Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fannie & Freddie Rolling Out New Appraisal Comparable Sales Guidelines

Appraisers have had to be ultra careful over the last few years. When I first started selling homes it seemed like you could wink at an appraiser and they would bring in the value for a purchase. Those days are long gone. We couldn't hardly speak with them for a few years. Now at least we can chat with them, point out improvements, give them our comparable sale information.

All good, right?

Well, be prepared. Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac are bringing to the table (January 26th) what they call Collateral Underwriter. It's an okay concept, but it will likely make the appraisal process more costly and lengthier.

A computer program will generate up to 20 comps. They will be categorized by risk factors. The appraiser will be questioned about their comps used. The ones with the least risk factors will be preferred over the higher factored ones. HOWEVER, the lower ones may be in a completely different neighborhood.

Here in Santa Clarita Valley, we use tracks to find our comparable sales. We sometimes go outside the immediate track and look for others that are same age, size, amenities, and such.

In San Fernando Vally, Los Angeles, etc., we use Thomas Guide map numbers, neighborhoods, boundaries, age, size, amenities, etc. It's an older community that originally were tracks for sure!

At any rate, there is suggestion that we will be running into some appraisal value issues due to this new guideline.

Just truly a beware. Buyers and Sellers alike. It will affect both sides. Costs, time, lower values.

Just a little wrench thrown into the mix!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More New Decorating Ideas For.....Yep, The Good Old Kitchen!

I play around on Facebook like a lot of you surely do as well. I keep seeing this one house decorating site go by and periodically I peek at something that catches my eye.

The most recent one? Painting your old hardwood floors.

I think it could be a great idea for a fairly quick and inexpensive makeover. BUT, I also think that it will get chipped away a lot faster than paint on a wall. We do, after all, walk on our kitchen floor. Drop things on our kitchen floor. Wash our kitchen floor, over, and over again.

I had a client this year that had older blond laminate flooring and we had discussed painting that. Not done, mostly because the Googling of info told him that it would just not last at all.

But, I suppose if you've got real wood, the old thick planks (not wide but deep) it'd take more to painting. Say you didn't like it? You'd have plenty of wood on the old floor to sand the color off and try something different.

I have engineered wood flooring, and 3 dogs
Nope, painting my floor is not going to work for me at all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Finding A Realtor Out Of Your Current Area

Let's say in the year 2015 you are moving to another city, state, or even another country. How the heck do you find a great Realtor to help you buy in a different location if you don't know anyone where you are moving to?

Ask me! As a local Realtor in Southern California I do sell homes for people moving out of the area. I also help people buy homes moving into the area.

Let's say I find a great agent in Wisconsin? One that came highly recommended by my buyer here? Well, see, now I can help you find a great agent if you want to move to Wisconsin!

Whoops, what if you need an agent in an area I haven't worked with one before? One that hasn't been recommended by a client? That's what networking with my local associates helps with. I'll look to see if someone knows a great agent in New Jersey, let's just say. I don't know anyone that wants to move to New Joysey though!

Now, let's go further. You are moving to an area that no one knows anyone. Yikes! Ask me! I'll check with the local associations, view their credentials, their sales history. I'll even phone interview them for you. I know if you trust me, feel comfortable and confident working with me.....I've got to find someone very similar.

Keep this in mind when you're worried about finding a great Realtor in another area. If you don't know someone that you trust to refer an agent to help you.......check with me, I can usually find the perfect match!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Under Eight Percent Of Home Owners Still Under Water

In 2012 that percentage was 33.5. Four times what it is now. Equity has come back for so many. I'm still a bit underwater but I'm paying it down as fast as I can. I borrowed it, I'm paying it back.

A few years ago were tough years for many homeowners and Realtors. Our income reduced dramatically as our home values depreciated dramatically. A lot of people were hurt by the housing bust. I continued to pay my mortgage. Cut back on several things, well actually had to cut back on many things, to be able to pay. I was definitely one of the fortunate.

But, we are so far away from the bust. So far away from 33.5 % of people being underwater with their home loans. It's a good thing.

Some day soon we will look back and think of these last few years as a distant memory. I'm hoping that we've learned enough not to make the same mistakes. We likely haven't all learned as much as we should. And, of course, there will be new buyers to make the same mistakes we did. New bubbles that will rise. Just praying that the bubble doesn't get so big again. So big that when it starts to deflate it doesn't lose air so rapidly that we have a repeat of our recent burst!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Selling Your Home Over The Holidays?

All the same prep techniques do apply. A bit of staging, the right pricing, the appropriate cleanliness, and more. But, what about your holiday decorations? Should you, or shouldn't you?

People shopping for homes over the holiday season expect a bit of decorations. Should you go all Clark Griswold with the exterior decorations? Um, yeah, no....probably not.

What about the inside decorations? You definitely need to refrain from some indelicate types of displays:

This would be in the NOT appropriate type of holiday decorating
 when selling your home!

Don't forget, you can take your home off the market for special dinners, events, etc. during the season that you are selling. No worries, that's my job.

But, please don't put too much in the way of showing restrictions on selling your home any time of the year for the best possible net sale........holiday time or any old other time!!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Santa Clarita Valley MLS Stats Today December 5, 2014

A super quick info only post!

Acton, Agua Dulce, Canyon Country, Saugus, Newhall, Valencia, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic, Val Verde....the towns that I consider Santa Clarita Valley......MLS stats today.

Active listings: 598

In Contract: 489

Closed Sales in last 30 days: 291

Anyone that is following my blog knows that's about the same number of closed sales in a 30 day period we've had for a while.

Down to 2 months of inventory.

Let's get us some listings!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sorta Real Estate Related ~ California Public Schools Poised To Get Some Nice Funding!

Schools impact Real Estate. Good schools make for happier families. Adequate funding makes for better schools. Desirable neighborhoods generally have excellent schools! Win-Win, see?

So proposition 98, passed way back (LOL, really not that way back in my eyes) in 1988, voted in a rule that when the states coffers fill up with tax dollars, schools will get the single largest portion of the cash.

Newest report indicates that in the budget year ending next summer, public schools are expected to show increased funding in the amount of 2.3 Billion dollars. I know, that will dwindle down. I've not done the math as I don't know how many schools California has in K-12. Do you? I suppose you or I could Google it. (I looked, about 10,000 schools).

But, the good news doesn't stop there! The following fiscal year it's supposed to be about 2.6 Billion, and another 2.2 Billion the year after that. That's a whole lotta money. Again, it will never likely be enough, but every little extra bit is better than none.

Many teachers out here spend much of their own money on their students. Seems particularly so in the Elementary schools. I appreciate that, very much, and I thank you teachers everywhere!

If the prop 98, that we voted in, gives a bit more cash to each and every public school in California, I'm hoping it has a nice impact on the students they service and the teachers that teach them.

Friday, November 28, 2014

I Didn't Coin This Phrase, But It Fits!

The 'Senior Sell Off'. Yep, it's going to start in the next few years due to the age of many homeowners, the Baby Boomers (I included) that will be retiring in the next 15 years.

I've been saying it for a while, watching my peers have grand babies. Hearing that so-and-so is retiring next year. Etc. I've been telling people there will be a drove of sellers that are retiring. Whether moving to a smaller home or moving to be closer to where their kids have started raising a family.....there will be many homes available for sale.

Based upon the age of your community there could be many homes available that are 'older' homes. Ones built more than 15-20 years ago.

Particularly in my specialty area, Santa Clarita Valley, where we have had a bevy of new construction over the last two decades. If you've read my blog for a while, you know I call Santa Clarita 'The Town of New'. New homes are what sell best in my market!

Hop in the Millennials, those under 33-ish, prepping to move into home ownership. These little lovelies are the ones that like newer homes. Fancy appliances, updated flooring, smart houses.....yes, different than what we wanted 20 years ago. Mostly because it wasn't available and times have certainly changed.

So, as a soon to be retiree, what do you do to make your home more desirable to a Millennial that comes a browsing? I find it interesting that a home stager feels it's all about staging. I love prepping a home for sale. Suggesting this, moving that, changing something else.

Unfortunately, as this market continues to rebound, we have home builders poised to build more new homes with all the bells and whistles. Gadgets that will be desirable to the Millennial buyer. Not everyone that is selling will be able to compete on that playing field.

And, while staging will help some, and pointing out upgrades is another......price will still be the thing that gets your home sold.

But, keep this in mind.....as you are preparing for retirement......whenever you are considering upgrading, painting, changing flooring.....at this point in your life be aware of what a younger buyer may find appealing. Usually people do things in their home for themselves, something that makes them happy. Most of the time they don't do anything so horrific that it would turn off a lot of prospective home buyers. But now, as we are aging.....truly consider that next home project.....and ask yourselves....will it appeal to one of those dang Millennials??

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Bit Of Info On Foreclosure Activity

A couple of items to note. Via several different information sites. California was among the top 5 states to recently close on foreclosures. Meaning, the notice of defaults & notice of trustee sales were culminated in a full foreclosure. Okay, so we're still clearing out some old notices.

However, the newbies, the ones that are just coming down the pipe. New notices of defaults and notices of trustee sales are mostly in the Eastern states. Oregon on the west, but the rest on the East.

Still a ways to go, yes indeed. 
California is coming out of the poop pile finally it would seem.

(funny picture, isn't it?)

I only bring this quickie to your attention to satisfy your need to know. 
Any questions about So. Cal Real Estate, just ask!

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Sooo Wanted To Be A Detective ~ And I Am....Sometimes!

When I was a child I wanted to be a police detective. Not for justice and all that. But because I always liked to figure things out. I do believe in right over wrong though, so some justice! Mostly I loved to learn new things, determine what, where, when, why, and how.

Yeah, I don't see me wearing this outfit though! Do you?

I decided against it quickly as I didn't want to be a police officer of any kind first to get to detective status.

However, as a Realtor....wow, we really are (if we're any good) a detective!

In any escrow there is the period that I call 'Discovery'. Aka, the contingency period. Discovering if it appraises. Discovering if buyer can truly get the loan. Discovering if there is anything substantially wrong with the property. Etc.

Most escrows we find little things. We discover items in inspections, termite reports, appraisals, and so on.

One I'm working on now.....discovery is sooooo much fun! Truly. Digging deeper than most would, investigating more than many. Finding out all kinds of interesting little things. Some potentially big.

Each and every discovery is for the protection of my client. To make sure that the property they are buying is going to work for them. Is safe, isn't zoned wrong, doesn't have any negatives not disclosed by the seller and/or not known by the seller.

I've had other agents think I go a bit overboard, too detailed on my personal inspection disclosure, looking further than necessary.

I'm a bit OCD, I'll give them that. BUT, if I was buying a property, I'd want to know everything about it as well. So, anything and everything I can help my client to discover, I'm all over it. 

It's the childhood detective in me I suppose! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Spoiler Alert ~ I'm Not Big On Ginormous Punitive Damages

A homeowner that was struggling to avoid foreclosure contacted a company that said they could help negotiate his loan balance. I.E. Loan Modification. We should all know by that that we could do that ourselves.

The loan mod apparently kept changing, homeowner got peeved, stopped paying. The servicer then filed foreclosure proceedings. The homeowner then filed suit against the servicer. Not just for the breach of contract and good faith ($160,000) but also for punitive and compensatory damages which amounted to over 16 MILLION dollars! Yep, Sixteen MILLION!!

I believe that if he lost his home he should definitely be compensated. I believe that if he lost work, had medical problems, lost family, possessions, yes, he should be compensated. But, 16 MILLION dollars? For a home that wasn't worth nearly that much? I mean, not anywhere near that price point.

I was called into jury duty a few years ago. The plaintiffs attorney asked me how I felt about punitive damages. I told him I felt that it should cover expenses, lost wages, etc. but not an excessive amount .... just because they could possibly get it. I was excused. Go figure.

So, while I believe in home ownership. Believe that no one should be kicked out of their home. No one should suffer a loss, of any kind, due to inappropriate mortgage proceedings. I do not believe in the magnitude of a 16M award for this homeowner.

If I've pissed you off, I apologize in advance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How Appropriate & Wonderful For Veterans Day Today!

Nothing better than waking up to a text message from a listing agent that my clients offer was accepted. Well, except for today! That buyer is a Veteran, today is Veterans day, and he is utilizing his VA benefits for a home loan with zero down! Now that is definitely better than any other!

I have never been one of those agents that is only focused on what I make. I am always focused on what I can do for my client to make the home buying and/or selling experience as easy as possible.

I take great joy when we hear it's accepted because I know that it creates great joy in the hearts of my clients.

But this family.....phew.....couldn't be more happy, proud, thrilled, heart-filled, for them. Still got to get through the escrow process, but to get their offer accepted? Awesomeness complete!

If you are a Veteran, take a gander at this website ~ US Department Of Veteran Affairs ~ Home Loans ~ there just might be a way we can help you get a home too!

 Thank You to all of our Veterans today and always! 
A very special congratulations to my Veteran clients today.....well, and always as well!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Real Estate Commissioner Says California Not In A Bubble

Due to his watching subdivided land, licensing of Real Estate salespersons & brokers, and timeshares. That's his commanding word!

I'll take it. I know a lot of people were thinking we were creating a bubble. I also know we are seeing more people get their salespersons license. But, I've also seen enough price reductions to know that we certainly aren't creating a bubble with the likelihood of bursting anytime soon. Not saying what the next decade will bring, just not now.

What intrigued me the most was the number of licensed salespersons in California in 2007 (549,244) compared to the number earlier this year (402,629).

Surely as the market continues to improve, the number of agents licensed will increase.

Law of nature....Real Estate nature!
This one, the Law of Attraction for sure!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Get Married, Buy A Home! Really?

Now, that's a funny article that prompted this blog post! Survey says.....that the percentage of people getting married...well not getting married, is equitable to the percentage of people not buying homes.

I find that mildly interesting. Yes, people commit by marriage, have some children, buy a home. But, I do believe that people buy homes as investments too. Smart ones buy them as ways to earn equity in their pockets vs. a landlords pocket. Married or not, people are buying homes. Well, I've got people buying homes!

I list homes for people, single and married. I help buy homes for people, single and married. Sometimes they are just one buyer or seller, sometimes two, sometimes married, sometimes not. I'd have to go back and look through the last couple dozen transactions. Wait, let's see.....wow, 50% were of the not married variety! And, those were buyers and sellers!

So, I'm not buying it, not in my market place. I must work with smart people. Well, what's that old saying.....flock together, birds and such. I've got some intelligent birds in my group of clients.

Would you only buy a home if you were getting married? Or, if you were having children? Come on....really?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Earthquake Insurance Or No Earthquake Insurance

Depending upon who you talk to is likely whether or not you have Earthquake insurance attached to your homeowners insurance policy.

I read an article this morning that says many people don't realize it doesn't come automatically. Really? I find that hard to believe. Regardless, your regular policy does absolutely not cover hazard from earthquake.

Are we due for one in California? It's been a while. You'd think we must be due. We've had some weird weather over the last year....maybe that's a sign? Hah. Who knows.

At any rate, I had EQ insurance for the 94 quake. Didn't help me at all due to the high deductible. FEMA helped us enough that we didn't have to take an SBA loan out as well. BUT, we had very little damage. We were much more fortunate than many others.

Could a natural disaster, such as Earthquake, hurt this recovering housing industry? Hell yes, it sure could.....particularly if there isn't enough money to go around to repair homes.

Not working on a scare tactic, just reminding you to check your policies if you think you are covered for EQ hazard. And, if you think we are due for one, may want to talk with your insurance agent about your options. As well as what options you have if there is a devastating EQ and you don't have insurance coverage.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Student Loans Held By Private Lenders Vs. Federal Lenders

So, students that are saddled with heavy loan burden trying to buy a home? Don't let it go into any default. Some of the private lenders will call it due immediately.

But, the topic of this post is really to open the eyes of every student debt holder out there, whether a federal or private student loan, that there can be modifications to your existing loan structure to help you not go into default.

Just like home loans, those student loans can be upwards of the price of a condo! So, just like home loans, borrowers can get behind.

If you are behind, the fed student loan is easier to find some help. The private one, not as much. But, check out our Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, they have some tools that can be found online so that it may be a bit easier to re-negotiate with your private school loan holder!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Dreaded 'Black Fuzzy Stuff'

When representing buyers there are a certain number of inspections that a buyer may need to do to assure themselves that the home they are buying is the right one for them.

Standard inspections may present a challenge. That being the acknowledgement of 'Black Fuzzy Stuff' or Fungus, or Mold. Call it what you will.

If I see it, I have to disclose it. If seller sees it, they have to disclose it. If any inspector sees it, they have to disclose it as well. If we learn of it, it has to be disclosed whether we saw it or not too!

Current escrow story. Home inspector noted suspect fuzzy stuff. Termite inspection noted fungus. Buyer elected, as is their right, to bring in a specialist as it was noted by two different qualified inspectors in more than one area of the home.

Mold was detected in the home in several different areas. Ugh.

The question that comes is, 'who's responsibility is it to take care of it?'. And, of course, to what extent. 

There is no exact answer. Many properties have mold in them. Unseen mold. Air spores. Anyone that is concerned about mold may call out for an environmental inspection during their contingency period.  Most don't, unless there is visible mold. But, we got mold, who's gonna take care of it?

As the buyers agent, my job is to protect my client. Determine what their needs are, how this discovery makes them feel, what the seller would need to do for buyer to continue with the purchase.

Some would say it doesn't matter as they are remodeling extensively anyways. Some would say throw some bleach on it. Some would do the remediation themselves. 

It's a personal choice. And, the discovery of the fuzzy stuff also brings up the question, how did it get there to begin with? What do we have to do to make sure it doesn't come back again?

Some are simple answers, some are structural/grading issues that need to be corrected....as in this one.

We'll see how this unfolds. Hoping the agent, who happens to be the seller, takes responsibility for it.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mortgage Rates Below 4% .....Again!!!

Nothing better when working in Real Estate to get an e-mail from one of your favorite lenders noting that a 30 fixed has dropped to 3.875%! Holy Mortgage Rate!

Truly not what I expected! The interest rates for home loans are ridiculously low. Amazingly low. AFFORDABLY (yeah that's not even a word) low!

So, while I've got several buyers that I'm searching for, this is great news for anyone in the home buying or selling market.

Less buyers usually out home hunting in the last quarter of the year. I have a suspicion that this will keep them out there looking!

I am still in shock. This is remarkable!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Calpers Investing More In Real Estate and Less In Hedge Funds!

California Public Employees Retirement System is going to be investing more in Real Estate for long term financial wealth and less in hedge funds. I think that's a wise move. Note, I said, long term.

They are going for commercial and residential multi-unit, already occupied, properties. Good move on their part. Increasing their Real Estate investment by 7 Billion up to 27% of their portfolio.

I've got my retirement spread out as well. Some in mutual funds. Most, not surprisingly, is in income property. Ultimately I'm hoping, truly, to be traveling around the beautiful U.S. of A. in a big old A-Class motor home and seeing all of our nations fun and unusual sites. So, my current home will become another income property as well.

So, if you are part of Calpers, know that you are moving into my neck of expertise. If you have questions about anything Real Estate related, I'm you're gal!

If you realized that their thought process is a good one and wish to consider creating your own retirement wealth via Real Estate, feel free to give me a jingle and I'll help in any way I can.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Can My Children Make Something Change In The Housing Market?

Article read today about research done by a 'think tank' indicated that those Millennials (people born in the early 1980's to the early 2000's) will be counted for in about 22 million heads of households in the next few years. Almost a 10% increase since just last year!

1.6 Trillion spent on home purchases....about 600 billion to be spent on rent. Apparently more, on a per person situation, than any other generation. Interesting......I find this very interesting and heartwarming as well.

Many of our parents & grandparents grew up in a recession. Home ownership was so incredibly important to them. Wonder if this is part of the reason that these Millennials find the strong desire, despite school loans that are quite large, to be home owners. They've had a significant number of their growing up years watching their parents struggle with jobs, homes, debt.

If there is one thing we can provide our children....it's the importance and value of owning a home or establishing their own home.

There is something about the independence and growth that is so invaluable when they can do that for themselves. I commend any Millennial for doing that. Whether it is this year, or per the report, by the year 2018.

I can totally see my children be part of the change in housing, how about yours?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Be Prepared For More Signatures When Buying A Home in California

In November we will be getting a new Residential Purchase Agreement to work with. Adds a few things, takes a few away. Several other documents are changed, added, subtracted too!

The changes actually add two more pages to the purchase agreement alone. The most interesting to me is the Wood Destroying Pest addendum is going away completely.

In the over 12 years I've been helping people, we've had that form. Generally the seller pays for the inspection and any Section One items. Buyer usually pays for the Section Two items. In November that form is going away and termite repairs will be another Request for Repairs negotiated if your agent isn't careful....on either side.

Just bringing this to your attention to make sure you work with an agent that has experience, a good brain, pays attention to detail, AND is aware of all the updates that come down the pipe from the California Association of Realtors so that you, the client, are protected.

All That Blue Indicating Change?  Just on the First Page!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good Old Fannie Mae Eases Waiting Period for Some Buyers

These changes actually are in effect for any buyers whose loan application dates are after August 16,2014.

Buyers with a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, new waiting period is 4 years. Time can be shortened to 2 years if the borrower can prove extenuating circumstances.

Buyer with a foreclosure new minimum wait is 7 years, possibly shortened to 3 for same reason as above.

BK you say? 4 years for chapter 7 or 11, possible 2. Chapter 13, wait now is 4 years from discharge date, may soften back to 2 as well with proven extenuating circumstances.

Previous policy wait was determined with the LTV ratios.

This should help move a few homes along.....or jump up prices with still reduced inventory.

Only time will tell!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When You Have To Realize What's Meant To Be Will Be

It's a phrase I use in my Real Estate career over and over again. Buyers can get so upset when they feel their dream home escaped them.

Some crazy lady in San Diego county went way beyond normalcy when her offer was not the one selected by the sellers for what she felt was supposed to be her forever home.

She started sending Valentines day cards from the new owners husband to the neighborhood wives. She set up the wife's picture on a porn site. She sent magazines to their home. The 'pranks' went on and on.

Well this lady is now in a court case as one apparently almost led to a rape crime upon the wife of the winning home owners.

At any rate, yes, sometimes it can be very devastating not to be the buyer selected on an offer for what you believe is the perfect home for you and your family. But, there are two things here to consider. If it was the dream home....did you write your absolutely best offer? If you did, and you didn't get it....quite possibly that house was not meant to be your home.

Before I was a Realtor I wrote an offer on a home with a beautiful black-bottom pool, on a cul-de-sac, in Valencia. We got beat out. I was devastated. At the close of escrow on that property, the seller destroyed the swimming pool.

We ended up closing escrow on a bigger, better home that my children grew up in!

Below is the pool in the home we ended up buying!

It can be seemingly horrific not getting the home that you were sure was the perfect home.....but there's always another one that's meant for you.....in my humble opinion.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Selling Season Appears To Be Over

My oh my .....lots of price reductions today. It was about 23 so far this morning and our inventory in beautiful Santa Clarita is just under 800.

Several new listings have come on the market waaaaay high. But, I supposed each seller has their reasons.

Several buyers I'm working with, scouring the MLS and networking groups daily (several times daily) for just the right property.

A seller that wished they had listed 4 or 5 months ago.

But, it is what it is. Fortunately we don't have snow seasons in Awesometown, but we definitely have the typical Spring/Summer selling season height.

We do have real buyers that are coming out now though. Not the lookie-loos that you get in the normal top of the market.

Should you list now? Should you wait til Spring? Tough call. Less competition now than there will surely be in the Spring though!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dunkin' Donuts Coming Back To California

Why would a Realtor blog about this? Well, it is a bit about Real Estate. In that Dunkin' Donuts is smart enough to realize they can pay for less Real Estate to build their franchises than, what they hope to compete with, Starbucks.

The Dunkin' Donuts franchises left Cali years ago, re-worked their plans, and are now coming back. Here's to hoping for their great success!

Yes you can tell I'm not a fan of Starbucks. Fine Chai Iced Tea I do admit....but paying $3.45 for black iced coffee convenience in a plastic cup isn't for me. Especially when I could get it for 50 cents back in the day. Ahhh, those were the days! LOL

Dunkin' Donuts will likely cater to a slightly different economic crowd though. Their coffee will cost less. Will be served in paper cups vs. plastic. Surely a doughnut or two will cross the lips of those that prefer to go there vs. the current coffee giant and their scones.

But, I am one that favors some honest competition. Hoping this helps to create that in the coffee convenience serving world.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Painting Your Lawn Green Instead of Watering It?

We've seen it done, but I always thought it had something to do with fertilization. Until I read an article about a company in Northern California that is painting a lot of lawns due to the California drought.

I thought it was a great idea! Nope, I didn't investigate how much it cost. Google to your hearts content on that one. I did read that the deader the lawn the longer the painting lasts. You know like a woman that colors her gray hair? It grows and has to be touched back up. So if the lawn is completely dead there likely won't be the re-growth of roots to require touch-ups.

I received a call from my water company recently that said they were going to be giving us just a few days a week to be allowed to water our lawns. They already have that in areas of Los Angeles city, Glendale, etc. We have so many HOA's out here I wonder how they're going to handle seeing brown lawns everywhere.

At any rate, if you are a water conscious homeowner, consider Googling the lawn painters in your community and maybe it'll be a great option for you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Avoiding Legal Issues In Real Estate

As a Realtor for over a dozen years, I've never been sued, or even had a breath of a suit. For that I am grateful. Well, for that I say thank you to myself for serving my clients well, more than well actually.

Read an article this morning that a big sale (to the tune of over 12M) that happened in Malibu a few years ago was going through some legal issues due to the size of the property being about 1/3 less than the advertised square footage. Apparently there is an ordinance in that community that allows for the basement and garage to be counted in the actual size. Even if the tax records show it as less though.

The listing agent and the selling agent worked for the same company. Buyer isn't going after his agent, only the sellers agent. I find that interesting, of course!

However, when you are buying real estate.....and you are using me as your agent.....you should (and do) get every little bit of info about the property you can possibly find to make sure it really is the right property for you.

Whether it is a buyer or a seller, they are presented at the initial thought process of buying or selling:

1) Comparable Sales 
2) Property Profile/Tax Record
3) A bevy of additional documents too, of course. But for this blog, note the item directly above # 2.

The property profile is a brief, yet very important document to see if likelihood of the property being advertised at 15k sq feet is only 9500 sq feet. Sometimes they are more than noted, but if so, we need a written reason (aka seller disclosure) as to why it is not noted in the tax records attached to the MLS.

Buyers recently closed on a property that my tax records showed less than. We were able to obtain permits, which my clients signed. And, a letter from the assessors office noting the correct square footage that was advertised, which was signed as well.

Other little tid-bits are on that property profile report, tax basis, special assessments, last time it was sold, all kinds of good info. My clients appreciate it being shown to them. I would if I was buying or selling as well!

This particular buyer didn't have an appraisal, who would have caught the difference in size, as he paid all cash. Honestly at 12.5 M, I'd want an appraisal for sure, cash buyer or not.

At any rate, buyer and seller beware. Make sure you and your agent are looking for EVERYTHING, related to the property. Do not count on someone telling you the truth. Do your due diligence, no matter what. And, if I have a client that does not want to? Hmmmm, you can bet they are signing waivers indicating that they were recommended to do XYZ....and chose not to.

Friday, August 29, 2014

AmeriSave and Novo Appraisal Management Companies To Pay Almost 20 Million For Fraud Scheme

Hopefully none of my readers were Baited by their misleading ads and then got Switched to a higher interest rate.

It's not just the car dealers who do that is it?? LOLOL

Legally anyone related to Real Estate and advertising have certain standards and disclosure requirements. That includes lenders. RESPA is a big deal in my little Realtor world!

But this company advertised low rates, then apparently got up front fees from would-be-scammed-clients that would not ultimately get the teaser rate.

As you all know, I'm always happy when justice prevails. I hate people that take advantage of other people. We are in an industry that we are supposed to be helping, not stealing from, our clients.

So, good for you CFPB! Thank you for finding these schmucks and making them pay back what they stole from thousands of good people!

Hoping this stops it from happening any more!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Santa Clarita Valley MLS Stats August 26 2014

While lots of articles in the news are showing slumps in Real Estate transactions, we closed over 300 home sales in beautiful Santa Clarita Valley in the last 30 days! 311 to be exact!

Inventory is still sluggish. Only 799 active listings available as of right now.

603 are under contract/in escrow which will create more closings in the next 30 days!

With the news of FICO scoring changing recently and loans hopefully getting a little easier, I think we'll see a little boost in sales yet again!

Ever have any questions about real estate, don't hesitate to holler (I say this all the time, but don't really want anyone yelling at me) !!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Who Would Have Thunk It?

Yes I meant to spell it THUNK! But really, interest rates went down this week!! Who would have thunk it is right!

Three years ago rates were amazing, today they are still amazing. We all expected them to be in the 5's by now!

I had a conversation with one of my newest sellers about what is happening in the market. Told them things are still moving. Inventory is growing, and interest rates seem to be holding.

Will I get multiple offers? Not likely. Buyers aren't freaking out, wondering where the rates are going to be tomorrow as they stare at their computer screens looking for homes! So, they aren't in that urgency to buy. Therefore multiple offers aren't as likely to happen.....at least not in Santa Clarita Valley.

What will it be like next week, next month, next year? Not even Houdini could tell you for sure. But, inventory has climbed, the normal selling season is over, interest rates are staying low.

I would think inventory will be higher. I believe that when the Spring of 2015 hits we'll see a lot more homes available for sale. But, regarding interest rates? Not til the economy is back to strong levels are we going to see much higher in the way of mortgage rates.......I would think. But, next Spring I may be saying I Thunk Wrong!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's Happening In The Market?

Depends on where you live. What price point the value of your home is or the price point of the home you are searching for is.

Santa Clarita Valley is still low on inventory, at 802 active listings today. How come some homes sit? And, others get sold quickly? Price. It's all about price.

I can market your home til the cows come home but if it's overpriced....it just won't sell. Trust me on this, no matter what price range your home is in.

The typical selling season is over but homes are still transferring ownership. I've got buyers looking, and sellers listing their homes. Until we are closer to a normal inventory, In Our Market, we'll continue to get buyers in and sellers moved on in a somewhat timely fashion.

Keep in mind that anything in the upper range, there are, of course, less buyers for them. So, those homes need to be carefully priced and marketed. But, those beauties priced well, under 450-ish...those are the ones that we have more buyers coming to look at. Which means more likelihood of an advantageous sale for a home seller.

I've probably harped on the subject of price before. But, we have comparable sales, we have appraisals, we have investigative buyers. We have to list property, market well, make adjustments as needed.....well, unless you just want to waste your time sitting dead on the MLS that is.

Friday, August 15, 2014

California Requires Mortgage Loan Originators More Education

As a Realtor I have to take continuing education classes all the time. Our contract changes all the time too so we're constantly learning new things to help people buy and sell homes with the least amount of legal troubles later.

Been doing this for over 12 years and have never had any issues with buyers and sellers after the fact. All legal requirements are met and I go above and beyond to make sure everyone knows everything possible about the sale or purchase of their home.

Mortgage Loan Originators, obtaining licensing in California, must meet certain criteria. Governor Jerry Brown has added more.

Instead of complaining, take it as another way to not end up in court. Go with it. Learn it, master it, follow it to the T!

Below is the information about the new licensing laws. I bring it to your attention so that you can double check that your lender is meeting all the licensing law requirements...it protects you in the long run!

The new law requires that an applicant seeking a mortgage loan originator license in California must complete two hours of approved education related to relevant California law and regulation.
An applicant seeking a mortgage loan originator license must also complete at least 18 additional hours of Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry-approved education, including at least:
  • Three hours of instruction on federal law and regulations
  • Three hours of ethics, which shall include instruction on fraud, consumer protection, and fair lending issues
  • Two hours of training related to lending standards for the nontraditional mortgage product marketplace
Applicants are also required to pass an NMLS-approved written test that covers the following areas:
  • Ethics
  • Federal law and regulation relating to mortgage origination
  • State law and regulation relating to mortgage origination
  • Federal and state law and regulation, including instruction on fraud, consumer protection, the nontraditional mortgage marketplace, and fair lending issues
Additionally, the new law requires that existing mortgage loan originators complete one hour of continuing education related to relevant California law and regulation every year.
In addition to that hour, MLOs are required to take at least eight hours of continuing education a year, with at least:
  • Three hours of instruction on federal law and regulations
  • Two hours of ethics, which shall include instruction on fraud, consumer protection, and fair lending issues
  • Two hours of training related to lending standards for the nontraditional mortgage product marketplace

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's Always Your Decision

My job as a Realtor is not just to help people buy and sell homes. My job is to help people work through the process. That includes the decision about the timing of a homeowner purchase for their first home.

If you really want to be a homeowner, instead of paying the mortgage for your landlord, there are likely a few things you've been doing already.

Hopefully you've been stashing some cash. Yes, there are lots of loan programs that require little down, but the more cash you have the better. Better for your down payment and interest rate. Better for any work your possible new home may need after close of escrow.

Best set home buyers have really looked through their budget. Decided what they can cut out, what they still have to keep in. Therefore they can determine what they are comfortable spending every month towards housing expenses. A lender can frequently qualify your for a large mortgage, but you still need to be comfortable paying it every month. Don't forget about your tax benefits of home ownership. Ask your tax person what kind of annual savings you can expect.

You've probably been stalking neighborhoods that you find attractive. Ones that you are pretty sure you can afford and that offer the amenities you feel important for your way of living. Keep stalking!

Smart home buyers pay special attention to what they must have to fulfill their needs. Not their wants, their needs. Do you really need granite counters? Or do you really need 3 bedrooms and a yard instead? Always put together a list of wants, but the needs really should be top priority. Those wants can usually be added later.

So, if you've been dreaming about buying a home,
consider this information and see if you're ready!

Friday, August 8, 2014

I Would Never Want To Be An Appraiser!

Poor guys (or gals)....so much rests in their value decision! Two properties that I have in escrow this week we were kind of holding our breath on the appraisal outcome. One most definitely was a little edgier than the other.

First one came in....phew....out whooshed my breath. I wasn't horribly worried about that one. The next one, concerned as the comparable sales were all over the place and the property my clients have in escrow had an amenity that we just hadn't seen in that area this year! And, it was also income producing property.

The appraiser on the first one met the listing agent and he said he felt it would be okay.....and it was.

Second appraiser was a little more close-lipped and I was figuring we may have a value problem in the amount of about 25k and knew the seller would be really, really, unreasonable if the value didn't come in at contracted purchase price!

Just got the good news today that not only did the appraisal come in at purchase price but due to the appraisers knowledge, skill, and expertise, he found comparables that I wouldn't have used due to how long ago the homes had closed escrow. But, those appraisers (and I took an appraisal course too) have great little appraiser calculations to give value even when it's older than the traditional 90 days that they prefer to use!

At any rate, wandering and blabbering....as I do. Very happy for both of my clients in the excellent calculations and ultimate valuations of their soon to be homes! And very thankful that my chosen career is as a Realtor....not an Appraiser!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Do You Have An Adult Child Living At Home? You Are Not Alone!

It may not seem Real Estate related but it definitely is. The funniest thing I thought is the article I read today is that 1/2 of the parents surveyed don't seem to mind at all.

My ex-in-laws seem to love it! And, they have my ex and my kids under their roof! The kids are considered the Millennials. The younger ones are 18-22, and the older ones are 23-34. Mine are the Older Millennials.

The largest chunk of kids still living at home are saving money while still in school. A big pool too are the ones that just don't have enough income to live on their own. That's a big problem.

Will they buy when they actually do move out? The majority likely will be renting. Less than a third, per the survey, do their parents think they will be able to buy a home.

As the market continues to have appreciation, that percentage of renters vs. buyers will likely increase further.

But then, when I was young, my first husband and I agreed we would have lived in a shack to sock away money to buy a home. And, that the first home wouldn't be a mansion by any means.

So, yes, they are saving money by living at home.....but are they really SAVING money to buy a home? Or just living cheaper by living at home?

I'm going to shut my mouth any further on this subject. But, Feel Free To comment!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Loan Modification Scammers Are On The Rise Yet Again

Some home owners are still in need of financial assistance. I've seen a rise in short sale listings recently. Not a ton, but just a few. My thought process is it's the end of the road for these people. They may have tried loan modification, tried to continue to pay, got further in debt. Hard to say, just my presumptions.

I haven't worked a short sale for a seller in about 2 years, well, something like that, so I'm a bit out of the loop as to the reasons.

Back to the subject of this post. If you are having financial issues, if you are having trouble with your mortgage....call your lender first. Be your very own advocate. Do Not Pay Anyone up front to help you. Only if you have a personal referral from a dear friend or trusted business professional that has seen the company actually get help for other clients.

Those bastard, yes I said bastard, scammers are out there again!
 I get so mad the way people take advantage of others that are in need!

But, I'm happy to report that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
 has cracked down on a handful more of these creeps! Two were from So. Cal....Siringoringo Law Firm and Clausen & Cobb Management Company.

Hoping none of my readers are involved!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Retail Spaces Filling Up Again

Well, not nearly completely full here in Awesometown, but the article read today that I'm sharing about indicated that inland empire cities were finally getting multiple tenants vying for the retail space. Yep, multiple! That's wonderful.

Hit our own mall yesterday, late afternoon, to avoid the outdoor heat and lapped it 6 times with a dear friend. Noticed a lot of changes. Yep, I'm not a mall shopper at all. But, I did see new stores, some waiting to open up additional new retailers. Those are good things.

If retailers are feeling that it's time to start opening more stores, we are certainly further on the road to our economic recovery. They obviously feel we are starting to have some surplus money to spend.

I hope all of you are in a better position today than a few years ago. 
Now, get out there and do some shopping!

Lauren Lefkowitz Greber ~ Realty Executives Valencia

Friday, July 25, 2014

Would It Be Zillia or Trullow?

Lots of buyers look, and sellers too, at Zillow and Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.Com, as sources to find homes and compare their existing homes to others.

That's fine with me! I have nothing to hide. I believe that everyone deserves to look at anything and everything they want.

But, I do still feel that the majority of buyers and sellers completely depend on a licensed Realtor to assist them in a home buying or selling purchase.

And...I know don't start a sentence with And......I believe that those are the ones that come out of a buying or selling transaction with less likelihood of any issues later. Well....that is if they use a good agent of course.

I'm not going to tout the righteousness of my chosen career. I know that my clients are much better offer....really MUCH better off...using me to assist them. I can't guarantee that with every other agent out there, but that's why mine keep coming back and referring to me.

I don't need to pay for leads, that's where my past service pays off. Treat people the way I want to be treated, protect them, educate them, make sure I do the best for them. I don't need Zillia or Trullow (LOLOL) to sell me their leads.

Going a tad off topic here. All I want to point out is that it would be easier for internet home searchers to have it all in one site. But, trust me, some other site will come along and say they are better than the combined big dogs. And (whoops there I go again starting with And), trust me yet again.....there will continue to be some ridiculous errors are their part. Their answer to those errors? They let any schmo put up information....if they pay to do it. They don't, however, verify it's accuracy.

Anywhohow, Zillow and Trulia thinking about combining. Surely a bunch of agents will be freaking out. Not little ole me though. I just keep doing an excellent job for my clients and they keep referring new clients to me!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Would You Buy A House That Was Supposedly Haunted?

Oh goodness, I just read the funniest article! About a company that specializes in selling properties, that claim to be, haunted houses!

One of our local area seller disclosures asks if the home is stigmatized, or haunted. Most sellers actually laugh about it. One seller tried to tell me theirs was, but then started laughing and told me it was the neighbors remote control for the ceiling fan.

I did have an unusual haunted home though. Well, so says the buyer and the seller. Owners hadn't lived in the home for many years, they had moved out of state and turned the property into a rental.

I represented the seller on this transaction. A few months after closing I ran into the buyer around town and she asked me if the seller had mentioned if they ever had a ghost? I looked at her rather shocked but she calmly described that her young son, about 2 or 3, frequently had conversations with a nice man in their loft. Enough so that the buyers took it seriously. I called my seller and they remembered that their son, who at this point was about 9 or 10, had a 'friend' in the loft when he was a toddler too! Weird you say? I don't know. My only experience in a haunted house. Fortunately it was a friendly ghost. I've seen the buyer again around town since there and the loft man doesn't come around anymore. But, her son is now in that 9-10 age too. Gotta wonder about the history on that home and/or neighborhood.

But, the point of this story is....would you purposely set out to find a home that was haunted to buy and live in? Would you purposely not buy a home that you found out was supposedly haunted?

I'm curious what my readers think. Haunted or not haunted, would you or wouldn't you? Very curious!

~ Lauren Lefkowitz Greber ~ Realty Executives Valencia ~ Lauren@KeepYourWitz.com ~

Friday, July 18, 2014

Inheriting A Property May Cause Financial Distress

When someone inherits a property upon a death sometimes it's a great thing to keep it in the family. Or maybe for the surviving spouse still to have a place to live.

However, what if the survivor, or inheritor, can't necessarily afford the mortgage? Or what if they aren't even on the loan to begin with? Then what happens?

Getting a property due to a death that has zero debt is wonderful. Getting one that has a debt, sometimes is not so wonderful.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  has issued a new ruling so that the lender can't foreclose on the survivor, regardless if they are on the mortgage or not.

"Losing a loved one should not mean also losing your home. Today's interpretive rule makes it clear than when family members inherit property, they can take over the mortgage without jumping through unnecessary hoops" said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. " This gives heirs an opportunity to work with the lender to pay off the loan or seek a loan modification.

The ruling took place in the beginning of this year. It won't necessarily put the inheritor on the loan but it gives them virtually the same rights.

One less thing to worry about when a loved one passes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Will The Fed End The Stimulus Bond Buying Program?

The Federal Reserve, our 'Mother' banking nerve, has been tapering off the buying of mortgage backed securities at every committee meeting since the end of last year.

Remember, we all freaked out? Thinking rates would sky-rocket?

Rates have still remained relatively low....yeah, yeah, yeah 'for historical rates'!

At any rate....pun intended....expect that they likely will discontinue the stimulus program as we continue to improve our own economy. They've helped for a long time and seems like this, one of the last few bandaids, may be getting pulled off before the end of 2014.

Lauren Lefkowitz Greber ~ Realty Executives Valencia

Friday, July 11, 2014

Concerned With Foreclosure Stats Bumping Up?

An article read indicates not to be worried. Only up less than 10% with 1/2 of those 2nd time round foreclosure starts. Meaning someone that was in foreclosure before, did a loan mod, got current, and now is defaulting again.

We are however, year over year, down by over 30%. So, although it's a little scary to hear that, it's still down from where we've been.

I think it's wise to be careful, wise to not give money to people that shouldn't have it, wise to be aware. I do believe we are continuing to get out of the black hole we went into, but it's still a bit grey.

Lauren Lefkowitz Greber ~ Realty Executives Valencia

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Awesometown MLS Numbers for July 8, 2014

Well, it's not just Awesometown that I'm reporting on but I do get a kick out of calling it that!

So, let's see here....as expected inventory is increasing rapidly!

ACTIVE in all of Santa Clarita Valley (Including Acton, Agua Dulce, Canyon Country, Valencia, Saugus, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic, & Val Verde) ~ We have 808 homes available for sale! Yes!

Under Contract ~ 577

Sold in the last 30 days ~ 296

With these kinds of numbers we are now pushing a 3 month supply of homes! Yet, I still have 3 home buyers that I can't find the right home for! 

Let's see what the weekend brings!

Any questions about Real Estate in all of Southern California, I'm your girl!

Lauren Lefkowitz Greber ~ Realty Executives Valencia 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Remember All Those Investors That Bought Up Foreclosed Properties?

Not the ones that bought at court house steps. The ones that were allowed to buy in large group quantities?

Well, they've had them as rentals for a while. Now, they are packaging them for sale to other investors.

Why you ask? Because they are likely tired of being landlords, values have gone up, they can fill their coffers with cash instead of houses.

Ah, to be one of those original investors!

Just really a Real Estate FYI. What does it mean to you? Well, my thought process for a buyer is ultimately more inventory. To a seller, hmmmm, well ultimately more inventory means ultimately more competition.

And, piggy-backing on my post from last week......less likelihood of another housing bubble anytime in the near future.

For any of my thoughts on Real Estate, just give me a jingle! 
Lauren Lefkowitz Greber, Realty Executives Valencia
(661) 964-1600 x 3317

Friday, June 27, 2014

Worried About A Housing Bubble....Not Here

So, we definitely had a HUGE bubble burst just a few years ago. People are watching prices go up and are concerned that we will have another one.

I say no. Well, I say not here in Santa Clarita Valley. Why, you ask? Or, I guess that would be why not?

Because our inventory is climbing. We are just under 800 active homes in our MLS as of right now for our little Awesometown neighborhoods. As that continues to climb, sellers have to be more careful of their list pricing.

Showing property to a new couple today. Only 2 homes, but looking at the comps, they are both over-priced! Really, one by only about 10-20k, the other....sheesh, almost 35k.

Early in the year, and last year, they may have been able to get that with the shortage of inventory. But, not so much now. Well, not out here. Can't guarantee how Real Estate is in all of California. I can tell you in San Fernando Valley it's cooled a bit too, but some properties are still very Hot! One couple we wrote an offer on a little house in North Los Angeles area and it has 15 offers. But, that's cooling, trust me....beginning of the year, it would have had 30!

This is my take on Real Estate right now. I've read articles that say we are still below normal pricing. I laugh at that. Nothing stays normal in Real Estate. But, my associates and I are saying we are returning to a Normal market!

Feel free, keep poking at that bubble, I just don't see it bursting again for quite some time!

Lauren Lefkowitz Greber ~ Keep Your 'Witz' About You When Buying Or Selling Your Home

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Newest Want In Real Estate...Or Is It? You Decide.

Walkability....the buzz word that will start to fill sellers ears. Sooner than later. How walkable is your neighborhood? How close to the nearest park? How far to walk to Starbucks? Are there shops that you can stroll around and look at....nearby? Within walking distance? Or does everything need to be gotten to by vehicle?

Walkability.....does your home fit in that category? 

It's what the next generation seems to be looking for. The Los Angeles area is awesome for finding walkable neighborhoods. SCV.....not so much, just yet. We have the Patios at the mall, and Town Center Drive. But, how close are those to your home? We have lots of Strip Malls, but that's not quite the same as what the hipsters are looking for.

While SCV does have a ton of other great qualities, the hip walkable neighborhoods? Um, not so much.

I've been showing homes in Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Glassel Park, Silverlake, those kinds of areas that are showing gentrification and that have some really cute streets....where people love to wander. Walkable. Yep, walkability.

So, I ask you....does your home have the walkability factor going strong?

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Mortgage Relief Continues With SunTrust Bank Almost One Billion Dollar Settlement

Almost One Billion Dollars in relief? Wow, that's phenomenal! It reminded me of Dr. Evil:

Great article read just a few minutes ago that SunTrust will be paying out 968 million dollars in a mortgage settlement.

They are required to provide almost 1/2 of that in relief to underwater borrowers. 40 mill to about 50,000 homeowners that lost their homes and 10 mill to cover FHA, and other gov't insured, losses.

SunTrust also has to pay just over 400 mill to fix the mess of originating FHA loans that truly didn't match the requirements of FHA loans.

So, if you did, or do now, have a SunTrust home loan......just maybe you'll be part of this settlement!