Nevada City Virtual Tour

Monday, December 20, 2010

You Gotta Have Patience When Looking for and Buying Rental Property

Do your homework and find a reputable agent or broker.
Taking the time to find a reputable real estate agent or broker before you begin searching for a rental property is crucial. The agent or broker that you ultimately choose to work with should know the neighborhood(s) where you are interested in buying, in addition to helping you choose properties that fit your needs.

Make sure your finances are organized.
Going through your finances and making sure everything is in order is a crucial part of the purchasing process that shouldn’t be overlooked. If there is any chance that you will be taking out a mortgage in order to finance your rental property, it is important to do your research early to make sure there are no discrepancies on your credit report. If you find that your credit report is inaccurate, report it immediately so you can get the problem resolved quickly.

Set a maximum amount you can afford to pay.
Before you even begin looking at properties, you should carefully examine your finances and your current situation to establish the maximum amount of money you can afford to spend. By not coming up with a number beforehand, it is easy to get carried away and spend more money than you should have.

Schedule a home inspection.
Before you buy a rental property, be sure to call in a professional home inspector who will come and evaluate the home. Home inspectors will be able to tell you if the home is safe to live in, and if there are any problems that need to be addressed. This is a great way to avoid expensive repairs down the road.

Take a close look at the neighborhood.
Once you have found the property that will best suit your needs, be sure to take the time and get to know the neighborhood. It is usually a good idea to visit the neighborhood during the day and at night so you can get an accurate feel for what the area is like.

Stay up-to-date.
If you are looking to purchase a rental property in an area in which you aren’t familiar, you should do your homework and get to know the local real estate market. The agent or broker you are working with will be able to provide you with current information about the area as well.

Ask around.
These days, people are turning any situation into a networking opportunity, so be sure to take advantage of those around you when looking for a rental property. It doesn’t hurt to ask friends, family, business owners and individuals who live in the area whether there is anything available or if they know of anyone who may be leaving the area at some point. Initiating this dialogue will keep you top of mind when something does come along.

Don’t settle.
Just like you wouldn’t settle if you were in the process of buying your primary residence, it is important to treat the rental property search the same way. It may take a while to find the perfect rental location, so be patient with the process.

Ask for comparables.
Your agent or broker can provide you with information regarding comparable properties in the area. It is important to take notice of the rental income, sales price, square footage and other relevant information to be sure you are getting a good deal.

"The Christmas Card," filmed in Nevada City

"The Christmas Card," filmed in Nevada City, tells the story of a soldier, Cody Cullen, with no family who, while serving in Afghanistan, receives an anonymous holiday card that touches him deeply. While on leave back home, he travels to Nevada City, California, the picturesque town from which the card was sent. Once there, Cody meets and falls in love with beautiful Faith Spelman, who sent the card, and quickly becomes a cherished member of the Spelman family. Yet romance for Cody and Faith seems out of the question, because she has a boyfriend and is about to become engaged.

Screenwriter Joany Kane had never even heard of Nevada City when she wrote the screenplay for "The Christmas Card." The story was originally set in a mill town in Vermont. Budget constraints led the production team to look for sites in California, and one of the producers, Lincoln Lageson, suggested Nevada City. He was familiar with the town because his parents grew up in Nevada City. Alice Evans (who portrayed Faith in the movie) talks about Nevada City:

"But there is one that looks even better; so perfectly preserved and warm and welcoming that you have to pinch yourself the first time you take that walk up the hill towards the church, just to make sure it's real.

Well, this town turned out not only to be the perfect town, but to have the perfect inhabitants, who were delighted not only to welcome "The Christmas Card" to their town, but also to loan out their diner (Nevada City Classic Cafe), hotel, church and of course their people, who served as the most brilliant supporting artists all through the film."

"It was a match made in heaven," Kane said. "The city really is a character in the movie."

This December "The Christmas Card," the Hallmark Channel's highest-rated original film of all time, will show four more times on the following dates (Pacific Time):

*** be sure to check your local cable guide for the exact times***

2011 Showtimes found so far:
December 8, 10:00 p.m.
December 9, 4:00 p.m.

Nevada City and Grass Valley rentals rental homes

Nevada City and Grass Valley rentals rental homes

And this one too

Friday, December 17, 2010

5 Things To Do Now To Get Ready to Sell In 2011


1.  Minimize your holiday spending and save your cash. Instead of using the holiday sales to acquire a new winter wardrobe of cashmere sweaters, hold the discretionary spending down so you can give yourself the gift of homeownership!  If you are serious about buying a home next year, don't run up additional credit card debt on gifts this year. Instead, make homemade cards or write holiday letters this year for everyone except the kiddos.  And even for the kids, consider scaling back on the stuff, spending more of your time with them than your money, and getting started now saving toward your home purchase. (I don't think too many folks would argue that a less materialistic holiday season would hurt anyone, at any age.) 

Kickstart your 2011 homebuying resolution by starting a "Home" savings account at an high-interest, online bank (the discipline-boosting goal is a bank that isn't super easy to transfer funds out of when you run low on cash), and set up an automatic deposit into it every payday. To get specific about your savings goal, if you're cash-flush, obviously a 20% down payment will get you top notch interest rates and provide you with the maximum ability to manage your monthly payments. If you're going to be more of a bootstrapping buyer, an FHA loan might be right up your alley - they offer a down payment of 3.5% of the purchase price. 

All buyers should plan to have at least 3 percent of the purchase price saved up for closing costs, even if you want the seller to chip in.  The lower-priced the home you want to buy, the more percentage points you should be willing to chip in for closing costs.  It's easy for closing costs on an $150,000 FHA loan to run as high as $4,000 or more, considering transfer taxes, inspections, appraisals and mortgage insurance fees. So, even the scrappiest buyer should have a savings target somewhere around 6.5% of their target home's price.  To buy a $200,000 home, for example, that would mean a savings target of $13,000.

2.  Research financing, areas homes, prices, agents and online. Smart homebuying takes a lot of research and knowledge-gathering.  Since most buyers find it much harder to qualify for a mortgage than it is to find a home you'd love to live in, start with studying up on home financing and what it will take for you to get a home loan (note: FHA loans are preferred by the average homebuyer on today's market who has less than a 10% down payment, so start your research there). 

If you're considering relocating next year, now's the time to start narrowing down states, cities and even neighborhoods that may or may not work for you. Take into account the job market, housing and other costs of living, and income and property tax rates, as well as the critical lifestyle inputs that vary from state-to-state, like weather and whether the place is a personality fit for you and the life you want to live, be it urban sophisticate or outdoors adventurer. 

Also, start to develop a feel for home prices in a what-you-get-for-your-money type way, and start narrowing down the home styles and even neighborhoods that might fit your aesthetic preferences and lifestyle.  If you're one of those rare buyers-to-be who is not already obsessively house hunting, hop on Trulia and start regularly checking out homes and neighborhoods, making sure to take advantage of the neighborhood ratings and reviews feature, which empowers you to surface what other folks think and say about an area. 

3.  Rehab your credit, if you need to.  Go to and check out your credit reports - from all 3 bureaus - for free. (Note - these will not give you your credit score for free - that costs extra, but it will give you the actual detailed credit reports.)  Audit them for errors and do the work of disputing inaccuracies to have them corrected. Pay particular attention to: accounts that are not yours/you never opened, derogatory information that should have "aged off" your report by now (i.e., 7 years for late payments, 10 for bankruptcies) and balances or credit limits that are inaccurate (i.e., your credit card balance is listed at $2500, but you actually only owe $250.)  These are the errors most likely to foul up your financing, so follow the instructions each bureau provides to correct them, stat. While you're at it, don't close any accounts, even if you are able to pay some down or off .

4.  Run your numbers. In the past, some overextended homeowners complained that they felt pushed into a mortgage they couldn't afford. Pundits blamed that on the real estate and mortgage industry, but I have witnessed firsthand many a homebuyer push themselves or their spouses into buying too expensive of a home. Eliminate this issue entirely by doing this - run your own numbers, before you ever even talk to a salesperson or start looking at homes beyond your means. (I assure you, once you see the million dollar home you think you can afford, the $250,000 home you can actually afford will be underwhelming.)

Get your monthly finances in order, and get a clear read on how much your monthly bills are - outside of housing. Decide how much you can afford to spend every month for housing, when you buy your home.  Get clear on exactly how much cash you plan to have at hand to put into your transaction up front.  When, in the next step, you begin working with a mortgage broker, you'll want to share these numbers with them, early on in your conversation, to empower them to tell you what home price you can afford - not based on their rubrics, but based on what you say you want to spend every month and what you want to put down.

5.  Talk to a real estate and mortgage broker (1 of each).
Drop one (or a few) an email, letting them know you'd like to work on putting an action plan together for buying a home next year, and would like to talk with them about what action steps need to go on the list. Ask them to brief you on the timeline of a transaction in your local market, and to point out for you things like when along the process you'll need to bring money in, when you'll need to miss work and come into their office or the closing office, whether they offer conveniences like digital document signing, and generally the local standard practices about which buyers you'll need to know.  Depending on your target home purchase timeline, they might even want you to take a spin with them and look at a few properties to reality-check your expectations or narrow down a broad wish list. 

In addition to chatting with them about timing your purchase vis-à-vis your other life events and plans for the year, make sure to ask for referrals to a local, trustworthy mortgage broker or two - preferably one that has worked with them and closed a number of transactions with their clients.  (In fact, many busy real estate pros will want you to talk with their trusty mortgage partner before they get too involved in your planning process.  You may think you only need a month to get ready to buy, but once the mortgage folks weigh in, it might turn out that you actually need a few.)  When you do get in touch with the mortgage maven, if you're serious about buying, you will want them to actually pull your credit report, check the actual FICO scores that come up on their system and give you their professional recommendations for what final tweaks you can do to your debts to get your credit score where it needs to be.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Interest Rates Rise

Velocity of Money and how it affects you

If you’ve been watching the economic news, you’ve probably noticed that market experts and traders have been keeping a close eye on the Commerce Department’s Personal Spending and Personal Income reports. Obviously, those reports provide insight into the health of our economy, but did you know they also influence home loan rates? That’s right, personal spending can actually influence the interest rates that are available when you purchase or refinance a home.

Here's why. It has to do with something called the velocity of money. Even though the government keeps pumping money into the system, nothing happens until that money is spent or lent – and passes from one hand to another or one business to another. The speed at which this money passes between parties is called the velocity of money.

With the job market still very sluggish, consumers aren't spending much money these days, and businesses are still reluctant to spend money to make investments in their business. With the present velocity at low levels, inflation remains subdued and that's good for home loan rates. That's because rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds and inflation is the archenemy of Bonds, so low inflation is good for Bonds and rates. However, once velocity increases, the excess money in the system will cause inflation – which is bad for rates, since even the slightest scent of inflation can cause home loan rates to worsen.

While we certainly want to see better economic recovery news in the near future, we have to remember that there's an inverse relationship between good economic news and Bonds and home loan rates. Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, which helps Bonds and home loan rates improve. Strong economic news, on the other hand, normally has the opposite result.

Currently, home loan rates are at a historically low level, but that situation won’t last forever. That means now is an ideal time to purchase a home or refinance before the velocity of money – and rates – change. If you or anyone you know would like to learn more about the current economic situation and how to take advantage of historically low home loan rates, then please contact me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

nevada city grass valley foreclosures and their myths

Myth #1: Foreclosure happens fast. With unemployment and underemployment still affecting nearly 1 in every 4 Americans, no one is immune from fears that a pink slip might quickly turn into a foreclosure notice. According to NeighborWorks America, nearly 60 percent of families seeking foreclosure counseling cited a lost job or cut wages as the reason they were facing foreclosure.

While the Obama Administration's Home Affordable Programs haven't been nearly as effective as predicted in actually preventing foreclosures, they have had the effect of extending the foreclosure process for many families. Even though the legal process of foreclosure can happen in as few as 6 months in most states, it is currently taking much longer for the average foreclosure to get to completion. Recently, JP Morgan Chase revealed that their average borrower who loses a home to foreclosure has not made any payments in 14 months nationwide; 22 months in FLorida and 26 months in New York.

To be sure, some see this as a good, others view it as unnecessarily dragging out the overall market's recovery. Many insiders will point out that these delays in foreclosure may be calculated to save the banks the costs of owning and maintaining foreclosed homes, not to help homeowners. In any event, the fact that foreclosure does not happen nearly as fast, in many cases, as expected does give families who are temporarily down on their luck some extra time to try to get back on their feet and save their homes.

Myth #2: Buyers can’t get clear title or title insurance on foreclosed homes. When the foreclosure robo-signing scandal first hit, there was widespread concern that buyers would not be able to get clear title on foreclosed homes, because the former foreclosed owners might be able to come get their homes back when the improprieties in the bank's foreclosure documentation processes came fully to light. At the same time, several of the country's largest title insurance companies publicly balked at issuing policies on bank-owned homes until the issue was resolved. At this point, the banks claim they have revamped their processes, and all banks have stated that they have found not a single borrower whose home was repossessed without them having missed the requisite number of mortgage payments. Nevertheless, a number of governmental investigations are still in progress.

The fact is, buyers of bank-owned properties in nearly every jurisdiction are protected from later title attacks by foreclosed homeowners by the bona fide purchaser rule, under which courts would prefer to simply award cash damages to be paid by the culpable bank to a wrongfully foreclosed-on homeowner, rather than reversing the sale or ownership to the new, innocent buyer. Additionally, the title insurers have now changed their tune and restarted issuing insurance policies on bank-owned homes which protect buyers' interests, after working with the banks for them to take responsibility in the event a former homeowner prevails in a wrongful foreclosure suit.

While there are still many intricacies of title to be resolved for foreclosure buyers who purchase homes at trustee sales and auctions, or for cash buyers who often went without title insurance in the past, on the average, Trulia-listed, bank-owned property purchased with an average mortgage and title insurance, the chances a buyer's title will later be successfully challenged by the foreclosed homeowner on the basis of robo-signing? Exceedingly slim.

Myth #3: Buyers should wait for the shadow inventory to be released. Many a buyer, discouraged with the homes they see on the the form in their price range, has decided to sit still and wait for the banks to release for sale what is called their "shadow inventory" - rumored to be anywhere from 4 to nearly 6 million homes that have already been foreclosed, but not listed for sale, or will be foreclosed in the near future. The fact is, to the extent that the banks have acknowledged the existence of a pool of homes they own but are not selling, they have expressed that their reasoning for holding the homes off the market is to avoid flooding the market and driving home values down any further. For that reason, buyers should not expect to see a massive influx of these shadow homes onto the market anytime soon - if ever.

The banks' current modus operandi is that as they sell a home, the replace it with another home in that market - if they sell 50 homes in a town that month, they'll put another 50 on the next. So, don't hold your breath waiting for a fabulous new flood of homes. Instead, set up a Trulia alert to notify you when homes that fit your search criteria come on the market, and be ready to call your agent and go visit any and every one that looks like it might be a good fit.

Myth #4: If you’re looking for a deal, you’re looking for a foreclosure. Despite what they may say, no buyer’s heart's fondest desire is to buy a foreclosure. But almost every buyer dreams of buying a great home - and getting a great deal on it. Many people think that to get a great value on their home on today's market, it means they must buy a foreclosure. As a result, the value and other advantages of buying an individually-owned home on today's market are frequently overlooked. Individual sellers with homes on the market right now are generally quite motivated, and understand that their homes are competing with discounted short sales and foreclosed homes. Many of these sellers are slashing prices in an effort to get them sold - the most recent Trulia Price Reduction Report revealed that 27 percent of homes on the market across the country have had at least one price reduction. Now that's what I call a sale!

Further, individual owners are often much more negotiable on a wide range of contract terms than a bank which owns a foreclosed home. You can work with non-bank owners on things like repairs, closing dates, choice of escrow provider, closing costs and even included personal property much more flexibly than you can when the bank is on the other side of the bargaining table. On top of that, many individually-owned homes are in pristine, move-in condition; that is much rarer with foreclosures. So, don't underestimate the value of the deal you might be able to get on a non-foreclosed home. Just get clear on what you can afford and look at all the homes that are available in that price range, without discriminating against non-foreclosures.

Myth #5: Having a foreclosure on your credit history means it'll take years and years before you can buy again. One of the most Frequently Asked Questions in the Trulia Voices Community by homeowners who are facing or have just lost a home through foreclosure is how long it will take before they'll be able to buy again. Until recently, the standard wisdom was that 5 years, minimum, would have to have elapsed between the foreclosure and the new home purchase. Now, though, borrowers can obtain an FHA loan with the low, 3.5 minimum down payment requirement as soon as 3 years following a foreclosure. To do so, though, all your other ducks must be in a row.

Post-foreclosure buyers need a credit score of 620-640 to qualify for an FHA loan; higher for a non-FHA loan - given that the foreclosure itself usually dings anywhere from 100-150 points off the credit score (not necessarily counting a full year or more of pre-foreclosure missed payments), former homeowners who want to buy again need to ensure they have no other late payments or credit dings after they lose thier home. You must have clean credit with no derogatory marks like late credit card payments following the foreclosure, and you may also be required to document 12 to 24 months straight of on-time rent payments after the foreclosure.

Further, the bank may impose a lower debt-to-income ratio on post-foreclosure borrowers than on borrowers who have not had a foreclosure, in an effort to keep your mortgage payments low, keep you from overextending yourself and boost the chances you'll be a successful homeowner over the long-term this time around. The bank will also need to see 2 years of continuous employment history in the same field, and documentation that you meet other loan qualification requirements.

Courtesy of T r u l i a

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Downsizing? Here are some tips.

By J a c l y n B a n a s h

R I S M E D I A, October 6, 2010--(M C T)--It's a constant battle: Small versus big. Less or more? There are arguments to support both sides.

Having just downsized to the smallest apartment I have ever lived in, I was intrigued by the idea of small being the new big. The challenge of storage and saving space is usually the No. 1 problem for most small-home dwellers. Organization is key, as is making the space work for your lifestyle.

I have been racking my brain for months over how to make my new 656-square-foot apartment work best for me. I have found some great new ideas to integrate with some of my old tricks of the trade.

Creative use of furniture is essential in small spaces or even in larger spaces that might need to be multifunctional. Take, for instance, a guest bedroom that doubles as an office. Instead of crowding the room on a daily basis with a bed that only gets used a few times a year, why not use a sleeper sofa or a chair and a half with a twin sleeper sofa? This will free so much space for day-to-day activities in the office.

A daybed is another good-looking piece of furniture that multitasks. A daybed is a great way to divide a large space, but in a small space, if positioned against the wall, it doubles as a sofa with pillows across the back and an extra sleeping spot when the pillows are removed.

Lots of furniture pieces are known for their great multipurpose and space-saving qualities. The ever-popular pouf, for example, can double as an ottoman, become a small table for books, computers and drinks to rest upon or even turn into extra seating.

Nesting tables also provide options for tiny spaces because they are small and easily moved. Storage ottomans are an obvious choice for doubling as a bench or coffee table that can house toys, blankets and extra bedding.

In dining room/eating areas, a custom-built bench/banquette with storage underneath is a great option for tight spaces. If your budget does not allow for custom, then good-looking storage boxes fit nicely under most pre-made banquettes. If you are not looking for more storage but are just short on space, a breakfast nook can be created with a small table and stools that can tuck underneath when not in use.

Simply by pushing a dining table against a wall or window you can save at least three feet. All you have to do is pull the table out for dinner parties. And don't forget, an old or unattractive table can always be put to use and instantly jazzed up with a custom table skirt in a fabulous fabric. Voila, another spot for hidden storage!

One of my recent favorite small-space solutions is installing built-in top-to-bottom mirrors on the inset of closet doors. How brilliant! No longer are you taking up precious wall space in the room with a floor-length mirror.

As for the actual layout and decoration of a small space, conflicting theories abound. Some say not to fill a small room with over-scaled furniture, as it eats up the space and feels cramped. Others say big furniture makes a small room seem grander.

I gravitate toward the middle. In general, I stay away from large, overstuffed furniture and do find that too many small pieces can feel cluttered. But I need enough seating for entertaining and recently purchased a set of Lucite folding chairs (clear furniture is another small-space trick) that can be stowed when not in use.

I have never subscribed to pure minimalism, although I admire those who can. I find it almost impossible to not surround myself with lovely items that I find along my travels, antiquing or shopping. The key is rigorous editing. I have seen many small, successful spaces that have a plethora of mementos or objects d'art.

But once you get to a certain point, it becomes necessary to do the practice of one thing in, one thing out. After all, no matter what size your space is, you need the room to enjoy it.

(c) 2010, The K a n s a s C i t y S t a r.
Distributed by M c C l a t c h y-T r i b u ne Information Services.

If you would like to downsize please visit my site to see Nevada City and Grass Valley homes that might fit your needs.

Friday, September 3, 2010

5 Reasons Homeownership is better than Renting

5 Great Reasons Home ownership is way better than Renting

The seemingly endless run of bad housing news is discouraging some potential home buyers from considering a purchase. But the truth is that the advantages of home ownership have very little to do with investment gains. The best things about owning a home have a lot more to do with personal comfort and satisfaction.

Here are five of them:

· Be your own landlord. The bank can only kick you out if you don’t pay; a landlord can be much less dependable – deciding to sell the property or choosing to live there themselves.
· Paying the principal is forced savings. Yes, it’s possible that home prices will fall further. It is also possible that your 401(k) will lose value. But over the long haul, both are likely to enjoy modest gains in value.
· Fixed-rate mortgages never rise – and eventually you pay them off. With mortgage rates at record lows, people who buy now are locking in real bargains.
· Good schools. Family-sized rentals are harder to come by in areas with excellent public schools.
· Spacious properties in pleasant neighborhoods. Sizable homes in attractive communities are almost always owned – not rented.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Top 10 things NOT to do with your credit... least not while buying a house.

Top 10 things NOT
to do with your credit... least not while buying a house.

1. DON'T APPLY FOR NEW CREDIT. This includes those "You have been pre-approved" credit card invitations that you receive in the mail or online. Every time that you have your credit pulled by a potential creditor or lender, you lose points from your credit score immediately. Depending on the elements in your current credit report, you could lose anywhere from one to 20 points for one hard inquiry.

2. DON'T PAY OFF COLLECTIONS OR CHARGE OFFS. Unless you can negotiate a delete letter, paying collections will decrease the credit score immediately due to the date of last activity becoming recent. If you want to pay off old accounts, do it through escrow - at closing.

3. DON'T MAX OUT OR GO OVER THE LIMIT ON CREDIT CARDS. This is the fastest way to bring your scores down 50-100 points immediately. Try to keep your credit card balances below 30% of their available limit at ALL times during the loan process. If you decide to pay down balances, do it across the board. Meaning, pay balances to bring your balance to limit ratio to the same level on each card (i.e. all to 30% of the limit, or all to 40% etc.)

4. DON'T CONSOLIDATE YOUR DEBT. It seems like it would be the smart thing to do, however, when you consolidate all of your debt onto one card, it appears that you are maxed out on that card, and the system will penalize you as mentioned above in 3. If you want to save money on credit card interest rates, wait until after closing.

5. DON'T CLOSE CREDIT CARD ACCOUNTS. If you close a credit card account, you will lose available credit, and it will appear to the FICO that your debt ratio has gone up. Also, closing a card will affect other factors in the score such as length of credit history. If you HAVE to close a credit card account, do it after closing.

6. DON'T PAY LATE. Stay current on existing accounts. Under the new FICO scoring model, one 30-day late can cost you anywhere from 50-100 points, and points lost for late pays take several months if not years to recover.

7. DON'T ALLOW ANY ACCOUNTS TO RUN PAST DUE. Most cards offer a grace period, however, what they don't tell you is that once the due date passes, that account will show a past due amount on your credit report. Past due balances can also drop scores by 50+ points.

8. DON'T DISPUTE ANYTHING ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT. When you send a letter of dispute to the credit reporting agencies, a note is put onto your credit report. When the underwriter notices items in dispute, in many instances, they will not process the loan until the note is removed and new credit scores are pulled. Why? Because in some instances, credit scoring software will not consider items in dispute in the credit score - giving false data to the lender. If you have previously disputed accounts, contact the creditor and have the dispute lifted. If items appear on your report that you'd like to dispute, wait until after your loan closes.

9. DON'T DO ANYTHING THAT WILL CAUSE A RED FLAG TO BE RAISED BY THE SCORING SYSTEM. This would include adding new accounts, co-signing on a loan, changing your name or address with the bureaus. The less activity on your reports during the loan process, the better.

10. DON'T LOSE CONTACT WITH YOUR MORTGAGE & REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS. If you have a question about whether or not you should take a specific action that you believe may affect your credit reports or scores during the loan process, your mortgage or real estate professional may be able to supply you with the resources you need to avoid making mistakes that could drop your credit scores or possibly, cause you to lose the loan.

Monday, August 23, 2010

7 Tips for Selling Your Home

By S t e p h a n i e A n d r e

RISMEDIA, August 23, 2010—Since the housing boom ended and the market began to shift, the phrase “going back to basics” has been tossed around quite frequently. From the way agents handle their business to the way they communicate with clients, the phrase has gotten quite the workout.

But what about consumers? They were caught up in the housing boom as well…with homes selling in a day, sometimes a few hours. Getting back to basics seems like something simple that sellers should look at as well. It might just mean the difference between selling within a month and selling within a year.

Here are some basic tips from State Farm on selling a home:

Set your price carefully
Too high and buyers may not consider it, too low and you're selling yourself short. Agents often give a free home market analysis if you ask. This gives you an idea of how your home compares financially with similar, recently sold homes in your area. The analysis may also include how much you might expect to earn after closing.

Don't do major remodeling
Don't break the bank preparing your home for sale. Pricey items such as a new roof may be big hits with buyers, but rarely does the buying price end up covering the payout for such costly home improvements. When possible, stick with the simpler (and less expensive) options rather than major remodeling.

Make a good first impression
Curb appeal is important. Keep your lawn and other landscaping neatly trimmed, weeded and watered. Check the exterior of your home for signs of wear and damage, such as peeling paint, foundation cracks or loose shingles, and fix what is needed. Clean the outside of the house, including windows. Many people suggest giving the front door a fresh coat of paint for that warm, welcome feeling. In addition, adding a few flowers in the spring and summer, or keeping the walks cleared of leaves and snow in the fall and winter can be inviting to potential buyers.

The obvious seller's commandment: thou shalt clean. Remove all clutter from every room, including closets. Organize your basement and attic. Have a garage sale with all the stuff you don't want to move to your next home! Wipe down and paint walls and trim if necessary. Many people advocate repainting with a neutral color palette to appeal to a wider range of potential buyers. Clean all windows, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Bathrooms should always be squeaky clean. Inspect and make any necessary repairs to the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems. Highlight the bath and kitchen by selecting some attractive new towels, curtains or cabinetry knobs.

And keep it clean
Maintain the new and improved interior and exterior of your home until you successfully sell. It's hard, but it's necessary. A professional cleaning service may be able to help maintain the new clean look with occasional visits.

Light it up
When showing your house, provide plenty of light and make your home a warm, welcoming place. Open the curtains to let in the sunshine. In the event of an evening showing, make sure you have ample lighting available in all areas. Fresh cut flowers make a nice addition, and a pleasantly scented house is very inviting.

Go away
Many agents and potential buyers would prefer that the seller not be present during a showing, to avoid limiting the buyers' conversation or making them uncomfortable. Children and pets should also be absent or out of the buyers' way during a showing, if at all possible.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Buyers Find No Easy Sales in Distressed Homes

Buyers Find No Easy Sales in Distressed Homes

By D a v i d B r a c k e n

RISMEDIA, August 20, 2010--(MCT)--When Josh and Amanda Brandt began looking for their first house this year, they wanted what every buyer wants.

"What we really wanted was a good deal," Josh Brandt said.

The first house they found was in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. It was a short-sale, meaning the owner was trying to sell it for less than the amount owed to the bank. After the Brandts submitted a low-ball offer of $120,000, the owner of the house asked them to increase their offer to $129,000.

They did. Then they kept house-hunting because their real estate agent, Millicent Williams of Century 21 Vicki Berry Realty, warned them that they needed a back-up plan in case the bank rejected their offer or simply took too long to get back to them.

Three weeks later, just as the Brandts were about to close on a brand-new house in Angier, N.C., the bank accepted their offer.

"We got pretty lucky," said Josh Brandt, 24.

Among the byproducts of the housing bust has been a dramatic rise in the number of distressed homes on the market. Many buyers assume these properties are can't-miss deals, but the reality is that purchasing a distressed property is often fraught with uncertainty and risk.

The numbers of foreclosures and short-sales have increased as the act of losing one's home has lost the stigma it once carried.

"Foreclosures are actually getting artificially inflated to a point because people are willing to walk away," said Mike Golden, broker in charge with Century 21 Vicki Berry Realty. "Especially by people who don't have any equity because they bought in and got 100 percent financing."

Buying a house out of foreclosure or in a short-sale is not for everyone. Most of the homes will require some work, but unlike with a normal sale, negotiating repairs is often not an option, said Jeanna Reeves, a Re/Max United agent in Raleigh who has offered foreclosure tours for buyers in the past.

"They are sold as is," Reeves said.

Earlier this year, Reeves took one of her clients, Meg Lavoie, to look at a townhouse in North Raleigh that Fannie Mae had foreclosed on in February.

Lavoie is hoping to buy a foreclosed property that she can turn into a rental.

The North Raleigh townhouse had ratty carpeting, and it was clear the previous owner had owned a dog. Lavoie wasn't impressed.

"I don't want a big hole that I'm throwing money in," she said. "I don't know. It just doesn't speak to me."

Lavoie is in no hurry to buy, which makes a foreclosure or a short-sale a good fit.

Any buyer putting an offer on a house being sold as a short-sale should be willing to wait at least two months without knowing whether the bank will accept the offer, said Dave Jezierski, a real estate agent with Homes in the Triangle.

Jezierski said it's crucial that the agent listing the property is familiar with short-sales and knows what he or she is doing, otherwise the process can drag out even longer.

As for the perception that a buyer will be able to get a property for a huge discount in a short sale, Jezierski said that's largely not true.

When a bank agrees to sell a house in a short sale, it usually does its own appraisal.

Jezierski said the bank isn't likely to accept an offer that is significantly below what the appraisal says the house is worth.

"Unless the house is just pretty well trashed, it's going to be within 5 percent of market value," Jezierski said.

(c) 2010, The News & O bserver (Raleigh, N.C.).
Distributed by Mc Clatchy- Tr ibune Information Services.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

1031 Exchange Trends

There are a few trends that I've been noticing with our 1031 Exchange clients over the last 12-16 months that are worthy of comment. First of all, many investors seem to be trading out of large properties and acquiring single family residences. In fact, one of our recent clients just sold a large apartment building and acquired seven single family rentals. The motivation for the investor was simple, the single family rental properties produced a solid cash flow and the investor expected the SFR's to appreciate better over the long term. The other trend I've noticed is that many of our clients are doing just the opposite - taking advantage of the market dynamics to trade up. One of our clients recently sold his 2 unit property and acquired his first commercial building. It's interesting to see trends going in opposite directions, but it may be a simple fact that it's a lot easier to find value in today's real estate market. If you have any questions or would like to start a 1031 Exchange, please call me anytime at 877-311-GARY.

Monday, August 9, 2010

7 Short Sale Selling Mistakes

7 Short Sale Selling Mistakes

Why Some Short Sales Never Sell

By E l i z a b e t h W e i n t r a u b, Guide

Time is of the essence if you're considering a short sale.

Some short sale sellers are finding out the hard way that it's not easy to sell a home as a short sale. Short sales are a complicated process which, if not handled properly, can backfire and / or cause the sellers to lose their home through foreclosure proceedings.

Here are some of the common mistakes sellers make with short sales:

Short Sale Mistake #1: Priced Wrong

Some are too high, some are too low and some are priced just right. Short sales that sell are priced appropriately. The price should be attractive to the following parties:

* The Short Sale Bank
* The Buyer
* The Buyer's Agent
* The Seller
* The Buyer's Lender

Appealing to all five of these entities may seem impossible to do, but it is possible. There is an art to pricing a short sale.

Short Sale Mistake #2: Inexperienced Listing Agent

Particularly in falling markets, agents who have little business are attracted to short sales like moths to a flame. Sellers should find out how many short sales a proposed short sale listing agent has actually closed apart from the number of short sales the agent has listed.

If many of the agent's listings have been on the market for more than 90 days without an offer, something is seriously wrong. Agents who succeed in this business have a minimum of two years of experience negotiating with short sale banks.

Short Sale Mistake #3: Bad Marketing

Some agents believe pricing alone will sell a short sale, and they persuade sellers to place a ridiculous price tag on the home. Then the agent purposely refuses to adequately market the home. Not only does the price need to be reasonable, but the home deserves the same type of treatment as any other listing.

Short sales should be exposed to the widest possible pool of buyers, which means plastering that listing on all the major web sites, and includes doing direct mail marketing and networking.

Short Sale Mistake #4: Showing Restrictions

Buyer's agents, bless their overworked and tired hearts, will sometimes take the path of least resistance. If the listing requires an appointment, a buyer's agent might pass over that home in favor of a listing without appointment restrictions.

When a buyer's agent calls to announce a showing, the response should be, "Come on over. We're ready!" Short sale listings that restrict activity such as no showings on Sunday, for example, may never get shown at all.

Short Sale Mistake #5: No Photographs

Submitting a listing to MLS without multiple photographs -- or worse, no photograph at all -- is like slamming the door in the face of buyers. Buyers aren't likely to return. A listing with missing photographs sends messages that say nobody cares if the home sells and there's probably something wrong with it.

On some web sites such as, listings with the most photographs are ranked higher, and those without drop to the bottom.

Short Sale Mistake #6: Poor Property Condition

Short sale homes benefit greatly from home staging. Sellers need to prepare the home for sale and keep it in pristine condition. If beds are unmade, toys are scattered about and the kitchen sink is filled with dishes, buyers can't see past the mess. Moreover, some buyers are worried that if the home is in disarray during a showing, the sellers may trash it upon vacating.

Short Sale Mistake #7: Uncooperative Sellers

Sellers need to submit required documentation to the bank in a timely manner. If the package is incomplete, the bank won't process the file, and that will delay approval.

If a seller refuses to submit personal financial information and a reasonable hardship letter, the seller will not qualify for a short sale

FHA Launches Short Refi Opportunity for Underwater Homeowners

FHA Launches Short Refi Opportunity for Underwater Homeowners

RISMEDIA, August 9, 2010--In an effort to help responsible homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their property, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided details on the adjustment to its refinance program which was announced earlier this year that will enable lenders to provide additional refinancing options to homeowners who owe more than their home is worth. Starting September 7, 2010, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer certain ‘underwater’ non-FHA borrowers who are current on their existing mortgage and whose lenders agree to write off at least ten percent of the unpaid principal balance of the first mortgage, the opportunity to qualify for a new FHA-insured mortgage.

The FHA Short Refinance option is targeted to help people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth – or ‘underwater’ – because their local markets saw large declines in home values. Originally announced in March, these changes and other programs that have been put in place will help the Administration meet its goal of stabilizing housing markets by offering a second chance to up to 3 to 4 million struggling homeowners through the end of 2012.

“We’re throwing a life line out to those families who are current on their mortgage and are experiencing financial hardships because property values in their community have declined,” said FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. “This is another tool to help overcome the negative equity problem facing many responsible homeowners who are looking to refinance into a safer, more secure mortgage product.”

FHA published a mortgagee letter to provide guidance to lenders on how to implement this new enhancement. Participation in FHA’s refinance program is voluntary and requires the consent of all lien holders. To be eligible for a new loan, the homeowner must owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth and be current on their existing mortgage. The homeowner must qualify for the new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements and have a credit score equal to or greater than 500. The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence. And the borrower’s existing first lien holder must agree to write off at least 10% of their unpaid principal balance, bringing that borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio to no greater than 115%.

In addition, the existing loan to be refinanced must not be an FHA-insured loan, and the refinanced FHA-insured first mortgage must have a loan-to-value ratio of no more than 97.75 percent. Interested homeowners should contact their lenders to determine if they are eligible and whether the lender agrees the write down a portion of the unpaid principal.

To facilitate the refinancing of new FHA-insured loans under this program, the U.S. Department of Treasury will provide incentives to existing second lien holders who agree to full or partial extinguishment of the liens. To be eligible, servicers must execute a Servicer Participation Agreement (SPA) with Fannie Mae, in its capacity as financial agent for the United States, on or before October 3, 2010.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Top 10 Best Small Cities for 2010

Top 10 Best Small Cities for 2010
Money magazine has released its list of the best small cities in America. The list, which recognizes locales with great schools, safe neighborhoods, high employment rates, and low crime, is a coveted honor and one that can have a significant economic impact on a growing community.

This year’s top 10 winners are:

1. Eden Prairie, Minn.
2. Columbia/Ellicott City, Md.
3. Newton, Mass.
4. Bellevue, Wash.
5. McKinney, Texas
6. Fort Collins, Colo.
7. Overland Park, Kan.
8. Fishers, Ind.
9. Ames, Iowa
10. Rogers, Ark.

Source: Money Magazine (07/10/2010)

If you need to relocate, contact me, Gary Tippner.
I can help find you a great agent in any city with my premier agent connections.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mortgages Can Help Finances, Read on...

Mortgages Can Help Finances, Read on...

By D a n S e r r a

R IS MEDIA, July 10, 2010--(MCT)--While most financial-savvy consumers do their best to avoid debt, one debt that is unavoidable to many families is a mortgage. Because many of us feel more in control of our home and expenses without a mortgage, a common question is whether to pay it off as quickly as possible.

The answer depends on each person's financial situation. A mortgage can actually be a blessing to some.

For example, mortgage interest is tax-deductible. This deduction saves taxpayers about $103 billion a year, according to the U.S. Treasury. The benefit is less to owners of low- to moderate-valued homes who may not have much interest or enough to claim it by itemizing deductions. But for families with a higher net worth, it allows a tax savings and may encourage them to buy larger homes.

With tax brackets for the wealthy rising next year, this tax break becomes more valuable. When the break is included, a 6 percent mortgage could have a rate closer to 4 percent in reality. Calculate your mortgage's effective rate by subtracting your tax rate from 100 and multiplying that number by the interest rate. For example, a 28 percent tax bracket with a 6 percent mortgage would result in (.06 x 72) to equal the equivalent of a 4.32 percent mortgage rate after considering tax savings if itemized. That helps the interest look less daunting.

In addition, with the possibility of investing with a goal of a 5 or 6 percent return, instead of putting that money into a mortgage the homeowner could get a return higher than the effective rate, which could help grow net worth. On the other hand, if the effective rate is higher, it may make sense to pay down the mortgage.

Another situation that makes paying off a mortgage attractive is for someone at risk of bankruptcy. Many states offer protection from creditors seizing a home to pay debts. If a home is paid in full, it is more likely the owner could stay in it if he goes broke, providing he can pay for the upkeep.

Money taken out for a mortgage also could reduce net worth later in life. The potential for higher investment returns are gone; that money will not be able to grow if investments grow over the long term. Not to mention having too much invested in a house. That could be detrimental at retirement. While we can get a loan for a house, there are no loans to finance retirement.

(c) 2010, M cClatchy-Tr ibune Information Services.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grass Valley Foreclosures

Grass Valley Foreclosures

Example (as of 7/7/2010)
VERY NICE 3/2 almost 1300SF on 2 acres with pond off Rattlesnake. Completely cleaned up and painted and nice newer carpet - only $185K !!!!

Give me a call at 1-877-311-GARY or email me about this deal.
There are more I have weeded out. Contact me today!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Short Sale Myths

Short Sale Myths

RISMEDIA, May 22, 2010—With short sales making up almost 35% of home sales in March and the country with a national foreclosure problem, I Short Sale, Inc., one of the largest short sale firms in the U.S., sets the record straight on common short sale myths.

1. You must be default on your mortgage to negotiate a short sale. Short sales are not a function of default status on a mortgage. They are the result of the bank mitigating a potential default situation that, in the long run, will cost more money to the investors. We have completed many short sales in instances when the borrower was not in a default situation.

2. Listing my home as a short sale is embarrassing. Anytime we get ourselves into a tough financial situation it can cause some embarrassing feelings. It is important to remember that those feelings will not help us get back onto stable financial ground. We need to overcome our feelings and do what is right to protect our financial futures.

3. Buyers aren't interested in short sale properties. Short Sale properties are often times available at a competitive price to other properties on the market. In many cases, short sale properties are very well cared for and have not had to endure the deferred maintenance of a REO property. Short Sale properties are in great demand in the marketplace.

4. There's not enough time to negotiate a short sale before foreclosure. A good negotiator takes into account the timeline affiliated with a foreclosure. There is always a chance that a short sale can be negotiated. However, the only way to know for sure is to try.

5. The bank would rather foreclose than complete a short sale. Banks do not want to foreclose on property. It is expensive and carries a high level of liability once the bank owns that property as an REO. Wherever possible, banks are seeking other loss mitigation options before foreclosure.

6. Short sales are impossible and never get approved. Short sales are complicated, but not impossible. We negotiate short sale approvals every day.

10 Important Tips to Successful Real Estate Investing

10 Important Tips to Successful Real Estate Investing

By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, May 26, 2010--When it comes to investing, everybody has certain goals and aspirations. However, we have found that there are certain guidelines every aspiring real estate investor needs to know:

1. Compare property values and rents
Financial statistics only go so far; the best measure of a property's market value is often the sale prices of nearby properties. The same holds true for area rents. A low price can often be justified by a reasonable rent; renters who can afford a high rent can afford to buy instead, so reasonably priced rent is a must.

2. Pay attention to tax laws
Don't base your tax investment on current tax laws. The tax code is constantly changing, and a good investment is a good investment regardless of the tax code. The right property with the right financing is what you should look for as an investor.

3. Specialize in something you know
Start in a market segment you know. Whether you focus on fixer-uppers, foreclosures, starter homes, low-down payment properties, condominiums, or small apartment buildings, you'll benefit from experience by specializing in one aspect of investment real estate properties.

4. Know the costs before getting started
Know the financial statements inside out. What are operating expenses? What are loan payments? Vacancy costs? Taxes? What does the cash flow statement look like? These are key issues that must be addressed before making a solid investment.

5. Know where your tenants are coming from
If the last rent increase was recent, your tenants may be considering a move. If tenants have a short-term lease, they may be living there simply to attract unsuspecting buyers. It is also important to collect the tenants' security deposits at closing.

6. Assess the tax situation
Taxes are an integral part of successful real estate investing, and they often make the difference between a positive cash flow and a negative one. Know the tax situation, and see how it can be manipulated to your advantage. It may be a good idea to consult a tax advisor.

7. Investigate insurance coverage
If a seller's coverage is based on lower-than-current replacement value, your insurance cost may increase when you pay a higher purchase price.

8. Confirm utility costs
Ask the local utilities to verify recent utility expenses, especially if any of these costs are included in your tenant's rent.

9. Consult your accountant
Taxation is a key element of successful real estate investing, so be sure to find an accountant who is well-versed with the constantly evolving tax code.

10. Inspect
Make sure that you always perform a thorough inspection of the property before buying it. Never, ever buy any property without at least examining the site. In some cases, hiring professional inspectors to examine the structural mechanical system may be a sound investment.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Home Price Index Shows April Year-Over-Year and Month-Over-Month Increase

CoreLogic Home Price Index Shows April Year-Over-Year and Month-Over-Month Increase

RISMEDIA, June 22, 2010--CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), a leading provider of information, analytics and business services, today released its Home Price Index (HPI) which shows that annual home prices in the U.S. increased in April, the second consecutive monthly increase.

According to the CoreLogic HPI, national home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 2.6 percent in April 2010 compared to April 2009. This was an improvement over March's year-over-year price increase of 2.3 percent.* Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices increased in April 2010 by 2.2 percent; an improvement over the March non-distressed HPI which increased by 1.0 percent** year-over-year.

On a month-over-month basis, the national average home price index increased by 0.8 percent in April 2010 compared to March 2010, which was stronger than the previous one-month increase of 0.1 percent from February 2010 to March 2010.

"The monthly increase in the HPI shows the lingering effects of the homebuyer tax credit," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "We expect that we will see home prices remain strong through early summer, but in the second half of the year we expect price growth to soften and possibly decline moderately."

The full April 2010 report, including national, state-level, and top metro-level data can be found at

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gary J. Tippner Earns Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource Certification Title


Gary J. Tippner Earns NAR Short Sales and Foreclosure Certification
Buyers and Sellers Benefit from REALTOR® Expertise in Distressed Sales

Nevada City, CA — Gary J. Tippner with Network Real Estate has earned the nationally recognized Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification. The National Association of REALTORS® offers the SFR certification to REALTORS® who want to help both buyers and sellers navigate these complicated transactions, as demand for professional expertise with distressed sales grows.

According to a recent NAR survey, nearly one-third of all existing homes sold recently were either short sales or foreclosures. For many real estate professionals, short sales and foreclosures are the new “traditional” transaction. REALTORS® who have earned the SFR certification know how to help sellers maneuver the complexities of short sales as well as help buyers pursue short sale and foreclosure opportunities.

“As leading advocates for homeownership, REALTORS® believe that any family that loses its home to foreclosure is one family too many, but unfortunately, there are situations in which people just cannot afford to keep their homes, and a foreclosure or a short sale results,” said 2009 NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Foreclosures and short sales can offer opportunities for home buyers and benefit the larger community, as well, but it’s extremely important to have the help of a real estate professional like a REALTOR® who has earned the SFR certification for these kinds of purchases.”

The certification program includes training on how to qualify sellers for short sales, negotiate with lenders, protect buyers, and limit risk, and provides resources to help REALTORS® stay current on national and state-specific information as the market for these distressed properties evolves. To earn the SFR certification, REALTORSÃ’ are required to take one core course and three Webinars.

Contact Person Gary J. Tippner
Company Name Network Real Estate
Telephone Number 1-877-311-GARY
Email Address
Web site address

# # #

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Top Foreclosure Myths for Buyers

Top 10 Myths About Buying a Foreclosure and RealtyTrac recently surveyed US adults to get some insight into what people *think* is involved with buying a foreclosure.
By T a r a N e l s o n

Here are the Top 10 Myths that came up, and also the realities:

1. Foreclosures need a huge amount of work.
92 percent of consumers expressed that if they bought a foreclosure, they would be willing to make home improvements after they closed the deal, with 65 percent being willing to invest 20 percent or less of the purchase price. Although stories of foreclosures missing plumbing and every electrical fixture are very memorable, many foreclosed homes need only the (relatively inexpensive) cosmetics that many new homeowners want to customize no matter what kind of home they’re buying: paint, carpet, etc.

2. Foreclosures sell at massive discounts, compared to other homes.
Almost every member – 95 percent – of the surveyed group expected to pay less for a foreclosed home than for a similar, non-foreclosed home; 18 percent had realistic expectations of less than a 25 percent discount. However, 36 percent expected to receive a bargain basement discount of 50 percent or more off the value of a similar non-foreclosure. Reality check: while foreclosures might be discounted massively from what the former owner paid or owed, their discounts are much more modest when compared to their value on today’s market and the prices of similar homes.

3. Buying a foreclosure is risky.
49% of respondents said they perceived buying a foreclosure as risky. And yes - buying a foreclosure at the auction on the county courthouse steps can have risks, including the risk the new owner will take on the former’s owner’s liens and other loans. But most buyers looking for foreclosures are looking at bank-owned properties, which are listed on the open market with other, ‘regular’ homes. Buying these homes is really no more risky than buying a non-foreclosed home.

4. You can’t get inspections on the property when you buy a foreclosed home.
County auction foreclosures don’t often offer the ability for buyers to have the homes inspected. But virtually all bank-owned properties for sale on the open market not only allow, but encourage buyers to obtain every inspection they deem necessary. This is because almost every bank sells their foreclosed homes as-is, and they want to avoid later liability. It’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure that the buyer has full information about the property’s condition before they close the deal.

5. There are hidden costs to watch out for when buying a foreclosed home.
Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents who felt there is a negative stigma to buying a foreclosure expressed the concern that buying a foreclosure poses the danger of hidden costs. At some foreclosure auctions, there are buyer’s premiums and other hefty fees that can really add up and take a chunk out of the effective savings the buyer stood to realize. However, when you buy a bank-owned property that is listed for sale with a real estate agent, the closing costs are the same as they would be if you bought a non-foreclosed home. Overdue property taxes, HOA dues and other bills left behind by the defaulting homeowner are cleared by the bank that owns a foreclosed home before it is sold on the market, though these items should be watched out for if you buy a home at the county foreclosure auction.

6. Foreclosures are more likely to lose their value than “regular” homes.
Thirty-five percent of U.S. adults who believed there are downsides to buying foreclosed properties believed this myth. In fact, because foreclosures often offer a discount from the home’s current market value, they may offer some degree of insulation from further depreciation. Whether a home loses its value or not has to do with the dynamics of the local market, including the area’s supply of homes, demand for homes, interest rates and the health of the employment market – not with whether the home was or was not a foreclosure at the time it was purchased.

7. Most foreclosures happen when homeowners just walk away. Out of homeowners with a mortgage, only 1 percent said walking away from their home would be their first choice if they were unable to pay their mortgage. And a whopping 59 percent of mortgage-holders said they wouldn’t walk away from their home – no matter how upside down they were on their mortgage. Most foreclosures happen when the owners lose their jobs or their mortgage adjusts to the point where they absolutely cannot pay the mortgage, no matter how hard they try. Voluntary ‘walk-away’s are simply not as popular as many people think.

8. When you buy a foreclosure, you should lowball the bank – they are desperate to get these homes off their books.

Stories about in the press abound about the large numbers of foreclosed homes the banks have on their books. We’ve all heard the adage that banks have no interest in owning these properties. But the real deal is that they’re simply not desperate enough to give these places away. Also, the banks mostly service the defaulted loans – they don’t own them. Various groups of investors do, and they hold the banks accountable to selling the bank-owned property at as high a price as possible, helping them cut their losses. Many banks won’t even consider lowball offers, and many bank-owned properties actually sell for above the asking price. Before a bank will take a lowball offer, they will almost always reduce the list price first, and see if that attracts a higher offer than the lowball one they have in hand.

9. You need to be able to pay in cash in order to buy a foreclosure. Again, if you buy a foreclosed home on the county courthouse steps, you might need to bring a cashier’s check and be ready to pay for the place on the spot. By contrast, bank-owned homes are bought through a more normal real estate transaction, which means buyers can obtain a mortgage to finance the home just like they would if the home weren’t a foreclosure. It is true, though, that in some markets, banks prefer offers from cash buyers, but this tends to be in situations where the property’s condition is pretty dire, and the bank knows this may make it hard for a buyer to obtain financing.

10. It’s easier to buy a foreclosure with bad credit if you get a mortgage with the same bank that owns the property.

Think about it: why would the bank want to end up with the same property as a foreclosure, again? Well, that’s what would happen if they allowed buyers with low credit scores to buy their foreclosures just to earn the interest on the mortgage. In reality, many banks do offer incentives like lower fees or closing cost credits for buyers who use their bank for their mortgage. But the buyers must meet the same credit, income and other qualification standards as anyone else would to seal the deal.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Don't let it foreclose! Do a short sale

NEW YORK ( -- Short sales are the hottest thing going in the distressed-property market, and the trend is expected to get even hotter in coming weeks, when the government starts handing out cash to encourage lenders to close these deals.

"Banks have ramped up short sale approvals," said Duane Legate of House Buyer Network, which connects short sellers with buyers. "They're hiring a lot of the people who once worked in the mortgage-lending industry and moved them over to short sales."

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These transactions, where lenders allow homeowners to sell their houses for less than they owe, accounted for 17% of all residential real estate sales in February, up from nearly 13% in November, according to a monthly real estate market survey by Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance.

And Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), the country's largest mortgage servicer, has more than doubled the number of short sales it processed in recent months.

Elizabeth Weintraub, a Sacramento, Calif.-area real estate agent who handles many short sales, was amazed at how quickly a recent deal went through. "Bank of America approved it in 24 days," she said. "That flipped me out."

This is a huge change from even just six months ago when the short-sale market was stalled and most people would describe the process has real estate hell. Because lenders stand to lose so much on these transactions, they have been reluctant to make short sales happen, often waiting months before getting back to potential buyers.
Beware: You lost your house but still have to pay

"In the past, many short sales would never come to fruition and the ones that did averaged over half a year to complete," said Chris Saitta, CEO of Equator, which produces short sale software.

"Things would just fall into a black hole and not come out again," added Weintraub.

And even when banks did agree to the sale, the process could be further complicated if the original owner had a second mortgage.

In most cases, the first lender is repaid in full before any money flows to a second-lein holder. And because most distressed borrowers are severely underwater, there's usually nothing left to send on. As a result, second-lein holders are left holding the bag and have been killing many deals.

But that has been changing. For one thing, banks realize that they make out far better financially with a short sale than a foreclosure. "The lenders lose 50% on a foreclosure and only 30% on a short sale," said Glenn Kelman, founder of the real estate Web site Redfin. "And short sales offer a way to get distressed properties off their books quickly."

And on April 5, lenders and mortgage investors will have even more incentives to offer troubled borrowers short sales instead of foreclosing.

Under the new Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, borrowers will earn a $3,000 "relocation incentive" and servicers will get $1,500 for handling a short sale.

The investors who actually own the mortgage notes will get $2,000 in exchange for sharing proceeds of the short sales with any second-lien holders. And, finally, those second lien holders will receive up to $6,000 for releasing their claims.

Lenders participating in the program must also determine the market values of properties early on and inform the owners of just what price they're willing to accept. Then, if owners come back to the lenders with bonafide offers, they have to be accepted within 10 days.

Equator's Saiita anticipates a short sale explosion in response to the new program. "The challenge will be handling all the volume," he said.

The company has already tweaked its software, which 58 servicers use, to handle the new HAFA rules. And that should help reduce the time it takes to execute a sale, which currently averages 88 days.

The boom in short sales may accelerate the end to the foreclosure crisis by cleaning out the overhang of borrowers in distress and replacing them with more stable homeowners.

Plus, these sales are better for distressed borrowers because their credit scores suffer less. Going through a foreclosure can knock 200 points off a FICO score, twice as much as the penalty for a short sale.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Union Article on the Nevada City Google Internet Plan

Judging from the posts on the Web site, western Nevada County residents have no trouble understanding how an ultra-fast, one-gigabit-per-second Internet connection would change their community.

“We'd start a post-urban trend of high-tech rural living,” one site visitor wrote.

They wrote about video conferencing, telecommuting and the boon the speeds would be for social services and schools.

“What wouldn't we do with all that extra time we used to spend waiting for things to load!” another visitor wrote.

Momentum is building for a rally, march and party set to start at 1:00 p.m. Sunday in downtown Nevada City's Robinson Plaza. By Thursday afternoon, the group's Facebook page had 675 fans.

The march will be filmed and edited into a short YouTube video that will be part of a detailed application submitted to Google later this month. If Nevada County is selected, Google will test out the fiber technology that would allow Internet speeds 100 times faster than broadband through the Google Fiber for Communities project.

Already, an eclectic coalition is marching Sunday to show support. A fire truck, a peloton of cyclists and various clubs are planning on attending. Several bands and Grass Valley Taiko drummers will play at the pre-event rally and post-march party at the Miners Foundry.

“It seems like a real community effort,” said Nevada Chamber of Commerce Executive Manager Cathy Whittlesey, who is helping organize the march. “People say, ‘Wow, 100 times faster!'”

Organizer John Paul said his goal is helping people understand how powerful the technology can be. He'll be making a visual analogy at the rally to demonstrate the difference: If dial-up is like juggling ping-pong balls, Google fiber is like juggling beach balls 12 feet across.

That kind of technological leap is something people of all stripes can celebrate.

“One thing that unites our community is desire to have faster Internet,” said Paul, co-owner of high-speed provider Spiral Internet. He is based in Nevada City and has pushed for improved Internet access countywide.

“Having fast Internet is key, no matter where you stand religiously or politically,” Paul added.

Nevada County High Speed Internet Access

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Waiting to buy a home could cost you nearly $20,000 or more...

The Clock is Ticking!
Time is Running Out for Significant Savings!

The Clock is Ticking! - Time is Running Out for Significant Savings!

Attention home buyers! Waiting to buy a home could cost you nearly $20,000 or more over a seven-year period if you time your purchase incorrectly. While the actual impact will vary depending on purchase price, the impact will certainly be significant because of stimulus programs scheduled to end in the coming months.

Economic turmoil and the real estate bubble have created significant opportunity for all those seeking to capitalize on the situation at hand. YOU Magazine will address the real estate purchase market and what people interested in both buying and selling a home need to know this month to take advantage of the current market conditions.

We also consulted with Michael J. Maher of "The Maher Team," one of the busiest agents in the country who sold 216 homes in 2009. With a degree in mathematics, he knows his numbers and the impact on both buyers and sellers.

As little as a few years ago, it would have almost been incomprehensible to expect that actions from Washington would impact decisions involving the purchase and financing of real estate. Well, that was then and this is now and the decisions people make or don't make stand to impact wallets across the country.

Before You Buy – Things to Consider
The pressure is on to buy in the first quarter of 2010, so what should buyers focus on before pulling the trigger? Maher recommends that buyers focus on three things that are either expensive to fix later or unable to change without buying another home. His three primary areas to focus on are what he calls the three Ls: "Location, Lot and Layout."

When considering location, use technology like GoogleMaps™ before visiting a home to save both time and gas. Mapping allows you to view the property from different angles, see if the home is on a busy street, or if it offers the other requirements you need. For example, if you need a large yard where the kids or dogs can play, a tool like GoogleMaps™ will help you eliminate some homes immediately.

While it is relatively easy to get caught up in the aesthetics, don't do it. Overlook items you can change later like paint, carpet and other cosmetic details. Narrow your focus down to two or three homes and "all things being equal, focus on location, lot and layout."

Selling a Home?
If you are selling a home and want to make sure you can get it off the market for time crunched buyers, remember that today is what Maher calls a "price war beauty contest." Sellers need to be focused on having their home priced competitively and making it most appealing upon inspection. Sellers also should consider paying for a home warranty to alleviate any concerns cash-strapped buyers may have about paying for repairs after closing.

More than anything else for both buyers and sellers this year, Maher suggests that people not let the money savings opportunities pass them by. "Anyone that qualifies is in a no-lose situation – they are buying at the bottom of the market, economically, historically, seasonally, market-wise and interest rate-wise. The perfect storm has arrived and the pearls and treasures have floated to the surface."

Gifts from the Federal Reserve Are on the Clock

MBS Purchase Program
Mortgage rates have been artificially low the past fourteen months due to assistance from the Federal Reserve and their mortgage backed securities purchase program. Regardless of the expert, when asked what the impact has been to lowering rates, the range is from 0.50-1.00% or potentially more. The Federal Reserve reiterated in its January statement that they will be ending the program on March 31st.

While it is uncertain to what degree interest rates will immediately rise starting April 1st, the overwhelming trend will be higher. Many experts are predicting that rates will start to rise in advance of April 1st.

Tax Credit
Low mortgage rates are not the only stimulus program ending in less than three months. Credited for boosting a major share of home sales at entry level, first time home buyers have been taking advantage of a tax credit of up to $8,000 for over a year.

Repeat purchasers were also given incentive in November with the availability of up to $6,500 in post-closing cash. Tax credit qualifying buyers have until April 30th to get under contract and must close by June 30th. If home buyers miss either date, it will be a costly one.

HUD and the FHA Tighten Up
HUD announced in January that the upfront costs to obtain an FHA mortgage are going up for any applications received April 5th or later. The cost of the up-front mortgage insurance premium (MIP) will increase for all case numbers effective April 5th by 0.50%, from 1.75% to 2.25%.

What Waiting Will Cost You
The costs of missing out on the combined incentives add up quickly for those who fail to act by the deadlines. The first incentive scheduled to end will impact buyers on a monthly basis in the form of higher monthly payments. On a $200,000 mortgage, a 1.00% increase to interest rates could increase a monthly payment by $125 a month or $10,500 over a seven-year period. Obviously, the longer the loan remains in place, the greater the impact of the potential loss.

The second potential loss that will be incurred would be waiting to obtain a mortgage guaranteed by the FHA. In the same example of borrowing $200,000, the upfront cost would be an additional $1,000, or .50% of the amount borrowed. While this cost may be financed, the impact to a monthly payment would also be an increase of approximately $5 a month and have to be accounted for later upon the sale of the property.

Finally, the third potential cost in waiting will be the end of the tax credit for qualified buyers of a primary residence, up to $6,500 for repeat buyers and up to $8,000 for first time home buyers.

Add all this up and the cost of choosing to wait could run up to nearly $20,000 or more depending on the purchase price of a home and the type of mortgage applied for. So, even if someone believes that home prices may fall from where they are today, even with a modest decline in price, the cost of waiting could outstrip any benefit of finding a home for less.

What Now?
The first step for anyone in shopping for a home is to reach out to the professional who supplied you with this copy of YOU Magazine. Getting pre-approved and knowing what you can qualify for will minimize any stress from a financial perspective and let you focus your attention on finding the perfect home.

John "Red" Burke
Home Loan Expert
First Priority Financial

Monday, January 25, 2010

Welcome to the Nevada County Real Estate Center Blog!

Covering Nevada County Real Estate areas:

Bank Owned/Foreclosures
Short Sales
Grass Valley
Nevada City
Cedar Ridge
Alta Sierra
South County
Lake of the Pines
and most of Western Nevada County.

We will discuss hot properties that are felt to be a great value or are, well, really kewl looking.
Dealing with Foreclosure properties and Short Sales.
Investing in Nevada County Real Estate.
Victorians and Rustic homes that are on the market.
How to sell your home quickly in this market.
Rent vs. Buy.

And much more.

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