Nevada City Virtual Tour

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to get your home ready to sell in 2012

Study the local market. The most successful home sales are the listings that are priced right from day one. Ask any agent: even in the toughest markets, there are listings that sell quickly, mostly because the one-two punch of the property itself and how its price looks to buyers like if it's a very strong value.

In order to position yourself and your property at the point of pricing nirvana, you’ll need to do some leg work. Stat. You don’t need to pick an exact price this moment, unless you’re planning to list your home super soon, but you can get started on what I like to think of as the ‘thinking seller’s’ three-pronged approach to pricing now, by:

visiting open houses,
studying nearby listings, and
talking with an agent.

Before the year is up, try to visit a handful of open houses in your neighborhood. This will help you get a sense of the types of homes that are on the market, what condition they’re in, and how they are priced. Keep in mind that no home is going to be exactly like yours, but if it’s similar in size, location and features, then buyers that see that property will probably be the same buyers that come to see yours - and they will be comparing list prices.

Another great prep tool in gearing up to sell your home in 2012 is to study similar homes for sale on Trulia or Zillow! Pay particular attention to what features they have, how they are described and priced, any incentives the sellers are offering (e.g., closing cost credits, etc.) and how long they’ve been on the market. (Hint: you might not want to price your home right in line with one that’s been on the market over a year. Obviously, that home is overpriced, and that is NOT a result you want to replicate!)

Finally, one of the most efficient and nuanced ways to get to know your local market is to begin speaking with an agent who sell homes in your area. Ask these pros for their opinion on what you should list your home for, what recent sales they think are the most comparable (and why), and how long they would expect your sale to take given their experience and current conditions.

Get a head start on your ‘home' work. How much prep work your home needs really depends on its current condition. A good starting point for many sellers is to order an inspection. Most buyers will get their own inspection before closing a deal if some time has passed, but getting ahead of them with your own will help you avoid any unwanted surprises later on in the transaction. An inspection will give you a reality check on your home’s condition, enabling you to decide upfront whether it’s worth it to fix something now or simply reduce the price in consideration thereof.

(a) obtain any advance inspections your real estate agent recommends,
(b) have any reasonable repairs completed,
(c) pre-pack and declutter your place, and
(d) prettify your home’s curb appeal - painting the shutters and sprucing the landscaping goes a long way toward attracting buyers.

Please visit and contact Gary Tippner for help.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Homes Sales Data

Housing inventories fall to new four-year low in October
The number of homes listed for sale fell for the fifth straight month in October, hitting the lowest level in more than four years.

New-home sales edge higher nationwide
The Census Bureau reported an annual sales rate of 307,000 new homes last month, up 1.3 percent from a downwardly revised rate of 303,000 homes in September.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Second homes for retirement have pros and cons that need to be considered

If you have plans to buy a home at the beach, in the mountains or in the desert for your retirement years, you might be tempted to take the plunge and buy your future home now while interest rates and home prices are low.

Financial experts say buying your retirement home five to 10 years before you stop working could be beneficial. However, people in this age group should be aware of the risks of tying up money and perhaps losing flexibility with a second home purchase.

"While there's no denying that we have historically low interest rates and low home values right now, anyone considering buying a second home before they retire needs to run the numbers," says Kimberly Foss, president of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, Calif. "People get stars in their eyes sometimes at the prospect of retirement, but the reality is that they may not be."

Foss says she recommends clients max out their 401(k)s and make sure they have adequately insured their future before thinking about buying retirement homes.

"I recommend that people have 12 months' (worth) of expenses in the bank as an emergency fund," Foss says. "If they choose to buy another property, they will need extra money to cover those expenses, too."

For 50- and 60-somethings with plenty of discretionary income, buying a home with cash is an option. Others need financing.

There are three basic options for financing a home, says Patrick Cunningham, vice president
of Home Savings and Trust Mortgage in Fairfax, Va. 

The home can be financed as an owner-occupied home if the buyer lives in it as a primary residence, as a second home or as an investment.

"Second-home financing means that you will need to qualify to pay the mortgage on both your current home and your second home," Cunningham says. "If you need some additional income to qualify for the loan, you can rent the property, and a lender will use some of your rental income for a loan approval."

Cunningham suggests that financing a property as a second home rather than as an investment property is the better option because interest rates, qualification guidelines and down payment requirements are generally more lenient on second homes than on investments. He says an investment loan always requires a down payment of at least 20 percent or 25 percent.

People getting ready to retire might want to consider the benefit of buying homes before they stop working because a mortgage approval could be more difficult to obtain without an income.

"Conventional loans are written off your income, and you have to prove you have the means to repay the loan," Cunningham says.

Foss says one of the primary benefits of buying a home before retiring can be the generation of rental income.

"Income from a rental property can act as a hedge against the low interest rate environment we are in and against future inflation because you can raise the rent to offset inflation when it hits," Foss says.

Foss says if you can handle the expense and hassle of a rental property, this could be a good way to use the property before it becomes your primary retirement residence.

Charles Duck, president of Charles Duck Real Estate in Phoenix, says the pre-retirement buyers he works with are looking for bargain-priced luxury homes because they offer more certainty of future appreciation.

"Some people are deciding to buy now and leave the property empty for a while or to use a place as an occasional vacation home," Duck says. "Others decide to rent the property until they are ready to use it."

When choosing a home a few years before retirement, Duck says the first consideration should be the location.

"Many retirees want an urban-suburban location where they can walk to amenities and restaurants," Duck says.

Duck says this cohort of buyers should consider looking for low-maintenance houses with all the living spaces on one floor, so the future retirees can avoid climbing stairs.

Foss says if you are 10 years or more away from retirement, you may want to opt to rent a vacation home for a month at a time to avoid getting stuck with a permanent decision about your retirement destination.

"People change a lot between age 50 and 90, Foss says, "so I like the idea of keeping your options open and allowing for flexibility."

Mortgage rates inched up this week as the stock market rallied, but they remain near record lows. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

House prices are finally nearing a bottom? What other data shows

House prices are finally nearing a bottom

After falling nearly 35 percent from their 2007 peak, nationwide house prices are finally approaching “normal” levels on two key valuation measures: The “price-to-rent ratio,” which measures house prices relative to what the houses might rent for, and the “price-to-income-ratio,” which measures house prices relative to average incomes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Help with home down payments

Help with home down payments

With most lenders requiring borrowers to put down at least 20 percent as a down payment – unless using an FHA or VA loan, or purchasing mortgage insurance – the best holiday gift some people might receive would be help with a down payment on a house.

Making sense of the story
According to a survey by Trulia, the biggest barrier to buying a home these days is saving for the down payment. The survey, conducted over the summer, found that 51 percent of renters said coming up with money for the down payment was preventing them from buying, while 35 percent identified qualifying for a mortgage as the stumbling block.

Under federal tax law, each individual is permitted to give money or valuables worth up to $13,000 to a single recipient in a calendar year. A married couple could jointly bestow up to $26,000 a year per recipient.

According to one financial planner, there also is the option of lending a relative or close friend the money for the down payment, or the closing costs, then forgiving the loan in a future year. The recipient would have to pay interest on the loan until it was forgiven, at which point it would become a gift.

Another way to help with the down payment is to pay other expenses, such as tuition, thereby freeing up money to make a home purchase. Gifts for educational or medical expenses are not subject to taxes, as long as they are paid directly to the educational or medical institution.

However, prior to giving the money, gift-givers should consider their own financial picture, and they should make sure the recipient is responsible and not behind on other payments that could be subject to debt collection.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Market Will Take Five More Years to Adjust to Normal

Fannie Mae: Market Will Take Five More Years to Adjust

We are five years through a 10-year adjustment process, said Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan at the Five Star MPact Mortgage Conference and Expo Tuesday morning.

so, does this mean we are at the bottom?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another Real Estate Brokerage Gets Out of it

Prudential sells its real estate franchise business

Brookfield Residential Property Services -- the Canadian-based franchisor that provides services in the U.S. under the Real Living brand -- has acquired Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services for $110 million, the companies said.

10 Low-Cost Tips to Improve Your Home's Appeal

10 Low-Cost Tips to Improve Your Home's Appeal

By P a i g e T e p p i n g

RISMEDIA, August 10, 2010--When selling your home, the goal is to sell it quickly for the highest price while investing as little as possible in renovations. With a limited budget and a little effort, you can greatly increase your home's appeal by focusing on what prospective buyers can see on their first visit. The experts at offer the following recommendations for preparing a house for sale and staging it for showings.

Tip #1: Refresh the exterior
First impressions count when it comes to selling a home. Most buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the exterior appealing. The best ways to improve your home’s exterior include:
-Repairing and/or replacing trims, shutters, gutters, shingles, mailboxes, window screens, walkways and the driveway.
-Painting siding, trim and shutters and lamp and mailbox posts.
-Pressure washing vinyl siding, roofs, walkways and the driveway.
-Washing windows.

Tip #2: Spruce up the lawn and landscape
Home buyers associate the condition of your lawn and landscaping with the condition of your home’s interior. By improving the outside, you affect buyers’ impression of the entire property. The best ways to enhance the yard include:
-Mowing and edging the lawn.
-Seeding, fertilizing and weeding the lawn.
-Keeping up with regular lawn maintenance by frequent watering.
-Trimming and/or removing overgrown trees, shrubs and hedges.
-Weeding and mulching plant beds.
-Planting colorful seasonal flowers in existing plant beds.
-Removing trash, especially along fences and underneath hedges.
-Sweeping and weeding the street curb along your property.

Tip #3: Create an inviting entrance
The front door to your home should invite buyers to enter. The best ways to improve your entry include:
-Painting the front door in a glossy, cheerful color that complements the exterior.
-Cleaning, polishing and/or replacing the door knocker, locks and handles.
-Repairing and/or replacing the screen door, the doorbell, porch lights and house numbers.
-Placing a new welcome mat and a group of seasonal potted plants and flowers by the entry.

Tip #4: Reduce clutter and furniture
A buyer cannot envision living in your home without seeing it. A home filled with clutter or even too much furniture distracts buyers from seeing how they can utilize the space your home offers. If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider renting a temporary storage unit to place items you wish to keep. The best ways to declutter your home include:
-Holding a garage sale to prepare for your move, getting rid of unnecessary items.
-Removing clutter such as books, magazines, toys, tools, supplies and unused items from counter tops, open shelves, storage closets, the garage and basements.
-Storing out-of-season clothing and shoes out of sight to make bedroom closets seem roomier.
-Removing any visibly damaged furniture.
-Organizing bookshelves, closets, cabinets and pantries. Buyers will inspect everything.
-Putting away your personal photographs, unless they showcase the home. Let buyers see themselves in your home.
-De-personalize rooms as much as you can.

Tip #5: Clean, clean, clean
The cleanliness of your home also influences a buyer's perception of its condition. The appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms will play a considerable role in a buyer's decision process, so pay particular attention to these areas. The best ways to improve these areas include:
-Cleaning windows, fixtures, hardware, ceiling fans, vent covers and appliances.
-Cleaning carpets, area rugs and draperies.
-Cleaning inside the refrigerator, the stove and all cabinets.
-Removing stains from carpets, floors, counters, sinks, baths, tile, walls and grout.
-Eliminating house odors, especially if you have pets.
-Considering air fresheners or potpourri.

Tip #6: Make minor repairs
The small stuff does count, especially with first-time home buyers. Without dismissing the importance of repairing major items such as a leaky roof or plumbing, you do not need to spend money on replacing these items. Instead, focus on the minor repairs that will make your home visually appealing. The best ways to improve your home include:
-Repairing ceilings and wall cracks.
-Repairing faucets, banisters, handrails, cabinets, drawers, doors, floors and tile.
-Caulking and grouting tubs, showers, sinks and tile.
-Adding fresh paint to ceilings, walls, trim, doors and cabinets.
-Tightening door handles, drawer pulls, light switches and electrical plates.
-Lubricating door hinges and locks.

Tip #7: Showcase the kitchen
The heart of any home is the kitchen. If you are going to spend any money on renovations, this is the one area where you will see the greatest return. Even with a modest budget, focusing on a few key areas can make a great difference in getting the asking price for your property. The best ways to showcase the kitchen include:
-Replacing cabinet doors and hardware.
-Installing under-cabinet lighting.
-Replacing light fixtures.
-Replacing outdated shelving with pantry and cabinet organizers to maximize space.
-Baking cookies or cupcakes for a showing, to create a homey smell.

Tip #8: Stage furniture
Furniture placement can enhance the space of your home while giving buyers an idea of how to best utilize the space with their own belongings. Take some time to rethink how different areas in your house could be used. Some ideas to think about include:
-Moving couches and chairs away from walls in your sitting and family rooms to create cozy conversational groups.
-Creating a reading corner in the master bedroom.
-Clearing an empty room to set up a reading space.
-Turning an awkward space into a home office.
-Setting the dining room table with your best china.
-Set wine glasses in front of the fireplace or next to a Jacuzzi tub.

Tip #9: Light up the house
Create a sense of openness and cheerfulness in your home through its lighting. To improve the lighting try:
-Opening shades and drapes to let the sunshine warm and brighten rooms.
-Installing brighter light bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark.
-Adding additional lamps for ambient lighting.
-Turning on all the lights for a showing.

Tip #10: Add fresh touches
You can easily add color and style to your home by adding fresh touches throughout. Some ideas to consider include:
-Placing fresh floral arrangements in the entry and master bedroom.
-Placing bowls of bright-colored fruit in the family room and the kitchen.
-Filling an empty corner with a potted leafy plant.
-Setting new hand soap in the bathrooms.
-Displaying fresh towels near sinks.

Friday, December 9, 2011

grass valley center for the arts event calendar

Drew Harrison – In the Spirit of Lennon

The Center for the Arts presents
Friday, December 16

Paula Poundstone – NEW YEARS EVE!

The Center for the Arts presents
Saturday, December 31, 8:00PM

David Hidalgo & Louie Perez of Los Lobos

The Center for the Arts presents
Sunday Singer/Songwriter Series
An Evening of Storytelling & Songs
Sunday, January 15

An Intimate Evening with Lucinda Williams

Sunday, January 22
Sunday Singer/Songwriter Series

John Doe former leader of X

The Center for the Arts presents
Saturday, February 4, 2012

grass valley center for the arts event calendar

Photos with Santa through Dec 21 Nevada City

Photos with Santa through Dec 21

Photos with Santa
National Hotel
217 Broad St, Nevada City

• Saturday Dec. 10
10am to Noon & 1:30pm to 4pm

• Sundays Dec. 11 & 18
1:30pm to 6pm

Wednesdays During Victorian Christmas Dec 7, 14 & 21
5pm to 9pm

$5 – All Money donated to the local Mason’s Eastern Star Charities during Victorian Christmas

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Jan 13-15

Wild & Scenic ® Film Festival Jan 13-15

Festival Dates: Friday, January 13 through Sunday, January 15, 2012

Festival Locations: Downtown Nevada City, Headquarters located at the Veteran’s Building 415 N. Pine St., Film Screenings at the Miners Foundry, Nevada Theatre, Odd Fellows, Nevada City Elementary and Veteran’s Building.

Tickets: Online at beginning Dec. 1st. In person at SYRCL office, 216 Main St., beginning Dec. 1, Mon-Thurs, from 12-5pm until January 12th.

Short Synopsis: Celebrate a decade of inspiring activism with SYRCL (South Yuba River Citizens League) this January. Now the largest film festival of its kind, this year’s films combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling. Wild and Scenic Film Festival informs, inspires and ignites solutions, and creates positive probabilities to restore the earth and human communities.

Each year, the Wild & Scenic® Film Festival draws top filmmakers, celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well-known world adventurers to the historic downtown of Nevada City, California. Now known as “the next Sundance” the Wild and Scenic experience proves the power of film and passion.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival – Decade of Inspiring Activism

Films: Films to Change Your World
Over 117 films have been accepted for the January 13-15, 2012 festival. The program committee spent close to 2,000 hours previewing 345 film submissions. As always, over 100 filmmakers, activists and special guests will be in attendance this year.

28 World and US film premieres.
Film genres include: award-winning films about nature, community activism, adventure, conservation, water, energy and climate change, wildlife, environmental justice, agriculture, and Native American and indigenous cultures.

Local Filmmakers Showcase
Filmmakers: A Few Confirmed Filmmakers Steve & Ann Dunsky, filmmakers of Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic For Our Time Anne Makepeace, director of “We Still Live Here”, which will be featured at the WSFF, as part of our Native American film session. Farrell Cunningham, the only speaker of Maidu under 80 years old, is teaching Maidu classes locally and will speak in conjunction with the film.

Previous Special Guests: Sir Patrick Stewart, Peter Coyote, Daryl Hannah, Ron Kauk, Colin Beavan, Julia Butterfly Hill, Winona LaDuke, and Jeremy Jones.

Current Special Guests: Native poet and activist John Trudell, Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman, cosmologist Brian Swimme, naturalist David Lukas, John DeGraaf (environmental filmmaker & director of the Happiness Project), river activist Marion Stoddart, Estella Leopold (not confirmed, but very likely), Hans Florine (speed climbing world record holder), Zeb Hogan (aquatic ecologist, National Geographic Explorer), Andy Maser (filmmmaker, National Geographic Explorer), Jason Rainey (Executive Director, International Rivers)

Call 1-877-311-GARY
"Eight Seven Seven Three Eleven... Gary"

Grass Valley and Nevada City Bed and Breakfast Christmas Tour - FREE

Bed and Breakfast Christmas Tour Dec 15th

In the spirit of Christmas giving, three local Bed and Breakfasts have elected to “Show Off” for the holidays. Decorated in their Christmas grandeur, these inns will open their doors and welcome visitors to step back in time and enjoy the splendor of an old fashioned holiday season.

On December 15th the Elam Biggs Bed and Breakfast and the Swan Levine House in Grass Valley will welcome all visitors from 4:30 to 7:00 PM, and in Nevada City, the Deer Creek Inn will do the same… and best of all…, IT IS FREE. Not only will you get to see the heart of these magnificent Inns, but of course, we never let anyone leave hungry. So, be sure to indulge in the holiday treats offered up and well… just consider it another Christmas gift from the Innkeepers.

In these hard economic times we must share with one another the small gifts that each of us has to offer. We will share the beauty of our inns with you and you can share those wonderful smiles that make this season, as they say… “A Joy to Remember”. Happy Holidays and we will see you on December 15th.

In Grass Valley:
Elam Biggs Bed and Breakfast
220 Colfax Avenue
Grass Valley, CA 95945-6844
(530) 477-0906

The Swan Levine House
328 South Church Street
Grass Valley, CA 95945-6709
(530) 272-1873

In Nevada City:
Deer Creek Inn
116 Nevada Street
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 264-7038

Nevada City Victorian Christmas

Victorian Christmas In Nevada City

Wednesdays, Dec 7, 14 & 21 5-9pm
Sundays, Dec 11 & 18 1:30-6pm

Welcome the holiday season in style in historic Nevada City, a quaint, Gold Rush town nestled in the foothills of the snow-capped Sierra where each year the town’s picturesque downtown transforms into a genuine Christmas card come to life. It’s a magical setting of hilly streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gaslamps, wandering minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings.
Nevada City’s Victorian Christmas evokes holiday memories of an earlier era. Join us for Strolling Carolers, Children’s Activities, Carriage Rides, Roasted Chestnuts, Holiday Shopping, Handcrafted Chirstmas Gifts, and much more!

Read more about Victorian Christmas here:

Nevada County Housing Rebound

Barclays analyst sees housing rebound coming in 2012

Barclays Capital predicts a housing recovery buoyed by improving jobs numbers and the fact prices for non-distressed homes will have stabilized...

You say "tomato" I say.... well you know.

But the fact is at least there is a lot of homes to choose from at great prices and still for the moment very very low interest rates. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Is lease to own home or rent to own purchase worth the risk?

A lease-to-own house purchase (also "rent-to-own purchase" or "lease purchase") is a lease combined with an option to purchase the property within a specified period, usually three years or less, at an agreed-upon price. Such arrangements have proliferated in the post-crisis market because many potential homebuyers can't meet the tougher loan qualification requirements today, and many potential sellers are unable to realize a satisfactory price in any other way.

Lease-purchase plans can be structured in such a way that both parties benefit. They can also be structured so that all the benefits flow to one of the parties and none to the other.
Buyers especially need to be careful because they usually know less about the market than sellers, and the seller usually provides the contract.

Please contact me about these types of arrangements. They can be minefields if not careful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Country Christmas Fair Nevada County

November 25, 26 and 27

Nevada County Fairgrounds

GIFTS AND CRAFTS GALORE: With multiple buildings filled with thousands of unique gifts and crafts, you'll find something for everyone on your list - plus a little something for yourself.

FESTIVITIES: In between shopping, enjoy strolling carolers, the magical gingerbread house display, wagon rides, delicious food, the bell ringing RiverBells, and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Or, for a slower pace, grab a cup of hot chocolate and a bag of kettle corn and sit and enjoy the bonfire. We've even got some chestnuts roasting on an open fire!

FREE BABYSITTING AND ERRAND ELVES: The Northern Mines Girl Scouts will offer free babysitting so parents can drop off their children while they enjoy holiday shopping. Errand elves will also be available to assist you throughout the event.

CANNED FOOD DRIVE: The Nevada County Fairgrounds has teamed up with HOPE (Help Other People Eat) for a canned Food Drive. Bring a can of food on Sunday, November 27, from 10 am to 4 pm, and get $1 off Sunday's admission price. All food donated will help feed those in need in Nevada County.


Friday, November 25 from 10 am - 5 pm

Saturday, November 26 from 10 am - 5 pm

Sunday, November 27 from 10 am - 4 pm

Admission: $4 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Parking is $5; however, Faire-goers will receive one free admission for each paid parking pass.

For information, visit or call (530) 273-6217.

Gingerbread House Competition

Now is the time for holiday bakers to think about the creation of a magical Gingerbread House to enter into the 9th annual Gingerbread House Competition held at the Country Christmas Faire.

Competitors may enter any of the 11 categories, including children, teens, adults, special needs, families, groups and businesses. There is even a category for children under 8 years of age who want to enter a house made by a kit.

Entry forms must be received at the Fairgrounds by Friday, November 18; the actual gingerbread house entry must be delivered to the Fairgrounds on Tuesday, November 22. All Gingerbread House exhibitors will receive two free passes to the Country Christmas Faire.

Entry forms and a complete list of rules can be picked up at the Fairgrounds office on McCourtney Road, or downloaded here. For more information, call (530) 273-6217.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mortgage Rates Head Lower Making Another Record

As the financial crisis hit a high in Europe last week, here in the U.S. mortgage rates headed lower making another all time record. The potential of a Greek default held everyone's attention even as some positive data was being released for the U.S. economy. By Friday, the results of this turmoil caused low mortgage rates to decrease even further. A survey of wholesale and direct lenders show that some mortgage rates declined from .125% to .500% bringing most of them once again to historical lows.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monthly mortgage payment almost 40% cheaper than 2006

Housing affordability improved dramatically because of declines in both prices and mortgage interest rates, according to David Stiff, chief economist at Fiserv .

"The monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced single-family home is now $700, compared to $1,140 in 2006 — a decline of nearly 40%," he said in comments on the latest release from Fiserv.

Home prices in the U.S. will decline 3.6% into mid-2012 and then rebound 2.4% in second half 2012 through the first half 2013, according to Fiserv Case-Shiller projections.

Fiserv’s indices look at home price trends in 384 U.S. markets. Prices fell in 340 markets, with 302 of them hitting new lows in the second quarter.

The National Association of Realtors found a similar trend. On Wednesday, the trade group revealed that the median price on existing home sales fell in most of the 150 metropolitan areas surveyed by the organization in the third quarter.

Price declines and low mortgage rates have resulted in a ratio of monthly mortgage payments to median family income that is the lowest on record based on Fiserv analytics.
Why not check out some Nevada County houses?

Friday, November 11, 2011

4% Mortgage Unreal

Government efforts to make lenders pay for soured mortgages may be keeping potential borrowers from record-low interest rates, slowing home sales and refinancing as banks tighten standards to avoid more demands for refunds.
Lenders are insisting on higher credit scores and more documents than required by the Federal Housing Administration and government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Quicken Loans Inc. and Vision Mortgage Capital are among firms saying they are increasing scrutiny of would-be borrowers in response to pressure to cover losses incurred on U.S.-backed housing debt.

Mortgage rates as low as 3.94 percent are proving insufficient to revive housing. Sales of existing homes fell 3 percent last month, National Association of Realtors data show, and 18 percent of the group’s members reported contract cancellations, at least twice as high as in normal circumstances. Among the reasons were refusals of loan applications after appraisals came in below sales prices.

Faulty mortgage lending and foreclosure practices have cost the five biggest U.S. home lenders more than $68 billion since 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Much of the amount has stemmed from losses tied to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA, which together buy or insure more than 90 percent of new mortgages.

“Documentation standards are getting more and more onerous because no one wants to manufacture an imperfect loan, even if the imperfection is really insignificant,” said Quicken Loans CEO Bill Emerson, who leads the eighth-largest U.S. home lender and No. 1 online mortgage originator.

President Barack Obama’s latest push to help more borrowers refinance into cheaper rates may hinge on the effectiveness of changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac repurchase rights. FHFA acting Director Edward DeMarco told reporters yesterday that the companies would offer “substantial” relief from buyback demands without providing “blanket or absolute” protection as they expand the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program for borrowers with little or no equity in their houses.

While the average rate on a 30-year fixed loan was 4.11 percent in the week ended Oct. 20, the historically low costs don’t capture the “very, very harsh underwriting standards” that potential home buyers face, said Ron Peltier, CEO of HomeServices of America, the property brokerage owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The process is “the most embarrassing, difficult thing you can imagine,” Peltier said in an Oct. 13 interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.

The average time between mortgage application and closing rose to about 52 days last year, three weeks longer than in 2008, according to J.D. Power and Associates surveys.
Pressure from the GSEs has “definitely stanched the flow of credit to the mortgage market, but we had clearly gone too far,” said Richard Eckert, an analyst in San Francisco at securities firm B. Riley & Co. who wrote research on subprime lenders during the housing boom and then joined a hedge fund betting against property loans during the collapse. “We’ve got to return to some kind of happy balance.”
Bank of America Corp. (BAC) has scaled back mortgage lending as CEO Brian T. Moynihan prepares for new capital requirements and grapples with demands that it compensate investors including Fannie Mae and Freddie for losses.

While the FHA allows down payments as low as 3.5 percent from borrowers whose credit scores are at least 580, lenders are setting the bar higher, such as at 620, he said.

Lenders “feel like they’re being held accountable for things beyond their control,” he said. “The only thing the industry can do is tighten up on the front end.”

The unit of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania-based Continental Bank also started taking additional looks at consumers’ credit files shortly before completing loans, based on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidance, Lowrie said. It finds more situations like the potential borrower who took out a new car lease while waiting for the application to clear, “and now that loan’s going back to underwriting again,” she said.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why own a home rather than rent? It's more than about money.

The Joys of Owning a Home
Experts talk about the latest statistics about long-term wealth, home values, and interest rates, yet there's a much more sentimental side to home ownership.

In fact, many home buyers are drawn to home ownership for these warm and fuzzy reasons.
Owning a home allows you to put down roots, both figuratively and literally. On one hand you become part of a neighborhood and community. When you rent, neighbors come and go as quickly as leases renew. Homeowners, however, tend to stay put longer.

What does this mean for you? You can develop, many times, lifelong relationships. This also means your home will see you through many of life's important milestones.

It makes sense. Many people enter the realm of home ownership as young couples looking to build a nest. They plan on starting their own family and need room to expand and grow. These family homes will see many firsts and will be the container of countless memories. Additionally, home ownership gives families more room to entertain and this means extended family will also share in building memories.

It's not just young families, though, that seek home ownership. Families with teenagers seek larger homes to room their growing brood. Retiring adults may wish to start a new phase and new memories, seeking out warmer climates or smaller, more manageable homes.

These little moments are what life is all about. Memories from Christmas mornings and summer vacations will fill minds for years to come.

On the other hand you literally can put down roots by planting trees and shrubs! Renters are rarely allowed to do much gardening. Digging up the landlord's yard is frowned upon. As a homeowner you are able to create your own green oasis, including trees that will mature alongside your children and gardens.

There is a certain pride that comes with home ownership. This little piece of property and land is yours. This security allows people to form deep attachments to both the land and home.

This pride of ownership spurs many owners to make improvements and additions, both to keep the home in working order and to make it more comfortable and usable, which in turns improves neighborhood values and overall curb appeal.

Why do people buy? They may be initially motivated by changes in circumstance, such as a new job or a new family, but they buy based on emotional responses. People want a house that can become their home, where they'll fill it with good times and memories. Be sure to remember this sentimental side of home ownership the next time you read about stocks, bonds, and housing woes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How Bad Is The Credit Damage After Short Sale Or Foreclosure?

How much impact does a short sale have on FICO® Scores? How about a foreclosure? Since I frequently hear these questions from clients and others, I thought I’d share new FICO research that sheds light on this very subject.

The FICO study simulated various types of mortgage delinquencies on three representative credit bureau profiles of consumers scoring 680, 720 and 780, respectively. I say “representative profiles” because we focused on consumers whose credit characteristics (e.g., utilization, delinquency history, age of file) were typical of the three score points considered. All consumers had an active currently-paid-as-agreed mortgage on file.
All in all, we saw:
The magnitude of FICO® Score impact is highly dependent on the starting score.

There’s no significant difference in score impact between short sale/deed-in-lieu/settlement and foreclosure.

While a score may begin to improve sooner, it could take up to 7-10 years to fully recover, assuming all other obligations are paid as agreed.

In general, the higher starting score, the longer it takes for the score to fully recover.

Even if there’s minimal difference in score impact between moderate and severe delinquencies, there may be significant difference in time required for the score to fully recover.

This study provides good benchmarks of score impact from mortgage delinquencies. However, it is important to note that research was done only on select consumer credit profiles. Given the wide range of credit profiles that exist, results may vary beyond what’s in the charts above.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Existing-Home Sales Off in September but Higher Than a Year Ago

Existing-Home Sales Off in September but Higher Than a Year Ago

Washington, DC, October 20, 2011
Existing-home sales were down in September on the heels of a strong gain in August, but remain well above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, town homes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.91 million in September from an upwardly revised 5.06 million in August, but are 11.3 percent above the 4.41 million unit pace in September 2010.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market has been stable although at low levels, and there is plenty of room for improvement. “Existing-home sales have bounced around this year, staying relatively close to the current level in most months,” he said. “The irony is affordability conditions have improved to historic highs and more creditworthy borrowers are trying to purchase homes, but the share of contract failures is double the level of September 2010. Even so, the volume of successful buyers is higher than a year ago and is remaining fairly stable – this speaks to an unfulfilled demand.”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

HARP Refinance Program Expanded

HARP Refinance Program Expanded

Borrowers who are current on their home loans may be able to refinance for lower interest rates, even if they are seriously upside down.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today that it will broaden the scope of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) by removing the current 125 percent loan-to-value cap for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Other program enhancements include, among other things, reducing certain fees, eliminating the need for a new property appraisal if the FHFA has a reliable automated valuation model (AVM) estimate, and extending HARP until the end of 2013.  New federal guidelines for the HARP changes should be released to mortgage lenders and servicers by November 15.

The basic eligibility requirements for an enhanced HARP loan are as follows:
Existing mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  To check whether a borrower has a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, go to
Existing mortgage loan must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009.
Existing mortgage loan cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously (except for Fannie Mae loans refinanced between March and May 2009).
Current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80%.
Existing mortgage loan must be current, with no late payments in the past six months, and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.
More information is available from FHFA at

What is the HARP plan by Obama? Refinancing.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- President Obama's expansion of the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, is a winner all around, for "underwater" home borrowers looking to refinance at historically low rates, for Fannie Mae (FNMA_) and Freddie Mac (FMCC_), who can limit foreclosure losses, and for the president's reelection prospects.

It's easy to go with the knee-jerk reaction and say that the expanded refinance program simply puts off a day of reckoning for Fannie and Freddie -- since the refinanced borrowers will still owe more than their homes are currently worth.

But the expansion of refinancing activity will actually lower the government-sponsored mortgage giants'risk.

Not only will the borrowers qualifying for the refinancing be limited to those who have already demonstrated that they are good credit risks, the program's incentives to steer borrowers into shorter-term mortgages mean that for many of the new loans, principal balances will be repaid faster. It will also be better for the GSEs to look for some recovery in home prices over the next several years, rather than dealing with more foreclosures now, each of which could easily lead to a 50% loss.

HARP is offered to mortgage borrowers who are current on mortgage loans that are guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, whose home values have dropped so much that the current loan-to-value ratio is over 80%. The program has been extended through December 2013, and is available for loans sold to Fannie or Freddie before May 31, 2009.

Under the expanded HARP, borrowers will be able to refinance for up to 125% of a home's current value, but the 125% loan-to-value cap will be removed during the first quarter of 2012.

With long-term interest rates at historically low levels, this is a wonderful time to refinance a home mortgage, and the federal government is looking to make it much easier for borrowers whose homes have lost so much value that the outstanding loan balance is higher than the home is worth.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie, on Monday announced, along with the two mortgage giants, several enhancements to HARP, in order to reduce "risk for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bringing a measure of stability to housing markets," according to FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Buy A House, Get A Visa Foreign Investors and Investments

Attention Canadian snowbirds, well-heeled Brazilians and boom-era Chinese nationals looking for a little piece of that increasingly elusive thing called “The American Dream.”

America has your number and, literally, it’s $500,000.

In a comprehensive bill that aims to spur foreign travel and spending in the U.S., Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), have proposed providing a three-year residential visa to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in residential real estate in the U.S. At least $250,000 must be spent on a primary residence where the visa holder will live for at least 180 days out of the year while paying taxes to the U.S.

Investor Warren Buffett offered an early version of this real estate inducement back in August. During an interview on PBS, Buffett suggested that if the U.S. altered policy and opened the door for “rich immigrants,” those resources would be welcomed in a struggling U.S. economy, especially in the area of residential housing.

Inducements for foreign national purchase of U.S. real estate is seen another important step towards bolstering prices and shoring up markets in foreclosure-centric areas.

“There is no silver bullet out there. And really, the path forward is a lot of small steps like this that we’re going to take,” according to Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist.

Real estate analysts have said this proposal could lift demand for U.S. homes and help ease the housing crisis. According to Humphries, foreigners spent more than $80 billion on U.S. homes last year, a 24 percent increase from the year before. A quarter of those buyers were Canadian. Another 25 percent of foreign investors in residential U.S. property is made up of investors from China, Mexico, United Kingdom and India — a percentage that could be boosted should the proposal become law.
The proposal has gotten the thumb’s up from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Travel Assocation and the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Homes Sales Data as of 10/28/2011

Here are the talking points from Case/ Shiller:

* Some improvement noted marking the fifth straight month that at least half of the cities in the survey showed monthly gains.

* The biggest price increases were in Washington, Chicago and Detroit. The greatest declines were in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

* The August data provides a “modest glimmer of hope” that some areas may have bottomed out and could be turning around, said David M. Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee. He noted that cities in the Midwest — Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis — have shown some strength since May.

* Overall home prices were “flat” and a recovery in the struggling housing market was not on the horizon. Over the past 12 months, prices have fallen in all but two cities. Detroit and Washington were the only two cities to show year-over-year gains.

* Given the overwhelming level of inventory that remains on the market .(banks shadow inventory).. further price declines seem almost assured to help clear the market.

* Prices are certain to fall again once banks resume millions of foreclosures that have been delayed because of a yearlong government investigation into mortgage lending practices.

* Home prices have stabilized in coastal cities over the past six months.

* Home prices in many cities, including Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa, have reached their lowest points since the housing bust more than four years ago.

* Sales of previously occupied home sales are on pace to match last year’s dismal figures — the worst in 13 years. Sales of new homes fell to a six-month low in August and this year could be the worst since the government began keeping records a half century ago.

* Foreclosures and short sales — when a lender accepts less for a home than what is owed on a mortgage — makes up about 30 percent of all home sales last month, up from about 10 percent in past years. The large number of unsold homes and foreclosures are sending prices lower and hurting sales.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1031 Exchanges Grass Valley Nevada City

1031 Exchange Process: Step By Step

Investors unfamiliar with 1031 Exchanges may envision the process as being intimidating and difficult. In reality, it doesn’t have to be. In order to successfully complete an exchange, investors must simply follow the following basic steps:
  1. Set up an Exchange Account with a 1031 Exchange Company - The 1031 Exchange account MUST be opened before close of escrow on the property being sold. Waiting until the last minute is not recommended, but some companies can open a ‘rush’ account if necessary.
  2. Insert the Appropriate Language into the Sales Contract - The appropriate 1031 language should be added to the Purchase & Sale contract for the property being sold. A 1031 Exchange company will provide all  language if necessary.
  3. Execute the Exchange Agreement - At the close of escrow, the 1031 Exchange company will coordinate with the escrow company to obtain all of the necessary signatures on all exchange documentation.
  4. Locate Replacement Property - The most difficult process of the exchange can often be finding the right replacement property within the required timeframe. The IRS requires that potential replacement property is identified on or before day 45 of the exchange and property must be acquired on or before day 180 of the exchange.
  5. Submit 45 Day Identification Letter - The Identification Letter MUST be submitted no later than day 45 of the exchange. All potential replacement properties must be identified in writing in an unambiguous manner.
  6. Request Funds for Deposits - Money for deposits can be disbursed from the exchange account. Clients are required to send the 1031 Exchange company the “Disbursement Form” indicating how much money needs to be distributed and to whom. Deposits can also come from the clients personal funds and then reimbursed to the client at the closing of the property.
  7. Obtain Appropriate Signatures - At the close of escrow of the replacement property, 1031 Exchange company will work with the new escrow company to obtain all appropriate signatures for all exchange documentation. Depending on the nature of the transaction, additional steps may need to take place. The 1031 Exchange company will work closely with the client to ensure a successful transaction.  

    I can help you with your 1031 Exchanges and refer you to a 1031 Exchange company. Please contact me today to get started.



In Tuesday's other main economic report, the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of house prices in 20 metropolitan areas was flat compared with the month before on a seasonally adjusted basis, frustrating expectations for a gain of 0.1 percent. (that's called a gain? more like a statistical variation of nothingness)

On a seasonally adjusted basis, prices fell in 14 of 20 cities, with Atlanta and Las Vegas among the biggest losers, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller data.

The annual rate of decline slowed, however, with prices in the 20 cities down 3.8 percent compared with a year-over-year decline of 4.1 percent the month before. That still was a bigger drop than the expected 3.5 percent decline in August.

Analysts said the weaker-than-expected home price data was disappointing but not altogether shocking as the market struggles to get out from under a glut of unsold homes and ongoing foreclosures that are holding prices down.

While prices are forecast to remain depressed for some time, any further declines are expected to be modest.

"This has been a five-year process and I think we are at least closer to the end of the hemorrhaging in housing prices than we've been in a long, long time," said Chan.

The struggling housing market continues to be one of the biggest hurdles for the economic recovery as attempts to bolster the sector have had limited success.

In the latest efforts, the Obama administration said on Monday it would expand a mortgage refinancing program in a step that could help up to a million borrowers.

"I'm glad that they're trying. This was a clever idea. But more needs to be done," Yale economist and index co-founder Robert Shiller told Reuters Insider.

A separate home price index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed prices declined 0.1 percent in August from July.

The index is calculated using purchase prices of houses financed with mortgages that have been sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

(Well, are we done yet?)
(Gotta sell? Wanna buy? Want to talk about this stuff? I'm here for you.)

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