Friday, January 31, 2014

Put Your Best PICTURE Forward

Sometimes I help other agents my highlighting their listings on my personal website. I may have a couple on there at any time!

When they send me their listing to promote I look at them, kind of like a buyer would. Quite honestly, if it doesn't look good enough to me I'm not willing to put it on my site. Sorry, but it is a bit of a reflection on me, right? Imagine what a buyer might be thinking as well.

So Trulia, one of the the Real Estate websites, has a professional blog that they post stuff we as Realtors should be (note I say should be) interested in.

Today had an good one about the 5 listing photos that attract the best buyers. They noted that 86% of people looking on line for homes find photos to be the most useful feature. Well, that makes a whole lot of sense, right? But, these same shoppers would likely be turned off from even considering a home if the pictures were sub-par on non-existant!! Listing agents take note!!!!

Well, actually sellers take note. Make sure your home is professionally photographed. Yeah, your agent that boasts about how great his cell phone takes pictures? Um, yeah, not the right agent.

At any rate, let's see what we agree on:

1) Kitchen ~ get rid of clutter and highlight high-end items. Hopefully there is something high-end in your listing!

2) Exterior ~ Make sure to shoot interior AND exterior shots. And, make sure that exterior looks fresh as a ......yep, fresh as a daisy!

3) Master Bedroom ~ Go figure, de-clutter again. Buyers like a spacious master. Make it feel that way even if it's not. Create an extra sitting area in the master, if you can without being crowded. Special accents? Highlight them for certain!

4) Master Bath ~ make it look like a luxury spa. Trust me, ask my Canoga Park seller how we did that in their home! Super sparkling clean, OMG toilet seat closed people, fresh, fluffy towels.

5) Living Room ~ Super ways to stage these to photograph well. I agree with the writer of this attention to the type of buyer that your property will draw and stage for them.

Be certain that even before the photographer takes the first shot, that your agent has gone through and made proper placements of everything in that room.

Trust me....the little things make the biggest thing happen.....the sale of your home. So, take the advice from your agent when they suggest putting the toaster oven away during the sale of your home. And, that ratty rug you love stepping out onto in your master, remove please.

I love helping people prep their home for sale! I guess I do have a creative side.....deep down!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Homes Prices Are Up But Reports Say Still 14% Below Peak Levels

We all know that values shot up in our beautiful Sunshine state of California last year. We also all know that they have slowed down and that we should see a somewhat normal appreciation this year.

But, and I'd have to almost agree with the article I read this morning, values are still below the peak by 14%. Thankfully. Yes, I say thankfully. Go ahead and yell at me anyone that is still upside down...okay I am yelling at myself as I am still upside down.

As I think about some of the neighborhoods I help people sell and buy homes in, that figure is pretty close. As I think about the peak I can remember thinking homes prices were ridiculously high and yet, for personal reasons, I sold and bought in that peak. As did many others.

So now while we continue to settle down I am happy that values aren't 'ridiculous' again. Maybe in the next few years as the unemployment and general economy improves we will see values moving up....but not bursting up like they did back in the day!

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Housing Inventory Is A Growin!

Pretty much all the buyers I'm working with right now want to buy in the San Fernando Valley. Totally cool with that. I know everything going on there, where the lines cross, how the disclosures need to be presented, agents that are good and not so good!

But, in my little home town of Santa Clarita Valley, that's where the majority of my business lays, and I spend a little extra time here so I write more about this lovely little bedroom community.

Today, our inventory of active listings tops at 534. Just a week or two ago it was under that. December slow period and all.

However, for quite some time we agents all knew that the best time to put a new listing on the market was Thursday evening, Friday morning. That way it hit the weekend warriors for their house hunting trips! All this week I've been seeing high numbers, well for our last few years numbers they are high, of new listings almost every day! Almost 20 a day!

Of course so many sellers are now in positive equity and can sell their homes! Beware though, the more coming on the market, the more competition you same sellers will have!

Now is an incredibly important time to put your best foot forward when you're getting ready to list your home.

If you want any of my suggestions on putting the foot in the right forward direction......feel free to ask! or or even I can be reached very easily!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Tale Of No Surrender!

A new escrow for a repeat client. Short time period for physical inspection. We live up to our end, get it done in 3 days.

The listing agent is in the home for the entire inspection and listens to the summary that is provided by the man that performed the inspection when he is complete.

While we had been waiting for him to finish, she and I chatted. She says her seller won't do any repairs and that she felt her home was worth 30k more than our current contract.

Something comes up of concern to the inspector, myself, and the buyer. A fire/safety hazard. An electrical panel that is known for tripping and causing that same hazard.

Outside, I ask my inspector what he thinks the replacement cost might be. 'Ball park? Maybe $1500.' I take a picture of the photo he took and send it to my personal electrician. He concurs about the brand being problematic and quotes 1500-2000.

I get a text from agent a couple days later saying that she just knows the seller won't do any repairs. She is sure the seller is looking for a way to cancel since she thinks her home is worth more.

Now mind you, the first escrow cancelled. We are the 2nd, and the winner among 2 other offers.....supposedly. We gave seller her full list price. 30k under what she supposedly thinks it's worth.

There is a trust factor in Real Estate. We try to trust each other.....sometimes we just don't though.

Once the report is reviewed by myself and all buyers we prepare a Request for Repairs. Remember I touched on that recently in this blog!

We ask for a $2000.00 credit. The microwave is broken, the flooring in the hallway was installed incorrectly, there is a GFCI need in the kitchen.....and that electrical panel known for problems! We tell her she can keep her lace curtains as part of the Request for Repairs negotiations.

Agent again says she just knows the seller won't agree. I say please present and reiterate our concerns.

So I get this text last night: "I don't know how or why, but seller has agreed".

I laughed out loud and said: Hell yes she agreed! To myself first, and then to my buyers!

Friday, January 17, 2014

You Know I Just Love This!

Anyone that's read some of past posts may have come across my utter joy in people getting their just rewards! Well, or the deserved punishment!

California Attorney General arrested several people that were defrauding home owners statewide in a takeover housing racket!  Wahoooooo I tell ya!

Three scumbags, and two attorneys are all in jail as of Wednesday with up to 1.8 million just for bail!

They figured out ways to get peoples homes via title schemes and then demanded money from the rightful owners to get their homes back! Went back as far as 2006 and were able to take possession of at least 23 residences.

A woman in Santa Barbara was the one that brought it to authorities attention and the investigation has been going on since summer of 2011.

They face restitution payments  of at least 3.5 million and jail time  of between 7 and 108 years! One of the attorneys is the one that is facing the longest jail term!

I hope they get the max sentence!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

As Anticipated, HELOC's Are On The Rise!

Read an article this morning that reported the same stuff we've all been reading and left one tiny little paragraph at the end to point out that Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) are on the rise!

This financial market is funny, maybe not a good word, how about quirky? At any rate, it is odd, quirky, funny, use your own adjective to describe it.

We get in trouble with imaginative loans, spend 6 years working through the mess that it caused, tighten credit lending criteria in hopes that it doesn't get out of hand again....and...yep, people are pulling money out of their homes for other expenses.

Well, I'm okay with long as (1) you can pay it back ~ easily, and (2) it doesn't get out of control when home prices are at astronomical values.

I'd love to pull a HELOC out of my residence to pay down my underwater home that I had to turn into a rental to pay the mortgage. But, not gonna, no way, no how.

Am I a chicken or a scaredy cat? 

Ask my financial guy ~ I'm not a risk taker that's for sure!

Friday, January 10, 2014

MLS Numbers For Friday 1/10/2014

Just an update for the first week in January of the year......get ready for it.....OMG......2014.....Two Thousand Fourteen!!!! How'd that year get here already?!?!?

At any rate, here you go. Beautiful Santa Clarita Valley, encompassing Acton/Agua Dulce to the East, Newhall/ Stevenson Ranch to the South, Castaic to the North, and Westridge Valencia towards the setting sun.

Active Listings ~ 510

Under Contract (i.e. in escrow) ~ 425 .....yes 171 are Short Sales.

Sold in the prior 30 days ~ 268

Looking forward to a wonderful year for many would-be and current homeowners!
 Here's to hoping for some more inventory!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mortgage Rates January 7 2014


Mortgage Interest Rates* Happy New Year January 7, 2014!
Rates as of Tuesday, January 7, 2013:  Loan Limits 2014:  $417,000 and $625,500
Payment per
30-Yr. fixed
15-Yr. fixed
7-Yr. fixed ARM
5-Yr. fixed ARM
VA 30 Fixed
FHA 30 Fixed
20 yr fixed rate 417,000
10 yr fixed rate 417,000

Friday, January 3, 2014

Some Fees May Not Go Up Just Yet!

FHFA new director to be sworn in, Mel Watt, announced that he is delaying the anticipated increase in the guarantee fees!

Well, he likely won't hold them off forever, but that means the cost of a home loan won't be going up by their fees as soon as expected!

They were originally to have these new fee hikes go into place in the spring. Charging additional fees to the judicial states of Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as they were the ones with the huge costs for the foreclosure activity.

Watt says he wants to really evaluate the full reasoning for the rate increase plan and the GSE's risk in doing so. He wants to figure out what the increases will do to credit cost and availability.

He wanted to mention this plan to delay so that lenders didn't start to price the announced changes way in advance of the actual effective dates.

So, stay tuned. If you're looking at a home loan, do it sooner than later!