Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Little Tid-Bit of Sunlight !

I finished my prospecting late today and am reading articles just now at almost 2 in the afternoon! But, it was worth catching it a little late as it will carry us to a happier spot for a smidgen!

It was on Housing Wire. A short little post. Teeny little segment that states delinquencies in the first quarter are improving. Just a slight improvement, but still, I'm taking it.

You can read it quickly yourself  :

Interesting that they predict a slight increase in delinquencies for construction loans though. Well, why people would consider building new homes right now is beyond me anyways. But, I suppose if they could get it built in less time than it takes to consummate a short sale, then maybe it is a good idea.

Regardless, a shimmer of light at the end of this week.

Let's relish it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rent Vs. Buy - Are People Really Changing Their Minds About The Value of Home Ownership?

A lot of articles are saying that the American public is starting to shift away from the theory of owning a home being one of the best things ever. At least that's what many are saying.

Me? I still believe that true home ownership has incredible value. Not as an investment like stocks, bonds and gold though. Only play the housing market if you have a lot of cash to gamble with. Rewards of true home ownership come from the long-term. The love of your home, the tax write-offs, the credit health of keeping your mortgage current.

Those are all pluses. There are many more.

I was prompted on the subject of this post by an article I read this morning on About strategic defaults. People that are current on all of their other financial obligations and are just deciding to default on their mortgage because it's not worth it anymore.

Not going to kid you....I despise this concept. Absolutely and completely. And, so do the lending institutions. They are going to try to determine, by a new technology tool, which people are more likely to default strategically than others.

While it won't help the current situation, it will help eliminate it in the future. We always learn from our mistakes.

Back to Rent Vs. Buy. My personal example here:

Sold back in 2006 my prior residence for 670,000. Now, those homes are selling for about 400,000. Bought my beautiful home, the first all by myself, for 610,000 right then and there. Now, it's worth about 375,000. Sheesh! Yes, I know, it stinks. But, many people are in this same boat.

Can I still pay my mortgage? Absolutely. Do I still love my home? You bet. What about the lost value? Shit happens!

But, in reality, do the math and it works out pretty equal in my eyes.

I would have paid about 36,000 year in rent, right? That's 180,000 over the last 5 years. Wow, that's a lot of money going into someone else's pocket. But, you say, that's still a huge loss in value on my current home. Well, take the 180 from the 610 and we have 430. So, I'm still 'upside' down by about 55k? Ah well, I've been writing off the interest and property taxes for the last 5 years too. And the Uncle Sam tax rate I pay is minuscule in part, large part, because of that. Truly teeny-weeny!

End of story. End of my story at least. I still believe that owning a home is far better than renting. I believe that what goes around comes around too. I borrowed money from someone, I can pay it back....I'm going to enjoy my home and pay back my debt. I'm soooo not hip on Strategic Defaulting. I'm still totally hip on Home Ownership!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Today's Real Estate Market: a 'Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity'

Greg Rand, a 20-year real estate veteran and CEO of OwnAmerica, says now is the time to invest in real estate.
Rand compares the current market to the years following the Great Depression when market conditions sparked a boom that sustained 65 years of appreciation in real estate.
“This economic crisis, while similar to the Great Depression, is also unique in the way that the housing market played a central role,” Rand said. “It is true that this is a once-in-a-generation crisis. It is also true that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It’s time to focus on the other side of the coin.”

According to Rand, a little optimism can go a long way toward spurring real estate back to life.
“There is a very real economic force called irrational pessimism that is the cause of much economic hardship, not the effect,” he said.

“More people are unemployed because successful businesses are afraid to expand. More people are losing homes they can afford because they are underwater and believe their home will never appreciate again. People with job security are convinced they don’t have it and live in fear,” Rand explained.

He insists, “Irrational pessimism is one reason why today’s situation runs so parallel to the Great Depression.”
Rand contends there is no housing meltdown. Rather, there was a media and Wall Street meltdown centered on a predictable housing correction.

The real estate market changes hourly, he says, and investing in real estate is a matter of watching the trends.
“It comes down to the idea that no matter how the markets change, no matter which way the winds shift, people will always need a place to live,” Rand said. “That’s been true of America since the first log cabin.

“If you plug into that concept and leave fear in a box on the shelf, you can be ahead of the curve and ride the wave of the trends that matter,” according to Rand.

OwnAmerica is a Web-based resource for real estate investors and investment advisors headquartered in New York.

Rand is also on WABC Radio, a regular commentator on the Fox Business network, a columnist for Real Estate magazine, and author of the book “Crash-Boom” from Career Press.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Banks Making Money

I've been reading, what else is new, the headlines again this week. Every day I've seen that one big bank after another has a profit in this first quarter. Of course, not in their mortgage department I would presume. But, some profit is better than none.

I'm guessing some if it is from the increase in credit rates to consumers. Not mortgage rates, they are still nice and low. But, most people have seen a huge jump in their credit card interest rates. They say that it has something to do with amounts being charged off. Written off losses. That kind of thing. So, is it a false gain?

I'm not sure really how I feel about this. Is it good that the banks are showing a profit? Is it bad that we're paying for their screw-ups? At this point, I'm happy that the financial industry isn't underwater completely like so many homeowners.But, I'm just uncomfortable that the big banks are showing profit and the little common people are seemingly barely scraping by.

But, I am glad, really glad, that the amount of 'good' loans are improving.

We always learn....sooner than later I wish. But, we always learn from our mistakes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What do YOU want to know?

I spend time researching and reading and writing. I spend time looking for listings for my buyers and buyers for my listings. I negotiate, educate and protect.

It's who I am and what I do.

Anyone that has read a blog post or two of mine can tell that I'm the genuine article. That I tell it like I see it and I don't hold back.

I believe that is the way it should be. I believe that honesty, to a fault sometimes, is the best. And, I believe that my client knows the absolute best for their family and that I am just a conduit to help them obtain their goal.

And....I like it like that.

But, I would like to know sometimes what they aren't telling me. I listen, I probe...but some people certainly are not as bold as I.

So, you who read this. You that know me. Or you that want to get to know me.

What do YOU want to know about me and what I do?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Commercial RE Rebounding

Our Realtor magazine had a refreshing piece of good news about Commercial Real Estate today. Says it is coming back.  People are buying buildings. California is not noted yet. But, loans are being paid.

It will be nice when we see this rebound happening here in California, and in Santa Clarita for certain. Right now, and I'm sure you see it too, there are a lot of vacancies in our commercial sites.  

But, if Commercial RE comes back, and people are moving money around, that is good news ultimately for Residential RE in my eyes too!

So, crossing my fingers for this continued rebound making it to our Awesome Town!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Loan Mod and the Foreclosure Proceedings

Many consumers are attempting a loan modification to keep their home. They are having the same challenges Realtors were having in working with the banks on Short-Sales (SS).

One hand not necessarily knowing what the other is doing.

We Realtors have dealt with this many times, so in the last few years we learned very quickly that we, not the SS bank, had to keep track of what the foreclosure department was doing while we were navigating a SS for our clients.

This morning in the LA Times Real Estate section was a very good article about homeowners struggles with loan mods. Thinking they had stalled the foreclosure only to find them foreclosed upon when they had submitted their package two or three times and were waiting for another contact from the bank telling them they were missing yet another document.

If one person reads this article, then one more person I have helped to stay in their home. It's a good article. Not necessarily a life saver, but remember that when you are attempting your one and only loan modification to save your home, us working Realtors have dealt with this over and over again.

Keep track of what is happening in all departments of your lender. Make sure that the Loan Modification department is getting what they need, no matter how frustrating. Always call them, don't wait for them to call you, to verify receipt. And, ALWAYS, keep track of what is happening in the Foreclosure department. 

Nothing could be worse than to get foreclosed on the same day you receive notice that you have been approved for the loan modification that saved your home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Kind of Law? Real Estate They Said

I spent some time with one of my husbands new clients this week. He had done a really big job for them and the very next day they needed some additional help. When I take a few hours of free time, I also like to spend it with him. I know, we are still Newlyweds! I had heard that it was in an attorney's office. I go in there all quiet like and chat up the receptionist just because I like to chat, right? So, I ask 'What kind of law do you practice here?' I'm told, Real Estate law. Hmmm......what do you mean?

I proceed to find out they they are the lawyers that are helping people sue their banks. You know, those same people that committed fraud on their loan documents? THOSE PEOPLE!!!

Now, I did not jump to complete conclusion, trust me. I asked a few questions further. Suing banks you say? Yes, for people that can't get loan mods, or short-sales, or that didn't read the fine print on their loan application.

Now, I'm sure that there are definitely a lot of the public that do really need some legal assistance. But, these guys? Ambulance chasers. Needless to say, they are new in the business, just opened bigger offices. And, a few years from now....where will they be? Looking for some other type of Ambulance to chase.

Ugh! Okay, nuff said!

Monday, April 11, 2011

How Long Does It Take To Close A Short Sale You Ask?

Finished up with clients and personal stuff for the day. Spent the last few minutes looking at the stats and thought is was time to share again.

As of this posting in our lovely Santa Clarita Valley we have 1222 active properties available for sale. Yes, that includes Single Family Dwellings, Condos and Townhouses. From Acton to Stevenson Ranch and Newhall in the south up to Castaic in the north.

Of those, and I make no guarantees regarding the listing agent input in our MLS, 539 are Short-Sales, or in some point of Pre-Foreclosure. 151 are REO's, Real Estate Owned by banks or investors. Presuming the remaining are standard sellers. Sounds pretty familiar doesn't it? Yes, about 60% is still bank involved.

We have 831 properties under contract, 831! Meaning a buyer and seller have come to negotiated terms of purchase. Of course....there are seller and buyer contingencies. Right now, the most common being the approval of terms by the Short-Sale lender. So, it makes sense that 491 of those are SS, and only 147 are of the REO type.

Wonder what the number of properties that sold in the month of March, 2011 was? 275. Yep, 275. That would mean we have about four and a half month inventory. That's nice. Of those 275, 77 were REO's and 94 were SS's. Hmmm.......what's that mean?

Well, this is the proof in the pudding. The DOM, Days On Market is important here. The average was 156 days on market. An average of just over 5 months to close a purchase on a SS. The longest was 557. Sheesh. I've avoided that but by the grace of god as they say!

So, while yet again, we would consider this to be a healthy inventory market. And, only 123 properties were taken off the market in that month of March. It still requires dedication and patience to make a house a home in 2011.

But, some of us are doing it And, with interest rates still low, it's best to keep that patience and hold onto that dedication. You will have a home......but I certainly can't say sooner than later at this point in history.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don't Fall In Love

I'm working with first time buyers. There are a lot of them out there right now due to the low interest rates and low home prices.

And, of course, I'm showing short-sales. I show them, I write on them, I keep showing them.

And, sometimes a client falls in love too quickly and is heartbroken. Just like our first boyfriend (or girlfriend).

We thought we just had to have Johnny as our prom date. That we just couldn't live without him. We made promises with the devil to get him......but he went out with Sue.....not us.

Takes a bit of time to get over that first lost love, doesn't it? But what keeps you moving forward...looking at Billy, Shane, Robert and more!

And, that Johnny guy? Doesn't it turn out that he really wasn't the right one for you anyways?

Don't fall in love with the first home you write an offer on. If you like it and can live in it, write an offer. But, don't let it break your heart if the short-sale doesn't go through. Your best home is yet to come!

And, Johnny turned out to have a bad heart anyways....just like bad plumbing in a home!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More Money For Californian's

So here I am again, reading and reading some more. Just about every day I look around to see news related to Real Estate. And, there is always something.

Today this article I found on the Housingwire site:

Can't say how well, or if it even will, help some of us in California that are struggling to stay in our homes. But, while a lot of us complain about what the government is doing, at least they are trying to do something!

If you read the article, you'll note that very few servicers are working with this program. I can only hope that more will come on board.

The monies that they are offering are plentiful. And, I think they could definitely help a handful of people keep their homes. A handful you say? I know, but I believe every little bit helps.

Kudos to Cal HFA!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More Homeowners Need to Use HAFA

If you are facing foreclosure, or think you may be? Try a Short-Sale through the HAFA program first. Attempt a loan mod, if it doesn't work, try a HAFA short-sale.

The more homeowners that can utilize the HAFA program, the faster they move along, the better and quicker recovery the housing crisis will have. I am so sick of that 'housing crisis' phrase. But that's exactly what we have going on.

Although the treasury admits that the HAMP and HAFA numbers are dismal, they are better than nothing. I'm a 1/2 full, rather than 1/2 empty gal! Any way that we can get more people to not foreclose on their homes, the better. The less inventory that goes back to the banks, all the better.

I read a great article on this morning. It truly mirrors my feelings:

WE can't move forward until we clean up our mess.
 It won't be left behind.

Now, I'm certainly not saying that the HAFA program will expedite everyone's situation. But the more that try it, the faster we move on. The more homeowners that stop peeking from behind their curtains, that hope their problems will go away miraculously some how? If these homeowners would attempt to utilize some of their options...? We'd have less of that (another phrase I dislike) 'shadow inventory'.

I know there are plenty of people that have stopped paying their promised mortgage. Some can still definitely afford it and are considering a strategic default just because their property had dropped in value. And, others simply cannot make those payments. Many are just enjoying a free place to live until the bank comes to take it away. I hate that. Really bugs me. I'm upside down myself, but I love my home so I keep paying the bank back the money I borrowed from them.

At this point, it's a question of morals and ethics.

If you can't afford your home, call me. Let's try and do a HAFA Short-Sale to get you out of trouble. If you just don't want to pay the bank what you owe them? What goes around comes careful going around that next corner in your life!