Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fannie Mae to Sell About 2500 Homes to Investors in Bulk Offering

Heard some buzz about this already, started last year, but it's really here. Fannie Mae is going to unload about 2500 REO homes to investors that will turn them into rentals.

Yes, they have to be pre-qualified and experienced at doing this type of thing. Not just someone like you or me can get in on this. Well you can try I suppose. Click here to see if it's possible for you: Federal Housing Finance Agency.

What I found most interesting was the fact that only about 400 of them are vacant properties. I did happen to see a listing in the MLS this week for an REO with a tenant in it. I have seen many short-sales like that, but I just saw a tenant occupied REO listing for the first time....

So, Fannie Mae is spinning this as a built-in tenant....I'm thinking quite possibly a built-in squatter! But, I am happy about anything that gets more REO's out of the pipeline and either people renting them or people buying them.....the sooner the better!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Increase Traffic on Housing Websites, Does it Mean New Hope for Housing?

As I sit sipping my Coffee with the Coconut Creme flavor steaming through, I read my daily dose of Realtor news.

Same old stuff, really it is. Just a few things that I felt were worth mentioning.

First, the post title. Zillow reported a huge increase in traffic on their site. I've actually seen it on my personal sight too (www.KeepYourWitz.com). Does that mean anything? Maybe, or maybe just more people curious about the market. Quite possibly they are just cozily searching for fun while bundled in blankets in the morning. I am more of an optimist....so I will take it as people are more interested in buying a home now. Or at least, gaining interest.

The home builders are ramping up their business. More building permits, more preparation to build new homes, and more hammers nailing wood. Well, maybe they are a little premature. But at least they are generating more jobs. Increase in any employment is good!

Now, not to sound, or end with, a negative...but in the beautiful Santa Clarita Valley our inventory is extremely low. Today it sits at just a total of 924 units available for sale. And, that is all of our little valley. Valencia, Acton, Agua Dulce, Castaic, Newhall, Saugus, Stevenson Ranch, and Canyon Country. Only 924 available for sale. I won't even mention that many of those probably aren't truly active. Another post there...

I do think that in the shadows, no pun on the shadow inventory intended, that we are preparing for a rebound. Or recovery, whatever you wish to call it. I believe that the stepping stones are being laid. I believe that it is going to be a very long path still to follow, and a little blurry as to the end point, but, we are walking in the right direction.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Home Affordable Modification Program ~ Updates

As a Santa Clarita Valley Realtor you'd think my only concern was about selling homes. Working with buyers to buy and sellers to sell. Not completely so. Of course, that's my main focus....but as a Certified Distressed Property Expert I've been trained on how to help people avoid foreclosure and have learned that with lots of patience and perseverance a homeowner can sometimes stay in their home.

The HAMP program was introduced a couple of years ago and there hasn't been a huge amount of success. There has been a lot, but it's minuscule compared to the number of homes going to foreclosure.

Recently there have been some changes and a time extension for the program.
1) The deadline has been extended to 12/31/2013
2) Debt Ratio Eligibility has been increased
3) Rental Property may now be eligible
4) Balance Reduction
5) Fannie and Freddie guaranteed loans are now eligible

You can find out more details by going to their website:
 Making Home Affordable Modification.Gov

And, there is a video up on YouTube that talks about the program as well:
 YouTube HAMP Video

Really, the basics that make me write about this again? Don't wait, don't wonder. Contact your lender before you get behind. There are many options, and you must be an advocate for yourself and your family.

Start by calling your lender

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Do I Still Need To Prep My House For Sale?

Do you still need to? Of course you do! Anytime you want to sell your home and earn the most possible from the sale, you absolutely need to prepare your home by putting your best foot forward and listening to your Realtor. He/She sells many more homes, on a regular basis, than you ever have. A Realtor shows homes to real buyers, not HDTV buyers....but those ones are pretty good too!

So what do you have to do? What steps should you take? Walk through your home with your Realtor, let them guide you. Below are some simple suggestions, but each home may have a separate obstacle that your Realtor will teach you how to overcome.

We don't want just one person that likes your home enough to write an offer, we want several...

1) Clutter ~ may seem like an easy one. But, you may not see the clutter that someone else does. That toaster you use once a week? Put it away. That knife block? Can you put in inside the cabinet instead? Have a couple things on the counters, but not so many that you can't see. Furniture too. You may have a couple of really cozy pieces that you can hardly walk around. Move something out. NO, don't worry that your garage will be filled. Buyers would rather see a nicely laid out home with a crowded garage than not be able to see the floors or counters.

2) Highlight the good ~ People like center islands in the kitchen. They like fireplaces in the family room. And, some really like built-ins in their home too. Again, show off the center island. Can it be another eating place? Set a 'table' on it with pretty plates and place mats. If not quite big enough, place a potted plant or vase with fresh flowers. Fireplace? Make sure it's not just looking like an ugly old square box. It will be the focal point when you are arranging furniture, is sure better be, so make it nice too. Paint a wall near by. Add some candlesticks of different heights. Maybe a piece of art that draws the eye. If it still has the dated bronze screen, spend the money and put a more modern one in it's place. The built-ins that all your family keepsakes are in? Make sure it isn't overwhelming with...you got it clutter..... and make sure the colors go with the rest of the home. There should always be a similar flow of color through the house. Does any painting need to be touched up?

3) Clean ~ and keep it clean! Plan to do a spring cleaning, including the windows and their sills, and plan on keeping up on that level of cleanliness. Nothing worse that a buyer looking at a bathroom with toothpaste stuck in the sink, or the morning bacon frying pan still on the stove. Remember, you'll have less clutter, so it will be much easier to keep it sparkling. Animal care needs to be top notch. Litter boxes need to be hidden and super clean. Dog piles in the back yard need to be non-existent.

4) Landscaping/Exterior ~ Keep your gardener, even if it's you, on his toes! Make sure no dead spots on lawn. Trim all bushes. Keep fresh little lovely flowers in the beds. Make sure all exterior is swept and washed down. Any obvious peeling paint should be repaired prior to putting your home on the market.

5) Model home decorator touches ~ We all know how beautiful those model homes are. And, I'm here to remind you that buyers swoon over that kind of appearance. Anything, and I mean anything, that you can do to make your home look and feel more model perfect? Do it! Color coordinated bath towels. Candles, music and lights ~ all an absolute must.

There will be items we, as Realtors, suggest that pertain to your individual home. I strongly recommend you accomplish them......father maybe knows best, but Realtors know better....when it comes to the sale of your home.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Landlord - Tenant Relationships ~ You Need To Know These

A lot of people are buying up homes to become investors. Where they couldn't compete with Mr. Trump before, they now are stepping into the race. And, you all know I believe that Valencia, and it's surrounding neighborhoods, has some great investment opportunities at this time.

But, you must keep current on tenant-landlord relationships. As I too am a landlord, I read up on that portion of Real Estate to share with my blog peeps.

This tid-bit I had read and planned on writing a post about, but when a portion of it dropped into my lap while looking for investment property it jumped up in the priority list of notifying my clients, past and present.

Changes for 2012 include:

"SB 332, which allows landlords to ban the smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco products anywhere on the property, even inside the tenant's apartment unit. For new tenants in 2012, the landlord must indicate on the rental agreement the areas where smoking is prohibited. For existing tenants before 2012, a new smoking ban is a change to the terms of tenancy that requires adequate notice, depending on whether the tenancy is a month-to-month or fixed term agreement.

Another win for landlords pertains to their rights in relation to HOA's (C.A.R. sponsored SB 150). Starting January 1st, any new HOA prohibition against renting or leasing a unit in a common interest development does not affect an owner who acquired title before the rental prohibition. That owner's right to rent persists for certain subsequent transfers, such as probate sales, spousal transfers, parent to child transfers, and other transfers exempt from property tax reassessment. This law does not apply to rental prohibitions in effect before 2012.

Tenant victories this year include the right to display election and other political signs under SB 337, but the landlord can make reasonable restrictions. For a single family dwelling, a political sign can be displayed from the yard, window, door, balcony, or outside wall. For a multifamily dwelling, the sign can be on the door or window of leased premises. The landlord may also limit the size of a political sign to six square feet, and restrict posting of a sign to 90 days before an election or vote and removal within 15 days thereafter.

And, one more tenant victory was SB 341. Beginning July 1, 2012, a multifamily building of five or more units must arrange for recycling services if reasonably available from a local service provider. The landlord may, however, require tenants to source separate their recyclable materials to help comply with this law.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gotta A Tax Lien and Want To Short-Sale?

Just a quick note to remind people that think they can't complete a short-sale if they own income tax money to the Franchise Tax Board ~

The California FTB is accepting requests from taxpayers who have short sold their home and do not have enough funds in escrow accounts to pay the recorded state tax lien in full.

Taxpayers in this situation may apply for a Partial Release of Lien, which releases a specific piece of property from a recorded state tax lien. However, it does not release the lien in its entirety.  The lien remains in effect against the taxpayer and continues to encumber other property the taxpayer owns or acquires in the future.

Your agent should know, way before the escrow is about to close, if there are any tax liens against the property. But, it is possible to have it taken off the home, complete the short-sale and move on....but, with the lien still on just you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Billions of Relief Money

It's all over the news this morning. The robo-signing mess has created a huge amount of money to help the housing mess.

I've read it a few different places, so will you.This link, I think, is the best one:

I could repeat everything, but really it's worth reading the article. People that were foreclosed upon erroneously may get up to $2000.00 in damages.

People that are underwater may get help with refinancing or principal reduction. 

What I like best? That your loan doesn't have to be backed by The two F's....Fannie or Freddie. They have been doing a bit of refinancing even if you are underwater. I've checked for many clients....and, unfortunately, they were not F or F backed. So this I see, as a really good thing. The 2k isn't spectacular, a drop in the bucket. But, if we can get the rest of the people that have been continuing to pay their mortgages instead of walking away, to get a principal reduction or refinance sooner than later? We'll keep more people in their homes. We all want that, don't we?

By the way? California is getting the most! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Santa Clarita Valley MLS Stats

Valencia and the surrounding communities have a couple hundred less homes available for sale right now....kind of typical for beginning of the year. But, sharing the stats for you.

Short-Sales ~ 449
REO's ~ 147

Short-Sales ~ 483
REO's ~ 135

Short-Sales ~ 97
REO's ~ 73

And, the number of cancelled, withdrawn and/or expired listings in the last 30 days ~ 150

Monday, February 6, 2012

Military Buyers ~ $5,000 Grant

Just a quickie ~ I know we have quite a few people in Valencia/Santa Clarita Valley that this could help!

Active duty personnel, veterans, retired members of the military, and employees of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security are eligible to apply for up to $5,000 in down payment and closing costs in the purchase of a first home. The national non-profit Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation is offering the assistance through its Dream Makers program and says the grants can be applied to a mortgage from any financial institution.

Sounds good to me!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rental Values Expected To Double In 14 - 20 Years!

I have a rental in Valencia, over in the Westridge community. My tenants, knock on wood, are marvelous! I definitely think now is a great time for people to invest anywhere in Santa Clarita Valley and hold it as income property. When you can purchase a little 2 + 2 for 125k that is freeway close and has a 2 car garage? And, the rent can cover the expenses? Now, that's a great rental!

Lawrence Yun is chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. He always has a 1/2 page blurb in our Realtor magazine. Last night I cut out one that was right on target for would-be investors....to get them off the fence.

Whether you are investing in stocks/bonds/mutual funds, or Real Estate....it's for the long term, right?

Now everything will go up, yes. Well, except a fixed mortgage!

From my N.A.R. economist pal: "Rents rose at a better than 3 percent annualized rate in the third quarter of 2011, government data shows, and private data sources imply even faster rent growth.  And, there is no reason to believe this rent growth will cool, given the favorable demographics of a rising number of young adults over the next 20 years, a high number of owners of foreclosed homes who can't buy in the near term, and the low construction rate of apartments. If annual rent gains stay near 3.5%, rents will double in 20 years. If they reach 5 %, rent doubling would occur in 14 years."

I do feel that when the families whom have been displaced by foreclosure are able to start buying again, we will see some income properties make an adjustment in their monthly rents charged.....but, I do believe that Yun is pretty right on about the doubling of the rent values in my lifetime! And, a fixed mortgage is just that, FIXED.