Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Since I'm Doing A Bit Of Redecorating Myself

Well, I always read the Houzz stuff anyways!

But, this mornings article caught my eye about things to do regardless of what we've been taught NOT to do!

We're putting in new flooring. The porcelain tile that looks like wood? Gorgeous! So, of course, wall painting has to be done. And, then yes, new baseboards. Yep, new drapes as well! Oh, today I realized I need a new light fixture in the bathroom as well! HaHaHa. It just keeps going!

Regardless, these couple of 'outside the box' ideas I am sharing. They suggested seven but I'm only bringing two to your attention.

Tile outside the bathroom and kitchen....AND, off the floors !! I'm seeing more and more floor materials on the walls. One client just bought a house with flooring on a single wall and it looked great.

But this? 

I'm not so sure about this! 

A bathroom or kitchen with subway tile. A laundry room, yes. But a den, bedroom, or living room? I'm not loving it. Maybe a different tile, a different color?

What about wallpaper as a kitchen backsplash? YES, wallpaper!

Yep, this one is wallpaper too!

A lot less expensive than tile/granite/stone.

I actually liked this idea a lot. You'd probably be best getting a water-resistant wallpaper. Make sure that the caulking is perfection. Remember to wipe off any excess water regularly.

So many different decorating options with wallpaper. Soooo much less money. Sooooo much easier to change it up when you get tired of it too!

What cha think? Do tell!

Friday, December 11, 2015

TRID Boo-Boos ? Of Course! Don't Be Shocked!

I actually laughed out loud when I read it this morning. My bad.....oh geez, that is one silly phrase...my bad. I'm too old for that.

At any rate, I did laugh out loud. Of course we're going to see mistakes. That's why there was a forgiving period when the new disclosure rules went into effect.

Shocked that people make mistakes? Nah, everyone makes a mistake. These mistakes could be extremely costly in the long run though. Most mistakes are simple and can be corrected....if caught in time.

At any rate, the errors seemed to be mostly technical, grammar, punctuation, that type of thing.

I was pretty tickled when a buyers lender got a deal done in 30 days even with the new TRID disclosure delays recently. But, if you've studied them, got a good team, anything is possible!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sales Activity in Awesometown & Surrounding Communities December 8, 2015

Inventory is down about 20%. Sales are down about 30%. Pretty atypical for this time of year.

Acton, Agua Dulce, Canyon Country, Saugus, Valencia (AKA Awesometown), Newhall, Stevenson (please note, it's not StevensonS) Ranch, Castaic, & Val Verde.

As of about 9 am this morning we had only 580 active listings in total for those noted communities.

Currently under contract are 560. Sold in the last 30 days? 248.

Expecting the train to Awesometown to pick up speed again after the first of the year. Until then, enjoy your holidays. Get your house ready for me to list next year, and/or get your finances ready for me to help you purchase next year!

There's never a LAST train to Awesometown!!!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Simple Revocable Transfer On Death Deed - Legal in California January First

I've been fortunate that I've only had to deal with one Probate sale. It was a drag. Attorney fees, lag time, quite the pain with a property not in a Trust and the owner passes.

Our governor has gotten AB139 signed into effect starting January 1, 2016. It's only good for 5 years, but can be renewed. They wanted to see how it pans out before permanency.

Nicknamed correctly, as 'The Poor Mans Trust', it enables a person that owns property to transfer it to a beneficiary, upon death, without having to form a trust. If that's your only asset, probably a good way to go. Couples usually goes to the spouse/partner, so this is great for a widow or single person.

BUT, if you have a large group of assets, a Trust is probably a better way to go to protect your heirs.

Talk to a trusted adviser before you choose either option. With the costs involved of setting up a trust, probate fees for your heirs if it's not set up when you pass, this may be a good option.

Now, it is expected that there will be those scoundrels that convince some to complete the Simple Revocable Transfer on Death Deed in their name. Family members have a way to stop that but, of course, there will be legal fees involved if that happens.

I think it could be a great way to avoid significant money spent if you just don't have it. Oh, and if you set it up with Brother Johnny and later you want to change it to Sister Amelia? Absolutely can be done....prior to your demise. Just needs to be done 60 days prior to passing.

I like it, what about you?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Last Week Scramble

It's the final week for one of my escrows. I warn clients that the last week is generally a bit chaotic.

Everyone involved is asking for final documents. I mean EVERYONE!!

Lender is asking for pay stubs. Underwriter is asking for FHA mandatory clause docs to be signed. Realtors are looking for final disclosures to finally get signed. Escrow needs sellers to sign off on closing statement. Buyers need to set up cash to close.

Not to mention buyers and sellers are doing final packing, setting up & turning off utilities, signing everything everyone is asking for. Turning in everything everyone is asking for.

The last week scramble to close escrow.

Even a 45-60 day escrow is a bit frenzied at the end. Those we hurry up in the beginning, sit and wait, then scramble at the end.

Everything works out to close escrow but I'm in the middle of one right now.....and yep, we are a scrambling!

Be prepared people! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Home Loan Interest Rates November 24, 2015

Yep, gotta keep up and inform my peeps. Just had a buyer ask me yesterday what home loan rates were! Smart lady, knows she needs to be informed!!

So, thanks to one of my lender pals, here's the skinny on current rates:

(Spoiler,  for loan amounts up to 400k & you must have a 740 FICO for these rates!)

  • 30 year fixed conventional loan 20% down - 4.000% (4.175 APR) - You can get a 30 year conventional loan with as little as 3% down up to $417,000.00!
  • 15 year fixed conventional loan 20% down - 3.375% (3.515 APR) - You can get a 15 year conventional loan with as little as 5% down up to $417,000.00!
  • 30 Year fixed FHA loan 3.5% down - 3.750% (5.031 APR) - You can get an FHA loan with 3.5% down up to $625,500.00.
  • 30 year fixed VA loan 0 down - 3.750% (3.940 APR) - VA Loans are 0 down up to $625,500 in LA County and a Veteran can get a VA loan up to $1,000,000.00 with about 9% down.

Friday, November 20, 2015

What To Do With White Cabinet Kitchens

Well, I sell mostly re-sale and we're just getting a significant amount of new construction homes now, so I was a bit surprised to read that 49% of homeowners are choosing white cabinets in the kitchen.

I had an interior decorator tell me years, I mean really YEARS, ago that most set things should be fairly bland in color. Decorate around them so you can change style as frequently as you feel like it.

But, for now, with those white kitchens, what do you do to jazz them up? 4 ideas on Houzz this morning, 3 I am sharing and would love your thoughts!

One was to add a bookshelf. Meh, I didn't bother with a picture of that for you.

Another was Statement Tile

I supposed you don't have to go that colorful with the tile!

A different colored center island. Yep, a lot of us have seen that and I do really like it!

And, a mixture of materials. Wood, metal, cloth. All to add color and dimension.

I actually do have white cabinets in my kitchen. Kinda bored with them for sure. So, when we get around to painting the walls, I just may refinish our center island to match!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

AS-IS in Real Estate Purchases & The Request For Repairs....Another Saga.

Every home sale in Southern California is sold AS-IS. Stated right there in the offer on page 5, section 11.

But, also as stated in that very same section, seller has to disclose material defects and buyer is strongly urged to do an inspection.

So, based upon my buyers' desire to own a particular home we write an offer and add in Request for Repairs No. ONE indicating no repairs or credits will be requested.

But, yikes, we do our inspections and see quite a bit of work that could be very costly for my client. Seller disclosures note some defects as well. What do we do?

Well, buyer still has every right to cancel at this point. Regardless of indicating they wouldn't be asking for repairs or credits.

Does the buyer have the right to ask for repairs if they've already said they wouldn't? A bit of a gray area honestly.

Everything in Real Estate is negotiable. Price, terms, commissions. Everything. Frequently up to the very end. Well, not so much anymore because of the new TRID lending disclosure nightmare.

But, negotiations can continue to happen. If the appraisal doesn't come in, renegotiate the price. If the seller discloses something after the contract is written, renegotiate the offer.

AND, if inspections present some large repair issues.....write a Request for Repairs No. TWO for sure!

Today I'm waiting on appraisal report, termite report,
 and physical property inspection report.

Then, Request for Repairs No. TWO will be written!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Permits, No Permits, What's A Buyer to Do?

We see it so much in Real Estate, well at least in Southern California we do, remodeling, updating, roofing, done without the required permits.

How does that affect the buyer and seller in a transaction? Disclosure, knowledge, and acceptance. That's pretty much it. Well, unless you piss off your neighbor of course. That's further down this post!

The older the home, the more likelihood that some type of change has happened to the original structure. We see it a lot in San Fernando Valley (my 2nd specialty area), because the homes can be much older there. More people have owned a particular home. More people have changed it to suit their wants & needs over the years.

Now, disclosure here, I'm not an expert on when you must pull permits. That's not part of my job. I have to guide buyers on how to determine if they are comfortable accepting a non-permitted something or another, done to the home they are purchasing.

If it's some finagling of existing stuff, most don't seem to pull permits. A new bathroom sink, hardly. A new water heater, supposed to but no one does that I've heard of. A new roof, I would. A room addition, oh yeah!

But, let's say you're madly in love with a home that doesn't have permits on a room addition. Some issues that could arise? Electrical, plumbing, insulation, etc. not done correctly. You can't see that without opening walls. So, you ask seller for details and then take a leap of faith hoping you're not in arbitration with him in the future!

But, and I've seen it happen, you take that leap of faith and you start arguing with your new neighbor about something? Lo & Behold, the Building & Safety inspector knocks on your door and .....well....damn, you can see how this might go!

That's the warning I give clients for obvious additions that could bother a neighbor or that the neighbor decides to report you. Insurance usually isn't an issue, but you should check with your own carrier.

I've never seen a fire start due to inadequate remodeling electrical work. I've heard of that with old electrical though!

It's the buyers responsibility to verify permit status on a property. It's a sellers responsibility to disclose whether things were done without a permit. So, between the two parties, it should be okay. As long as their respective agents are assisting them with the disclosure, knowledge, and acceptance portion. We assist, it's the clients job to disclose & decide.

Just some food for thought for the day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Story of the Week in My Real Estate World !

Multiple offers. Ugh, love them as a listing agent, hate them as a buyers agent.

Love/Hate relationship, you see?!?!?

As a listing agent I cover my clients butt by writing tight counter offers. Particularly if the buyers are writing way over list price, or over a comfortable appraisal amount. 

As a buyers agent, it's like shooting in the dark. With a crooked arrow too. We generally have absolutely no idea where the other offers are at. Higher offer amount, better terms, represented by the listing agent, using their preferred lender? Will other buyers remove their appraisal contingency? Sign off on repairs now vs. later? Say they are putting more money down to get accepted, then change financing part way through escrow?

It all really boils down to how much the buyer wants the property. Are they emotionally invested? Are they tired of getting beat out? Will they pay 10k over appraised value so they don't lose this one? Will they truly take the house AS-IS? What scenarios that I suggest will they feel okay following?

Truly....a Love/Hate thing with these multiple offers!

Friday, November 6, 2015

What Are HOA Docs & Should You Read Them?

Homeowner Association Documents are generally provided to the buyer during escrow for any condo, townhouse, or single family residence, that is governed by an HOA. They include the rules, the board member info, minutes of past meetings, financial standings, insurance, special assessments, etc.

Should you read them? Hell YES!!! Why would someone even consider buying a property that there is an HOA and not know the rules of what you can and cannot do. The reserves the HOA has for future expenses. The minutes of the meetings depict a lot about who is involved and what type of responses happen after a motion is brought up to the board. What exactly does your HOA cover? Water, trash, inside, outside?

When purchasing a condo or townhouse it is imperative that you know who pays for what if a pipe bursts, or the roof leaks.....right? You want to know these things, don't you? Geez, I hope you are all nodding Yes....

I've told buyers that if they aren't going to read them to turn them over and I will! I'm not really supposed to, but damn,....if they aren't, I feel it's my responsibility to look for problems and alert my clients.

The buyers lender looks at financial risks too. Owner vs. Tenant occupancy. Lawsuits against the HOA. How much money is the HOA putting into reserves regularly for future expenses.

Whether that property you are buying is 150k or 1.5m, read your HOA docs. 

It'll save some possible heartache after closing escrow. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Didn't Raise Rates ..... Again!

We're all wondering how much longer these low rates can hold. When will the Federal Reserve raise rates that, of course, then dwindle down to mortgage shoppers & certainly affect purchasing power.

Once rates creep up, home sellers will need to be significantly more cautious about their pricing strategies.

Once rates creep up, home buyers will need to be much more aware of what they can & cannot purchase.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) reviews all economic factors and makes the determination to raise or hold rates the Fed will charge.

The problem is the unknown for us that are so micro focused on interest rates for our clients. Anyone that has been in the housing industry for any period of time completely understands this.

Should they refi now? Should they sell now? Should they buy now? What type of loan should they get? So many questions that we get asked on a regular basis.

Right now, we are waiting til the FOMC meets again in December. They have "decided to wait for additional information confirming that the economic outlook has not deteriorated" before they give the green light to raise rates.

We've had this threat on and off again for several years now. The on & off again threat shall continue.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Solar Panels & HOA's

I would think it was pretty clear. If you live in a condominium or townhouse that the HOA covers roof maintenance, you can't put up solar panels without explicit approval. And, the California laws about HOA's and Solar Panels likely wouldn't help you.

The community, or HOA, actually 'owns' the roof. Well, sort of anyways. The common area roof's are not really owned by the individual. Well, sorta. While a townhouse or condo is owned by the homeowner, the maintenance of roof is not. One of the reasons people like that option. Very little exterior care required.

However, don't expect it to be easy, or quite possibly impossible, to get Solar Panels on your shared roof.

Now, on a single family residence, but still governed by an HOA, that is a different story. They truly can't stop you from putting up Solar Panels on your home. You do have to get the dreaded architectural approval, they can request minimal changes, but they can't refuse them.

Most are pretty quickly approved. Maybe a color change, maybe an electrical box change. But, no disapproval, per California law.

So, considering Solar Panels? If you've got a community HOA, and live in a detached home, get the architectural approval. Go in with the knowledge they can't legally stop you, just a caveat or two possibly. But, you will get an 'You Can' approval from them. It's the law!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why Do Some Listing Agents Require Cross Qualification With A Preferred Lender?

Pretty simple answer. We want to make sure it's going to close! We need to do our due diligence to protect our sellers. If that requires our preferred lender putting the stamp of approval on it, so be it.

(Yeah, I used a cute SOA pic!)

When I write an offer for a buyer and they ask for cross qualification, do I fight the listing agent on it? Nope, not if my buyer is super interested in the property. 

Sometimes, the preferred cross-qualifying lender just talks to buyer. Sometimes they look at partial documents, sometimes they want a new credit report. Whatever they want, if my buyer wants the property, we turn it over. Simple as that. No fighting about it.

Doesn't matter if it's a 250, or 775, or 990 thousand dollar property. A few million for that matter. One of the biggest fails I see in Real Estate, is the property went back on the market as the buyer couldn't qualify.

Really? That agent's poor seller is left hanging out to dry with so much time wasted. Lost opportunities. I'm not one of those agents. I've yet to have a buyer on one of my listings not be able to close due to not being able to qualify for their loan. That's not one in over 13 years of selling homes. Nope, not a one!

Know why? Because if I don't know your lender......your buyer is going to cross-qual. That's why!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hate When This Happens!

But, dang, it had to happen. It is a sign actually, of good times in housing market.

Wells Fargo has determined that 490 jobs in their mortgage departments across the country will be eliminated.

It's due to the reduction of distressed homes inventory. Less foreclosure activity. Less mortgage refinance activity.

They are determined to place as many of these employees within the company in different departments.

But, sign of a rebounding housing market can also mean loss of jobs in the mortgage industry that focused on distressed homes.

Happy for the sign, but sad for those employees that do not get to keep a job.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

California Association Of Realtors 2016 Forecast

Basically says we are looking good. Still fairly tight inventory, still low interest rates. California leading the nation in economic job growth.

All good. This right here is a copy & paste from their report :

The California median home price is forecast to increase 3.2 percent to $491,300 in 2016, following a projected 6.5 percent increase in 2015 to $476,300.  This is the slowest rate of price appreciation in five years. 

We all know that the market is location based if course, but I feel very comfortable with their forecasting based upon my experience and what I'm watching happening in my Santa Clarita Valley specialty area.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Black Kitchens Taking Over?

Um, call me old fashioned, or call me whatever you want...but the only bit of the color black I want in my kitchen is pretty minimal.

I read a couple articles that say black kitchens are taking some space in designers heads. But, we all know...black will shrink a room, it darkens a corner, is is very ....chilly.....I'm not digging this at all.

I guess I could see it in some super techy loft. Some place maybe where they have a lot of snow so it's chilly already. Geez, maybe somewhere that the homeowner is Goth?

What say you? Would you do a totally black kitchen?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What's Going on With Our Market??

I see some agents panicking a bit out here in Santa Clarita. Well, one in particular. She does that. But regardless, people are chatting in my industry about what's happening in the market.

Listed a townhouse, same floor plan, same condition flew off the market in 1 week beginning of September. Mine is now at day 18 of days on market with no hint of an offer. Well there was a hint of one and the buyers daughter said she shouldn't buy it. Dang kids!

Another listing received multiple offers in the first week but they were 99% contingent so we selected what appeared to be the best offer with the contingent home being priced most appropriately and in a great location. That buyers' home is now sitting 9 days on market. A month ago it would have been in escrow already.

Inventory is a little seasonally down. Interest rates took a little dip too. But, the housing market feels like it's skidded to a halt....well, not really, but a little bit.

But those red cones may be trying to tell us something........

Or not. Honestly we're hitting the slower home selling season. Job growth report was a bit iffy. The scare of a possible interest hike didn't happen, so buyers are being a bit choosier in my opinion.

SPOILER ALERT ~ This is of course, just my opinion. And I'm happy to see this little bit of a stall. It keeps sellers on this planet instead of Mars when it comes to pricing. It makes for the stability of a market when sales slow down a little bit. It does make it challenging for a seller needing to sell and buy a replacement home, but it does keep things on this planet we all live on called Earth.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Home Sales Activity Santa Clarita Valley & Surrounding Communities October 9, 2015

What's happening around Awesometown?

Inventory is seasonally a bit low right now. Only 684 active properties for sale. Yes, homes, condos', townhouses. Acton to Stevenson Ranch. Newhall to Castaic.

Under contract you ask? 614. But, needless to say, many of those could still be some old distressed sales properties. I'm not going to look!

Sold in the last 30 days? THREE HUNDRED & FORTY NINE! That's a terrific number!

Everything I can see, and what I'm reading, says we will continue to have nice levels of home sales. Interest rates are low, housing inventory is climbing steadily, and the job reports are getting better.

That's What's Happening Around Town!

Any Questions? Just Holler!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Picking Apart Offers

When a buyer writes an offer on one of my listings I diligently review, dissect, pick apart. Supposed to, right?

I verify that the current home they live in is up, or not up, for sale. Some try to slip that non-contingent status in when they really do have to sell their home.

I contact their lender that came with offer. Make sure they've actually looked at Tax Returns, W-2's, assets, FICO scores, etc. We're totally supposed to, yes?

One lender I speak with today....nice guy....totally on the ball....he confirms something I dreadfully already know....not enough Realtors actually even speak with the buyers lender who is supposed to be doing a loan to purchase their sellers property. I do, more often than I should, see notes that property is back on the market due to buyer could not qualify for loan.

At any rate, it's my job to protect my Sellers, get them the most amount of money, and make the transaction as smooth as possible. It's my job to Keep Their 'Witz' About Them, right?

So today I am dissecting 3 offers on one of my listings. Will be preparing a Sellers Multiple Counter Offer....most likely.....to send back to all of them.

But, each will be different. Each will be related to that original offer. If I'm skeptical of the lender, I'll ask for a cross-qualification. If they've written non-contingent, I may suggest a non-refundable deposit. Well, we're not supposed to do that, but...well, I just may.

At any rate....off I go to Pick Apart these bazillion pages which encompass several offers!

It doesn't really go with this post but it made me laugh!

Friday, October 2, 2015

What's This TRID Stuff All About?

You've likely seen a few things pass your line of sight, if you're in the market to buy or sell a home, that talk about TRID.

The start date for it is tomorrow. No clues as to why it's starting on a Saturday, but it is. I'm sure the answer can be Googled, but it's not important in the grand scheme of things.

What do you as a buyer or seller really need to know about TRID (TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure)? To pay attention to time-lines, listen to your Realtor, listen to your lender.....don't try and make any changes that are financial, late in escrow. It'll foul things up for closing.

And, for the beginning stages....don't even try a 30 day escrow!

It's all about transparency. Making sure the buyers REALLY, and truly understand what they are doing. We've made so many changes over the last almost decade since the recent housing crash, this is just another one.

Changes in APR, changes in credits, changes in anything related to money will require a re-disclosing of documents to the buyer.

If you're trying to do Home of Choice with Concurrent closing, phew, that's a possible challenge for sure. Arrange a minimum of 3 days after closing with a possible need for more to meet any time line changes in either escrow.

For the standard buyer or seller....I REPEAT.....do what your lender tells you to do...in an extremely timely manner. For us Realtors out there.....don't waste your time screaming at the buyers lender if you got a credit towards closing costs late in the game to the lender and it delays your closing of escrow. 

There will be several things completely out of our control...which is challenging to say the least to an OCD-er like me. But, if I do what I'm supposed to do and the other agent does, and the buyer does, and the seller does....whoa....and the lender does too.....we'll all be sitting pretty. I know, lot to ask!!

It's going to take some time to get used to it. Take your B12, you're gonna need some patience for a while peeps!

Friday, September 25, 2015

What To Do With Those Dreaded Washer/Dryer Areas

One of my associates shared a post about ways to cover/hide your washer & dryer. I've got 2 upcoming listings that have this same issue.....I'll forward this blog post directly to them....or tag them on Facebook maybe!!!

I looked around, yes, I do love the Google, to find a few additional ways based upon the area my clients have mostly.

Some areas are just smaller, new machines stick out a bit further, doors are removed over the years. Or, they just never had a separate space.

But, these, I thought they were lovely. Different ideas, nice looks. What do you think?

I see this one a lot.

I like this different version of the first one.

Oh, yeah, but in a different color for me.

My absolute favorite!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Million Dollar Listing & Coughing Up The Cash

So, yes, I admit it....I do watch Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. I tried New York but didn't care for it.

I absolutely hate Josh Altman, it's all about him. The two guys together are okay. My favorite is Josh Flagg.

But, I tell you the one thing that strikes me as odd? They never offer to give up any of their outrageous commissions to close a deal.  Well, I suppose they don't want that to be seen on national television, maybe.....

Throughout my career I've been selling 85% in Santa Clarita Valley. We range from about 300 to 800 on the average. Josh Flagg? I looked, his sales are averaging 3M.

Most people know, but as a reminder, we split the listing commission charged with the buyers agent. We also split it, in some way, with our broker. Desk fees, franchise fees, transaction fees, error & omission fees......they definitely take a piece of the pie.

That's part of doing business. So, watching their show, they love telling us the commission for the homes they are selling. And, holy crap....it's a lot!

I admit that working with the higher priced listings comes with more drama, more tension, more difficult clients. You're kidding yourself if you don't think so.

But sheesh....it's absurd how much they are earning....absurd!!! But, if I had stayed in W.L.A. to raise my kids instead of coming out to the suburbs of Santa Clarita.....I'd be making those absurd commissions too.

At any rate, back to: do they cough up any of their commission to get the deal done?

Do they turn over any of that hard earned dough?

I am quite curious if they do. I will sometimes. Not all the time, but if we're so close and I want my client happy? I'll cough up a bit to help them get it done. To help them get into the home of the dreams, or to move forward from the sale of their residence.

I am just really curious if someone making $75,000 on a sale would cough some up too!!!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sometimes The Biggest Is NOT The Best

Quantity vs. Quality? There is a reason that phrase was coined.

Personal note blog post. Just sharing.

I met with several different solar companies over the last few years, 2 in particular in the last month. I did a preliminary sign on the dotted line with one of the really big ones. They came out and did their 'site survey' and then sent me the final contract for signature in an e-mail that said simply 'sign here'.

Not review, ask questions, make changes....and then sign here.

Just Sign Here.....

But, I Didn't Just Sign......

This company was all over me in the beginning, 3 different reps contacting me a couple times a week to answer any questions. One in particular I had two phone conversations with and told them I had many questions that I was not comfortable with verbal answers.

I do read contracts for a living after all...verbal Real Estate is no better than verbal Solar purchase.

Could I send you a list of e-mailed questions?, I asked. She said absolutely......that was 2.5 weeks ago. No response at all, no call...well 2 hang-ups from them with no messages this week, but no answer to my e-mailed questions.

My thoughts? They didn't like my questions, could not make the necessary changes to gain my business and they were used to people just signing when sent the message 'sign here'.

So, on a fluke the one young man that I felt very confident in his ability sent me a follow-up. He knew I was planning on going with the big-dog company but his professionalism & follow-up skills made him reach out to me again.

I met with he and his associate yesterday afternoon. He answered all my questions, I read the entire contract, asked 3 more questions....which he immediately answered.....I mean, really, immediately! 

He did mention that I asked more questions than anyone yet. Yes, they were used to people just signing on the dotted line as well. Ah-mazing!

At any rate, I have my site survey scheduled for tomorrow. I've reduced the BIG system the BIG company wanted me to go with. I've had every single questions answered in a timely manner. I've had constant communication.

We'll see what happens after install! But, I'm not really worried....I do have the warranty phone number, e-mail,  & website! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Home Loan Rates Today September 15, 2015

SPOILER ALERT ~ Just because a lender quotes a rate doesn't mean YOU'RE going to get that rate.

So many things to consider when shopping home loan rates. If you've got stellar credit, low debt, no derogatory marks on your FICO scoring....You Rock! And, you'll get great rates. However, if not, keep in mind.....not all rate quotes are as they appear until the lender investigates your credit history.

Today's rates come via a Santa Clarita Valley lender ~

  • 30 year fixed conventional loan 20% down - 3.875% (3.948APR) - You can get a 30 year conventional loan with as little as 3% down up to $417,000.00!
  • 15 year fixed conventional loan 20% down - 3.250% (3.376APR) - You can get a 15 year conventional loan with as little as 5% down up to $417,000.00!
  • 30 Year fixed FHA loan 3.5% down - 3.625% (4.723APR) - You can get an FHA loan with 3.5% down up to $625,500.00
  • 30 year fixed VA loan 0 down - 3.750% (3.952APR) - VA Loans are 0 down up to $625,500 in LA County and a Veteran can get a VA loan up to $1,000,000.00 with about 9% down.
All of the above are based on a $400,000.00 loan amount and a 740 credit score (see I told ya!). Loan rates are 0 point loans!  Rates are subject to change without notice.  More money down could reduce interest rates and lower scores will likely increase interest rates.   

  • 30 year Jumbo over $625,501.00 - $3,000,000.00 - 25% down - 4.000% (4.075 APR) - 

Friday, September 11, 2015

But Will The DOJ Be Able To Collect Restitution I Ask?

So, the Department of Justice finally passed a memo around yesterday that they would go after the individual mortgage lenders/brokers for their hand in the housing/mortgage melt down of 2008.

It's about freaking time! 

The big banks paid out HUGE moneys for their part in it, but let's face it....there were plenty of unscrupulous lenders that were not guiding their borrowers in their fiduciary duty way! I love that....Fiduciary Duty. I explain to my clients when they are signing my Agency Disclosure.

Definition You Ask? A fiduciary duty is a legal duty to act solely in another party's interest. In Another Party's Interest. Not in your own, not in your pocketbook, not in your goal-setting board! 

So, they will go after the individuals, they will be looking for civil & criminal activity. They will....they will....they will what? What will they do?

I have to presume that quite a few of those lenders are no longer in the biz. If they are, they will likely be reprimanded, assessed a fee, watched over.

But, if they are assessed a fee, how much? Will the DOJ be able to collect enough to make the mess go away?

No, they of course won't. BUT, they must do this to show the general public that they care. That they know others are to blame and that they care enough to make it, hopefully, not happen again. People have to be held accountable for their actions. Kudo's to the DOJ for finally going for it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bye-Bye Beige?

I just finished reading every bit of info on our market. Stuff from DSN, U.S. Housing/Finance, L.A.Times, Realtor.Org....where I found the best one.

Gray is now getting called the most popular color....well for the last 2 years......for home interiors.

I have preferred the warmer colors for years. But, I'm loving the different (or 50) shades of gray I'm seeing.

Started with a light gray, most recently one of my clients did a very dark gray accent wall.

I'm looking at changing our walls in the near future and flooring and drapes.....it is a snowball effect, right?

So, although I don't think I'd do an entire room the dark one, I'm loving the idea of an accent wall or two. And, since most of my furniture is in the brown tones, I've got to be careful to make sure whatever color I pick blends with my existing furniture....or that snowball is going to get HUGE!!

Which color, or colors do you like best?

Friday, September 4, 2015

And Another Client Asks "What Do You Think?"

It happens every day, every time I'm out with a client. Well, once in a blue moon it doesn't. But, my experience and knowledge are so much vaster than the clients, they do ask what I think about one of their very important decisions.

Last night, out with my newlyweds and we are in a section of town they are not familiar with. Gorgeous backyard, Ah-mazing kitchen, pretty good floor plan, some nice upgrades too.

I've taken them almost everywhere in Santa Clarita. A couple of neighborhoods not yet, but I may add those if they fall into their price range.

But last night they asked me the infamous question. "What do you think Lauren?" 

The husband was surprised I hadn't voiced an opinion prior to scheduling the appointment to see this home! He knows me fairly well. We've worked together before.

So, I told them. Not so much my opinion on this one, but my experience. I've been selling homes in and out of Santa Clarita Valley for over a dozen years. I've sold a lot of homes, a lot! And, the majority of my buyers like particular areas better than others.  It's just the way it is.

The area they were looking in is newer, freeway friendly, lots of lovely homes. Not gonna kid you. It's one of the prettiest sections of that part of SCV....and it's not even technically SCV.

And yet still, I had to inform them of my experience.

Now, I tell them, it's a personal choice. But, since I always educate about re-sale, I must share my experiences with them and then allow them to make the final decision.

But, the infamous.....Location, Location, Location......it has stuck for a reason. You can always change the home you buy to be more your taste. Add a few upgrades, put in a pool. But, unless you are selling.....that location remains where it is.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

So Many Realtors Out There!

Every day checking the MLS. once, twice, three or more times. Once in a while I see that someone I know has listed their home with another Realtor.

It happens.

Back in the day this was my reaction :

Now, it's more like 'Oh, at least it's a good agent'. Well, frequently I can say that. 

Fortunately the one I spotted yesterday is with a good agent. Well, not as good as me, but that agents' pretty good.

The worst is when I see it listed with a crappy agent. One that doesn't deserve to get paid. One that I know it's going to be a sloppy transaction.

But, it is what it is. I do well with the business I've developed in the last 13 years. I work very hard for my clients. The ones that have worked with me realize the difference I can make in their life.

Nothing really much more than an observational post today. There are a lot of us out there. But, there aren't as many good ones as there are sub-standard ones.

Just sayin.

Friday, August 28, 2015

An Awesome 'Hide Your Flat Screen TV' Idea!

I'm showing homes all the time, right? YES! So, I see trends in decorating, right? Oh Yeah!

This week I saw the neatest looking flat screen TV cabinet....mounted on the wall!

We are seeing so many large flat screen TV's above the fireplace, true? But, I'd never seen one of these before and neither had my clients!

This is just like the one we saw. Above the fireplace. Curiosity peaked and we opened it up to find the television mounted behind it. LOVE THIS! 

So, thinking we had found something totally new, I Googled it. Guess what? There are all kinds of them out there!

I think it's such a wonderful idea. Makes a family room with TV very quickly turn into a more formal living room for guests that aren't watching the boob tube.

Love, love, love it! What say you?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What's Housing Inventory Like In Santa Clarita?

Inventory standing pretty firm at mid 700's for the last few months.

Twice as much as a few years ago, but still less than a 'normal' market.

My search, if you're reading me for the first time, includes Acton to the East, Castaic to the North, Stevenson Ranch to the West, and Newhall to the South. Detached and Attached homes.

Currently we have 759 ACTIVE listings.

616 are showing up as in contract. Pending, or supposedly taking Back-Up offers (feel free to ask me about that designation). 116 of those are distressed properties.

Sold in the last 30 days you ask? 384. That's a bit of a bump from the last few months. I'll take it! Oh, and only 26 of those were distressed sales.

Any questions about home values, loans, where the market is going?
Just ask.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What Agent Ever Said They Were Happy To Only Have 3 In Escrow?

I did! One of my clients asked me today if I was relaxed. I said yes. A resounding yes. About 5 weeks ago I had 7 properties in escrow at one time.

To some of the bigger, team oriented, agents they have that regularly. For me, it was a lot. A lot of coordinating, nagging, reminding, checking off long To-Do lists.

Today I close another, that's 3 just this week, and I'll be down to 2 in escrow.

I love what I do. Absolutely love helping people with their home sales and purchases. One thing about Real Estate that everyone says? It's either Feast or Famine.

Fortunately it's never been famine for me, but sometimes it sure is a bit of feast craziness!

Today, I am relishing the few minutes of quiet I have. But, wait, I've got to make sure that one gets funded. Oh, and this one sends over the closing statement. And, that seller lets me show their home. This prospective seller gets their docs to review. That buyer gets their inspection report.

LOLOL. All in the life of a Real Estate agent! Phew again! Next!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Ya Gotta Pack It Anyways!

I really should have a button, that I push play, and the words come out of my mouth automatically when talking to a prospective seller!

I meet with sellers regularly, obviously. When first meeting we discuss price, how the listing and sale process works....and of course...prepping their home for sale.

Some clients it's a huge list of what to do. Some, it's de-cluttering. Some.....and those are nice, they are ready when I walk in the door! I usually wink at them and ask 'Did you do this for me?'!!

All of them, when suggesting any pre-marketing needs, I tell them 'You have to pack it anyways!'

And that, yes that, they always understand!

A home definitely shows better when there is less clutter. Small rooms show bigger. Show cleaner. They just show nicer. 

The hardest part is when a lot of the items I suggest get cleared out they use on a daily basis. Then I remind them that there are definitely items NOT used on a daily basis that can be packed away and those daily items can then be stashed away during photography shoot and buyer viewings.

All makes more sense. But still, the biggest thing I remind people is that a lot of items they have in their home can be packed neatly in boxes. This will create a lot less stress when we open escrow and they are panicking about having time to pack and move. With my previous suggestion, they are partially packed already. 

Win-Win situation!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When Someone Is Being Nice, or Are They Are Full of BS?

Some sales are just significantly harder than others. I know, I've bee-atched about this before. Honestly, I always believe it's the other agents fault when a deal doesn't go smoothly.

If that agent is educating their client correctly, it makes a big difference.

So, do an inspection, all is friendly. Buyers and sellers chatting during the inspection, the sellers both say that they don't want the living room throw rug and will leave it for buyer. You presume they are being honest, being generous, being nice.....right?

No reason to add personal property, offered for free, in a Real Estate Purchase Agreement.....you think.

Well, we sure hope so. A lot has gone to crap since then. Agent and his assistant have gone incognito for days at a time. Things weren't disclosed properly. HOA's didn't approve of work done in back yard.

We worked through it, but it was like pulling teeth to get things done!

We are due to close escrow on Thursday. Walk through yesterday....several things need to be addressed prior to closing. We notice that purty rug is rolled up like it's ready to go. We tuck it in the corner. Buyer has the sellers phone number and she pops him a text letting him know we tucked it in the corner so it doesn't accidentally get taken by the movers and thank you so much for leaving it.

No response at all. Zero, zilch, zip, nada.

So, was that BS, are we misunderstanding, did they change their mind? Unfortunately for my buyer and myself....we're thinking this is total BS. Unfortunately....total BS. We shall see on Thursday!

Friday, August 7, 2015

When Are Interest Rates Going Up?

Who the heck knows! Reading again this morning about the Feds, unemployment, interest rates.

Everything shows we should see a hike in home loan rates due to the way our economy is apparently recovering. But, we are still amazingly low and have been low for a very long time.

However, if rates go up housing prices appreciation will cool down a bit. I don't think our pricing is out of control. We have increased inventory in my market area, so that's helping keep it somewhat at bay.

I can only say, that if rates go up, home prices are still going to go up. Maybe a tad slower, but still go up.

Ask your favorite lender to do the math for you. 

How much your home will cost at current rates,
 vs. how much it may cost with a 1/2 % or 1 % increase in interest.
Then, you decide what gamble is worth taking.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Millennials Are Cutting Corners to Save For Home

Well this was one of the most interesting articles read today!

These little children of ours, the 24-34 year olds, are acting like us when it comes to buying their first home. LOVE IT!!!

Survey done says that 65% of them will forgo modern conveniences to save for a down payment. Give up the internet, cable TV, Starbucks, and even cell phones! WOW! No Starbucks? Love it again!

Interesting too is that 75% of them would prefer to use a traditional bank vs. a mortgage broker. Talking about taking after their elder parents and grandparents. Wow.

They also said they would pay more for efficiency in the mortgage process. Would avoid the online lenders....even though the Millennials are so internet savvy. Smart kids!

But grab this, while they are single they love the urban lifestyle, right? However the survey noted that about 70% of those polled would rather live in the suburbs!

Those Millennials are turning out to be a very bright bunch!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Copy in Your TC? Is That MY Job?

It's a bit of a complaint post today. So, if you don't want to read my annoyance, stop reading now.

I had a Transaction Coordinator (aka TC) at some point in my career. She went to go work full-time and I decided I didn't need that luxury item any longer. Not that I wouldn't like it, but I stay on top of stuff so much that I'd be staying on top of them too & that's not something I want in my life.

But, other agents are forced by their company to use a TC, and others just have huge amounts of work that they must have a TC. Well, they appear to have huge amounts of work. I can't be certain.

Every once in a while I end up in a transaction with an agent that says "Please copy my TC in on everything". Um, I can't remember who has a TC, who that TC may be, and don't feel it's my responsibility to make sure that TC gets everything.

Or I get a TC that says please send something to them on a particular file that I've already sent to the Agent, who's getting paid, on that sale.

Hmmmm. So, I kinda put my foot down a bit today. Softly, but did. I ask the agent representing the buyer 'Where's the executed disclosures?' She asks me to text her TC.

Really? Um, no.

So, I very politely say I'm too busy to keep track of your TC. I'll let you follow up on that. And, she, of course, says she will.

If you've got a TC, it's your job to make sure they do what they're supposed to do, not mine. I've got my own job to do. I am not getting paid to do yours, nor your TC's.