

        "Under federal law, the mortgage must be allowed to remain in effect without changes when it passes from one person to another because of a death. This negates any due-on-sale clause in the mortgage."

        Now, that's good to know, right? Yes. But, if you can't pay, or there are other people involved? There could be many considerations about what to do. It's good to know that the mortgage stays the same. However, you may need to consider foreclosure, Short-Sale, paying off heirs, etc.

        This link shares the whole article that prompted my little post this morning:

        I would definitely like to remind my readers that if you have an elderly parent, it is wise to make sure there is some idea ahead of time about what would happen should that parent die with a loan outstanding. And, advise you to consider it could happen at any time....sooner than you'd expect.

        Wednesday, November 23, 2011

        Pre-Turkey Day Stats for Santa Clarita Valley

        Same old news posting around so I decided to share the latest stats just before the Thanksgiving holiday....I suppose it's to remind everyone that we do have some things to be thankful for.

        ACTIVE LISTINGS ~1143
        REO's ~ 160
        SHORT-SALES ~ 510
        Everything Else ~ 473

        IN ESCROW ~ 787
        (I include Pending and Taking Back-Up Offers here)
        REO's ~ 160 (weird, huh)
        SHORT-SALES ~ 497
        Everything Else, again ~ 130

        CLOSED IN LAST 30 DAYS ~ 295
        REO's ~ 83
        SHORT-SALES ~ 102
        And, one more time...Everything Else ~ 110

        So, I am again thankful that homes are still selling. I did finally have a buyer denied a loan in this market. Not my buyer, of course!

        HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Enjoy what you have!

        Thursday, November 17, 2011

        How To Figure Out Your Homes' Value Using The Internet?

        Hubby is out working, I just finished a delicious dinner salad. Opened a new escrow today, still waiting to hear back on another offer out. Closing a listing escrow Tuesday. So, obviously, settling in for the evening. Thought I'd peek around and see what's interesting in the news, etc.

        Came across an article that is so right on. "How To Figure The Fuzzy Math Of Internet Home Values". There are several websites that give Zuestimates on a home value. Some sellers like to start here before they talk with a Realtor about possibly selling their home. I say, right on, again! I want my clients to have as much information as possible about what they think their home is worth before I even walk in the door!

        But, I want them to get it from a reliable source.....(yes, that would be me).....before they make a firm decision.

        Zillow,, Trulia...and several more will certainly assist a seller in determining an approximate value, but they have self-admittedly found numerous errors in their calculations. I'm glad they admit them.

        Now, they have gotten much better, trust me. I used to hate going into a home that the seller met me with "Zillow says my house is worth xyz!" When xyz was significantly higher, or lower, than my knowledge presented.

        And,, they were weeks behind. They are better too!

        All of them are getting better....but, they are not perfect. And, neither is any Realtor that says they are. We can show our stats of list price ratios to sale price. We can show the market as it stands now, and 3 months ago. We can suggest, based upon our experience, where we think the market is going to be in 3 months. We can tell you what our marketing plan is. And, because we are the ones that are pounding the streets, seeing the inventory, working the escrows....we know significantly more than a computer algorithm.

        Enjoy the full article:

        Monday, November 14, 2011

        When the House-Hunt is Taking too Long

        I'm one of the most patient Real Estate agents I know. I work hard to try and keep my buyers patient about the home buying process as well.

        Sometimes there just doesn't appear to be a home out there for them. Sometimes they think they should write an offer on something that really doesn't suit their needs.

        A great article for those of you that think it's taking just waaay tooo long:

        These 5 items noted are good, appropriate and justified.

        But, sometimes, the right house just doesn't come along at the right time ~ therein lies the need for patience.

        After all, it is a Virtue!

        Wednesday, November 9, 2011

        Don't Worry ~ You're Probably One of The Many!

        The Internal Revenue Service is still struggling with the tax credits that helped boost the housing market a few years ago. And, the article I read today made me giggle.

        Why anyone, IRS included, would put together a program without considering all the T-crossing and I-dotting required is beyond me.

        Now, they are asking people for money that don't owe it. And, not asking people for money that do. Had to hire an outside agency ~ more money wasted ~ to try to figure out if people still lived where they were supposed to, if they owe it or don't. Yikes!

        But far more commonplace, according to auditors, were shortcomings by the IRS in distinguishing between taxpayers who were supposed to repay their credits over a 15-year period — as required under the original $7,500 program in 2008 — and people for whom there was no such requirement under later versions of the program allowing credits up to $8,000.

        So, you know who you are and you know what you owe. Don't fret if you get the wrong notice from the IRS, a lot more tax-payers are too!

        Friday, November 4, 2011

        Triggers of Lender Scrutiny ~ A Refresher Course

        I know I've touched on this before, but it bears repeating, repeating, dare I say it .... repeating. 

        I read this article in the NY times this morning. Feel free to read the whole thing via the link below:

        At any rate, people are talking about how hard it is to get a loan these days. Only until this month did I have someone denied for a loan that I was working with. Not one of my buyers, one that was purchasing a listing of mine. Regardless, it happened. And, it happened because the paper trail that needed to be followed just got narrower and narrower. So minute, that the lender couldn't follow it any more. So, poof, he was gone. No worries, we got another buyer in 48 hours!

        So, really, just stick to the basics. Don't do something fraudulent, or even attempt something round to fit in a square hole. It's not going to work these days.

        Loans of today are far different than loans of years gone by. And, when it comes down to that last few days of escrow and the damn lender is asking for things you feel are redundant and downright stupid? Just do it, send them what they ask for. 

        You won't get your house if you don't! 

        Monday, October 31, 2011

        Home Price Depends On Interest Rate, Yes?

        I just read another doom and gloom article. It, of course, depends on the hour, the day, the author, the locale, and to whether I read a doom and gloom or something more upbeat about Real Estate.

        Earlier in the day I received an update about Interest Rates on mortgage loans.

        So, I did a few calculations that I am going to jot down, share, and summarize.

        For simplicity, let's use round numbers and a conforming conventional loan ~

        Home price $350,000
        Current rates 4.00%
        20% down payment.
        Monthly payment = $1336.70
        Finance charges over the 30 year loan life = $201,235.49
        Total cost of home = $551,235.49

        Next example ~ let's say with a 10% drop in value that some say may still happen.....

        Home price $315,000
        Future interest rates 5.00% (that's a guess, as of course, we have no idea!)
        20% down payment.
        Monthly payment = $1352.79
        Finance charges over the 30 year loan life = $235,004.67
        Total cost of home = $550,004.67

        And another example ~ with a total of 50k drop.....eeeck!

        Home price $300,000
        Again guestimating a future interest rate 6.00%
        20% down payment.
        Monthly payment = $1438.92
        Finance charges over the 30 year loan life = $278,012.58
        Total cost of home = $578,012.58

        I don't think I have to summarize this that thoroughly ~ I believe it shows you how much you save on a home price can frequently be eaten up on the interest rate you are paying. I've been involved in Real Estate for over 30 years, as a Realtor for over 10....I've never seen rates where they are right now for a 30 year fixed mortgage...never. And, I do believe that will go up more likely than going down much further.

        You can do the math, as they say....and do I even need to mention the tax benefits of home ownership?

        Friday, October 28, 2011

        Video of You? And, Maybe Win a $500 Lowe's Gift Card!

        I received this via e-mail this morning and wanted to share with my peeps!


        October 28, 2011

        Dear Lauren,

        In August, we had the pleasure of announcing C.A.R.’s brand-new 2011 consumer advertising campaign, “California REALTORS®. Champions of Home.” It’s been airing on cable, TV, radio, and online. Today, I’m thrilled to kick-off the campaign’s social media effort, C.A.R.’s first-ever Facebook contest, called “Stories of Home.” This contest features a new app built specifically for this campaign, one which enables consumers to automatically and easily record evidence of their testimony about “home,” and the value of home ownership and of working with their REALTOR®.

        Now through Nov. 30, 2011California home buyers and sellers with a Facebook account can either submit a video to compete for a $500 Lowe’s gift card, or simply vote for their favorite videos. Building on the effectiveness of the commercials in which California home buyers and sellers talk about the invaluable qualities of using a REALTOR®, the Facebook contest helps to extend this message into the social media realm and offers satisfied home buyers and sellers a place to sound off about their own positive experience.

        To participate, consumers simply visit C.A.R.’s Facebook page and “like” the page. Selecting “Stories of Home” from the left menu provides prompts to either record a video on the spot or upload a previously recorded video. Additionally, visitors to the Stories of Home page may view other videos and vote for their favorites.

        This is a terrific opportunity for you to tell your clients to be a part of this exciting contest and have a chance to win a $500 Lowe’s gift card.

        For complete information about the 2011 consumer advertising campaign, please visit here.  I hope you are as pleased with this campaign as we all are in bringing it to you.

        Beth L. Peerce
        2011 President

        Isn't that nice???

        Monday, October 24, 2011

        Awesome News ! ~ HARP Refinance Program Expanded

        This is a really good thing. I just had a homeowner ask me about this over the weekend. It's giving us a better LTV ratio and helping with a few other things. Also extending til end of 2013!!

        HARP Refinance Program Expanded

        Borrowers who are current on their home loans may be able to refinance for lower interest rates, even if they are seriously upside down.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today that it will broaden the scope of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) by removing the current 125 percent loan-to-value cap for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Other program enhancements include, among other things, reducing certain fees, eliminating the need for a new property appraisal if the FHFA has a reliable automated valuation model (AVM) estimate, and extending HARP until the end of 2013.  New federal guidelines for the HARP changes should be released to mortgage lenders and servicers by November 15.

        The basic eligibility requirements for an enhanced HARP loan are as follows:
        • Existing mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  To check whether a borrower has a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, go to
        • Existing mortgage loan must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009.
        • Existing mortgage loan cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously (except for Fannie Mae loans refinanced between March and May 2009).
        • Current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80%.
        • Existing mortgage loan must be current, with no late payments in the past six months, and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.
        More information is available from FHFA at