Sunday, November 23, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Manager / Sr. Loan Consultant
International City Mortgage
Phone: (562) 754-4744
Fax: (562) 683-0427
With identity theft on the rise, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of reviewing their credit reports. However, their thoughts about credit and its long-term impact upon their financial future typically end there until it's time to apply for a home loan. A credit score is used to evaluate how likely a borrower is to repay their loan. There are several actions a person can take to impact their score. Here are a few to keep in mind.
If someone has a credit card which has a high balance, while their remaining credit cards have low or zero balances, it's best to distribute the debt across the cards in order to change the ratio of debt to available credit.
Many consumers believe that they should close an existing credit card account if the card is inactive. It's better to keep the account open and use it periodically in order to take advantage of its contribution to their long-term credit history.
With the flood of credit card offers that come in the mail, it may be tempting to open new accounts. However, these "pre-approved" offers are not approved until the companies run a credit report which will temporarily impact the applicant's credit score. In addition, experts recommend that a person maintain between two to five credit card accounts, total, so it's best to avoid accumulating too many.
There are several factors that contribute to a credit score. But by observing the tips above, as well as making payments on time and keeping balances as low as possible, a consumer is sure to achieve superior results.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
THE RESCUE OF FANNIE & FREDDIE
Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average leapt north nearly 290 points as investors cheered the Treasury Department's weekend takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This decisive move immediately boosted the morale of stock market investors and real estate investors. In fact, you may feel the same way Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson does: on CNBC Monday, he expressed his belief that the takeover, "more than any other action that I've seen done here, has advanced the ball" in leading the real estate sector toward recovery.1
You could almost hear Wall Street wiping its brow and exhaling: "Whewwwww." As Moody's.com chief economist Mark Zandi put it, "This takes a major financial threat off the table."2
What might this mean for the housing market? Well, mortgage rates fell half a percentage point Monday =- and they could fall further in coming weeks.3 Zandi, in fact, thinks rates on 30-year FRMs could dive to around 5.5% (they were averaging about 6.35% nationwide on the morning of September 8th).2
While the takeover isn't exactly a "magic wand" that will reduce the glut of unsold homes or erase America's foreclosure problem, it will restore a great deal of confidence in the housing and credit markets.
The reasons for the takeover. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, respectively created by the federal government in 1938 and 1970, buy mortgages from banks and other lenders. They convert and resell bundled loans as mortgage-backed securities, generating money enabling banks to make new loans. Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half the home loans in the United States. If they had collapsed, the U.S. housing market would have faced an unprecedented catastrophe =- and stock markets around the globe would have taken a painful plunge. Fannie and Freddie absorbed $14 billion in losses within the last year, and battled rumors of insolvency all summer.1
Both mortgage giants will now be placed into conservatorship =- a move akin to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in which they will be permitted to restructure their operations.
Fannie and Freddie will keep doing business as usual, but they will now operate directly under the authority of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (which was created this spring to regulate them). David Moffett, the former CFO of U.S. Bancorp, will become the new head of Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae will now be run by Herb Allison, former CEO of retirement plan administrator TIAA-CREF.4
The near-term plan. At Sunday's press conference, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson cited the three goals of the takeover: "market stability, mortgage availability and taxpayer protection."5 He presented a plan with the following short-term objectives:
- The Treasury Department will make a major stock purchase in both firms, buying as much as $100 billion in senior preferred shares in each company so that Fannie and Freddie can stay solvent.4
- The Treasury will also buy new mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie and Freddie, in order to help keep
mortgage rates low.6
- In addition, the Treasury Department will also provide Fannie, Freddie and a dozen other federal home loan banks with secured forms of short-term financing.4
- Fannie and Freddie will continue to make loans "without limits".6
- Both companies will quit paying dividends to shareholders, thereby saving up to $2 billion per year.6
Paulson told reporters Sunday that buying up both firms' debt would cost taxpayers nothing, and possibly even result in a profit for taxpayers. The long-term cost of this rescue, he noted, would depend on forthcoming business conditions.6 (For the record, the New York Times estimates the bailout could require tens of billions of dollars.7)
Permission to grow =- and an order to shrink. Paulson commented that the size, structure and governmental relationship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to be determined by the next U.S. President and Congress, noting that "government support needs to be either explicit or nonexistent." They are currently GSEs (government-sponsored enterprises), privately owned but publicly chartered.
Paulson said that both firms will be permitted to "modestly increase" their investment portfolios until the end of 2009 ? but starting in 2010, both Fannie and Freddie will be asked to reduce their investment portfolios by 10% each year. Both companies' portfolios currently total above $1.4 trillion; the goal is to shrink them to a total of $500 billion. Additionally, Fannie and Freddie will have to pay quarterly fees to the Treasury Department beginning in 2010 for the financial support they received under the bailout plan.7
So a severe restructuring and reduction is in store for these quasi-public mortgage firms, which must now be held responsible for questionable accounting methods, relaxed standards, and a blind eye to a bursting U.S. housing bubble.
Pete Mitchell, AAMS, AWMA, CFIS
Pete Mitchell is a member of the American Bar Association and National Ethics Bureau
1 articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Dispatch/market-dispatches-090808.aspx [9/8/08]
2 money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/bbdp/can-fannie-freddie-deal-fix-housing/162786 [9/8/08]
3 news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/providerarticle.aspx?feed=OBR&date=20080908&id=9109753 [9/8/08]
4 bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=ajcw4yxxPGJ8&refer=news [9/7/08]
5 mcclatchydc.com/251/story/51965.html [8/22/08]
6 csmonitor.com/2008/0908/p01s01-usec.html [9/7/08]
7 nytimes.com/2008/09/08/business/08fannie.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin [9/7/08]
If you have any questions please contact me! Have you seen the prices today here in out fair city? Don't get left behind, the time to buy is NOW!!!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
This morning President Bush signed the "Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008." For the past several years, C.A.R. and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® have aggressively lobbied for Congress to pass numerous provisions found in this historic bill. Many of you participated in these efforts by communicating with your Members of Congress.
Thank you to all of you who responded to these Calls-for-Action. Your efforts have made a difference. This federal housing bill is a significant move in the right direction for California homeowners. It will aid in stabilizing our economy and help stem foreclosures, while also providing support to first-time homeowners.
The legislation will assist an estimated 400,000 homeowners facing foreclosure, many of whom reside in California, by allowing them to refinance their current mortgages with a Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed loan. The bill also will permanently increase FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loan limits in high-cost areas.
The bill permanently increases the conforming loan limit to $625,500. C.A.R. has long advocated for higher conforming loan limits. In February, the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 was signed, temporarily raising the conforming loan limit in high-cost areas to $729,750 from $417,000 until December 31, 2008.
Although we would have liked Congress to make permanent the current $729,750 loan limit, C.A.R. is pleased with the new permanent loan limit of $625,500. It will allow California homeowners to refinance their loans into safe affordable loan products and allow first-time home buyers to enter the market.
The new loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the greater of either $417,000 or 115 percent of an area’s median home price, up to $625,500. The new FHA loan limit will be the greater of $271,050 or 115 percent of an area’s median home price, up to $625,500. Both new loan limits will be effective at the expiration of the economic stimulus limits on December 31, 2008.
C.A.R. also supports the following bill provisions:
A temporary increase in mortgage revenue bonds to refinance subprime mortgages.
New regulator for Government Sponsored Enterprises to restore investor confidence in GSE loans and help the market and economy stabilize.
First-time home buyer tax credit, which allows first-time home buyers to receive a tax refund worth up to 10 percent of a home’s purchase price, up to a maximum of $7,500. The refund serves as an interest-free loan and the homeowner is required to repay it in equal installments over 15 years.
Temporary raise in the loan limit for the Veterans Affairs home loan guarantee program to the same level as the economic stimulus limits until the end of 2008.
Adjustment to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA), allowing sellers to provide the non-foreign affidavit to a qualified closing entity and not just the buyer.
The setting of minimum requirements for mortgage originators, which mandates fingerprinting of loan originators and establishes a nationwide loan originator licensing and registration system. The requirements do not apply to those only performing real estate brokerage activities unless they are compensated by a lender, mortgage broker, or other loan originator. States will have the ability to implement more stringent laws.
The creation of a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help cover the cost of the FHA rescue plan for the first five years and develop affordable housing in subsequent years.
Other provisions in the legislation:
The Treasury Department’s proposal to create a federal backstop program to insure the financial well-being of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The FHA’s inability to insure loans that utilize a seller-funded down-payment assistance program. Down-payment assistance from family, employers and other nonprofits is still allowed.
The Community Development Block Grant Programs’ $4 billion allotment for communities to purchase and refurbish foreclosed homes.
C.A.R. wishes to thank those California Members of Congress who supported the bill:
Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Diane Feinstein, and Representatives Joe Baca, Xavier Becerra, Howard Berman, Mary Bono Mack, Ken Calvert, John Campbell, Lois Capps, Dennis Cardoza, Jim Costa, Susan Davis, David Dreier, Anna Esho, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Elton Gallegly, Jane Harman, Mike Honda, Duncan Hunter, Barbara Lee, Jerry Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Dan Lungren, Doris Matsui, Howard "Buck" McKeon, Jerry McNerney, Gary Miller, George Miller, Grace Napolitano, Nancy Pelosi, Laura Richardson, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda Sanchez, Loretta Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman, Hilda Solis, Jackie Speier, Pete Stark, Ellen Tausher, Mike Thompson, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Henry Waxman and Lynn Woolsey.
Thank you everyone for your efforts in support of this bill!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Today's passage of The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 by the House of Representatives will help bring stability to the housing market and stem the rising rate of foreclosures, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
NAR thanked Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., and the House of Representatives for their bipartisan efforts in getting H.R. 3221 passed.
“Realtors® are in the business of building communities, and our 1.2 million members understand that this legislation will go a long way in helping people buy and keep their homes,” said NAR President Dick Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif. “We look forward to prompt Senate action to finalize this bill, helping ensure that every American who can afford to own a home and wants to do so will have the opportunity and that everyone who responsibly owns a home is able to keep it. This bill must get to the president quickly, and we urge him to act immediately to sign it into law.”
NAR has expressed ongoing support for the major features in the housing package. The legislation includes Federal Housing Administration Modernization that will simplify and make FHA-backed mortgages more available while helping thousands of families refinance existing mortgages and keep their homes. Other important components of the bill that NAR supports are reform of the government-sponsored enterprises (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), permanent increases to both GSE and FHA loan limits, a first-time home buyer tax credit and a program to expand FHA that would allow more homeowners to refinance their mortgages.
“The $7,500 tax credit for first-time home buyers is a needed stimulus for a weak housing market,” said Gaylord. “This bill would extend the tax credit availability through June 2009, which would have a further positive effect on the housing market.”
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Buying a home in today’s market may be challenging, particularly for those with credit problems or little saved to put toward a down payment. But there are many factors impacting the current housing market that make buying a home today a viable option.
1 Interest rates on long-term, fixed, and adjustable mortgages are at historically low levels. The rate on a 30-year, fixed mortgage is hovering just below 6 percent, while, by comparison, interest rates were hitting 8 percent and higher during the last market downturn in the late 1990s, and were between 10 and 12 percent at the height of the last housing boom in the 1980s. Lower interest rates make it easier to qualify for a loan, and your monthly payments are more affordable.
2 No one can put a price on the intrinsic value of homeownership. Home prices also reflect financial worth and, the good news is, across California the median sales price for a single-family home has been consistently rising for several decades. In short, housing remains a solid, long-term financial investment. While the pace of home appreciation has slowed over the last year, historical data suggest home prices will continue to appreciate over time. The projected median home price for a single-family home in California in 2008, for example, is $553,000. By comparison, the median price in 2000 was $241,350; $193,770 in 1990, and $99,550 in 1980. (source: C.A.R.)
3 The length of time a home remains on the market before it is sold has increased from
roughly two weeks in 2004 to between eight and nine weeks in 2007. According to the
unsold inventory index provided by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, it would take 16.3 months to sell all the homes on the market at the current sales pace, compared with 6.4 months in 2006. With more homes on the market for longer periods of time, you have more choices when it comes to selecting a home today.
4 The multiple-offer frenzy that dominated the latest housing boom has subsided, and there is
less pressure on today’s home buyers to outbid one another. REALTORS® in California reported that in 2007 only 28 percent of homes sold had multiple offers, compared with 57 percent in 2004. (source: C.A.R.)
5 The credit industry crisis that has made securing a home loan difficult for many has led to
heightened scrutiny of mortgage lenders. As a result, state and federal agencies have created
protections for home buyers that were not in place a year ago. The U.S. Federal Reserve, for example, has proposed a plan to require lenders to confirm a borrower’s ability to afford a mortgage before making a loan and establishing guidelines for explaining subprime loan terms in order to better educate buyers. Many new public education and awareness campaigns, such as Freddie Mac’s “Don’t Borrow Trouble®” campaign, have been developed to help you achieve the dream of homeownership without the financial risks that led so many borrowers into trouble in recent years.
Monday, June 16, 2008
- In a short sale, homesellers ask their lender to accept a buyer’s offer that is less than the amount needed to pay off the balance of the mortgage. Lenders who agree to a short sale also typically agree to forgive the remaining debt.
- Many call short sales a win-win for lenders and homeowners. The homeowner avoids foreclosure and banks avoid the cost of carrying the property through the lengthy foreclosure process, not to mention the hassles of selling an empty property in a market saturated with other foreclosures.
- On average, lenders lose approximately 19 percent of a mortgage’s value with a short sale but lose an average of 40 percent on mortgages that proceed to foreclosure, according to one source.
- The problem with short sales? Like other foreclosure mitigation efforts, the challenge is in determining which financial entity “owns” the loan and, thus, has the final say on a short sale offer. Banks also have been slow to ramp up internal processes needed to review and approve short sale packages. Delays and last-minute dickering often prolong or even derail transaction closings and creates frustration for potential homebuyers and their real estate agents.
To read more on short sales check out this great article:
See you around the neighborhood!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
During the first three months of 2008, 35 percent of county households could afford to buy their first home, the California Association of Realtors said. That compares with 21 percent a year earlier and 28 percent during the last quarter of 2007.
The latest figures are the highest since the association began tracking housing affordability in 2003 - another hopeful sign for Southern California's troubled real-estate market, analysts say.
"I would personally wait a year, but if you are a buyer, this would be a good time to buy a home," said Dennis Torres, director of real estate operations for Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management.
Tuesday's report came a day after Data Quick Information Systems reported that house and condo sales were 22 percent higher in April than in March. Most of the sales were in areas hard hit by foreclosures, with homes less than $500,000 accounting for 66 percent of sales.
He cautioned, however, that worries about inflation could result in higher interest rates that would again put a drag on affordability.
"We haven't been visited by our old friend rapid inflation, but he's out there and coming to dinner," Torres said.
The association's First-time Buyer Housing Affordability Index reflects the percentage of households that can afford to buy an entry-level home - one priced at 85percent of the median price in their area.
That factored out to a $390,450 home in Los Angeles County in the first quarter. A family would have had to earn $74,320 a year to qualify for it.
The association index also demonstrates how the current market conditions vary from community to community.
For example, affordability ranged from a high of 64 percent in the High Desert, which includes the Antelope Valley, to a low of 29 percent in Monterey.
"Essentially we're working our way out of the downturn and coming back up," said Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist of the Los Angeles-based association.
"The moderate to low part of the market - under $500,000 - is where you are seeing the activity. People are responding to lower prices," she said.
And mortgage rates are helping, too. The rate for a 30-year fixed-rate loan averaged 5.65 percent in this year's first quarter, compared with 6.3 percent a year earlier.
The association report also showed that:
The monthly mortgage payment for an entry-level home in Los Angeles County, including taxes and insurance, was $2,480.
Statewide, 44 percent of households could afford an entry-level home in the first quarter, compared with 33 percent during the last quarter of 2007. The increase was attributed to a 1percentage-point decrease in interest rates and a 14.3 percent drop in the entry-level median home price.
Statewide, the minimum household income needed to buy an entry-level home costing $356,350 was $67,830. The monthly payment would be $2,260.
In Ventura County, 43 percent of households earned the $86,400 a year needed to buy an entry-level home costing $453,890. The monthly mortgage payment would be $2,880.
In the Inland Empire, hard hit by foreclosures and price declines, 57 percent of households earned the $46,450 needed to buy an entry-level house costing $244,000. The payment would be $1,550.
And that's good news for someone looking for a first home.
"I think they are going to make a dent in the supply. Is it going to evaporate overnight? Absolutely not. It will be a slow workout," she said. "We're still into the wave of foreclosures."
Friday, May 23, 2008
The latest data from the housing market shows that sellers, after months and years in denial, are finally giving in to reality and slashing prices.
There is a distance still to go. There may even be a lot to go. But the process, long delayed, is now well underway.
The National Association of Realtors on Tuesday released its long-awaited report on prices from the first quarter. The price drops were startling.
In many of the former hot spots, from Florida to Nevada to the Californian "Inland Empire," single-family home prices plunged by 20% to nearly 30% in a year.
Even more remarkable was how far prices had fallen just from the previous three months. In greater Las Vegas, for example, single-family home prices are down about 20% compared to the first quarter of 2007… and about 9% compared to last fall. In certain parts of California, the quarter-on-quarter declines are more than 10%. And there are similar pictures from Boston, Mass., to Tucson, Ariz., to, well, lots of places in Florida.
Nationwide, the decline from the previous quarter was about 5%, says the NAR. And this, ultimately, is good news. We know prices have to fall. The sooner it happens, the quicker the market can clear. We may not be at that stage known on Wall Street as "capitulation," but there is more than a whiff of it in the air.
Far too many people in the real estate market have spent far too long insisting that denial is just a river in Egypt. They refused to accept there was a bubble on the way up, and refused to admit it even on the way back down. (There's a few still out there: Last week I got an angry email from a broker who blamed the whole slump on "the media".)
It is simply remarkable how slow this bubble has been to deflate. That, bluntly, is part of the problem.
In the Las Vegas area, for example, NAR data shows single home prices peaked in early 2006. Yet by the middle of last year, when everyone and their Aunt Sally already knew we were deep into the biggest housing bust since the Great Depression, prices had only been cut by around 4%.
No wonder sales volumes collapsed and the number of unsold homes skyrocketed.
You can imagine what fantasies the sellers were clinging to. "Well, two years ago this home was worth half a million bucks."
The problem: So what? It doesn't matter what prices were three or two years ago. We were in a bubble. Market psychologists call this "anchoring", because people anchor their expectations to the past, and it's a fallacy.
Just five years ago, the same home sold for $270,000 and 10 years ago just $200,000. Are those relevant anchor points too?
Fact: Even though Las Vegas single family home prices are down about a quarter from their peak, NAR data shows they are still nearly 45% above their levels in early 2003.
The picture is similar in other former hot spots.
It remains to be seen how much further prices have to fall.
As always, quality and scarcity command a premium. But remember that a burst bubble is still a burst bubble and everything is affected.
Cisco Systems is a top quality technology company with real profits, but its shares still fell about 80% in the dotcom crash.
There is no desperate rush to buy real estate. (The best way to play the real estate crash was to buy the homebuilding stocks when they bottomed out in January, as written in this column at the time.)
But sellers have at least returned to the bargaining table. If you are in the market for a home, it is time, cautiously, to take a look and, maybe, see if you can play, "Let's Make A Deal."
Copyright: By Brett Arends, The Wall Street Journal
Buyers it's time to start shopping around, especially you first timers!!! As I mentioned before inventory is high, interest rates are low and FHA is going STRONG... Don't miss out on a great opportunity, FIND YOUR NEW HOME!!!
This Sunday, May 25, I will be holding an OPEN HOUSE at 800 Pacific Ave #305 between 12 - 4pm. Great buy @ $179,500! Scroll down to view slideshow of property.
See you around the neighborhood
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Easier to Qualify - Because FHA insures your mortgage, lenders are more willing to give loans with lower qualifying requirements so its easier for you to qualify.
Less than Perfect Credit - Even if you have had credit problems, such as bankruptcy, its easier for you to qualify for an FHA loan than a conventional loan.
Low Downpayment - We have a low 3% downpayment, and that money can come from a family member, employer or charitable organization. Other loans don't allow this.
Costs Less - Many times, FHA loans have competitive interest rates because the loans are insured by the Federal Government. Always compare an FHA loan with other loan types.
Help You Keep Your Home - The FHA has been around since 1934 and will continue to be here to protect you when the others walk away. Should you encounter hard-times after buying your home, FHA has many options to help keep you in your home and avoid foreclosure.
There is more to buying your home then the monthly house payment. Why not ask for an FHA loan that will help you buy your house and keep it too? Tell your lender you want an FHA loan for all the reasons above- FHA is a wise choice.
This is truly a great opportunity for all you first time buyers. The inventory is high, interest rates are low, aggressive sellers that NEED to sell, and FHA going strong. I'm noticing much more movement in the market, especially here in our neck of the woods, meaning that prices will not stay low for too much longer. ACT NOW, real estate will ALWAYS appreciate over time! For more info contact me and I will walk you through the qualifying process.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
First Time Buyers' Dos And Don'ts
If you are a first time home buyer, you have a lot to learn.
Working from a blank slate you must build an understanding of the housing market, determine what you can afford, land a loan and hone in on a home that's a good fit for your lifestyle.
The transaction will likely become your largest asset ever so there's little room for error.
It is a daunting task, but you can ease your concerns if you take the process step-by-step, watching your footing as you move along the path toward the American Dream.
Below is a list of "Dos and Don'ts" to help first timers turn that stress into the self-confidence you'll need to move closer to your first home.
The list focuses on areas first-timers typically stumble over in their initial home buying attempt. Knowing what you could face will help you avoid some of those trip ups.
DO examine your credit standing. You need to know your credit standing. You may need to request corrections if there are errors. You may need to adjust your habits if your credit behavior is less than sterling. And you need to take those steps before seeking a loan. Your credit report is free from AnnualCreditReport.com, the federally regulated place to go. You can stagger retrieval of your credit report from each of the big three credit bureaus, getting one from a different agency every four months. Your report is free, but you may have to pay a nominal fee for your credit score (a numerical scoring of your creditworthiness) depending upon your state law and other factors.
DO explore a mortgage pre-approval or commitment. An early green light on a loan will put you in a good negotiation position when you find your dream home. It will also help you shop within your budget.
DO line up a dream team of professionals. You may need a real estate agent, attorney, mortgage broker, home inspector and others to be your professional eyes during your home search.
DO buy for your lifestyle. Your first home may not be your last, so try to anticipate how long you'll live in your home and buy based on plans for the duration. Raising kids, starting a business, taking on a new job, housing Grandma could all impact the size or type of home you need first.
DO heed housing priorities. Separate your "wants" from your "needs" so you know where you can compromise to stay on budget.
DON'T get taken by the first house or neighborhood you see. Keep an open mind and spend sufficient time finding the right fit in a house and neighborhood for your needs.
DON'T buy more than you can afford. Lenders will often loan you as much as your financial condition warrants, but that may not be what you can comfortably afford. It's better to live with a comfortable mortgage on a smaller home than to struggle every month paying a mortgage on a house with more room than you really need. The down payment, closing costs, monthly expenses and taxes must in total all be within your income and savings range.
DON'T treat your home like a stock portfolio. Homes appreciate and depreciate in cycles which often aren't so predictable. Don't expect your home's value to skyrocket. Buy a home because you need a roof over your head, not for a quick profit.
DON'T try to time the market. Pinpointing the bottom of the market almost always happens after the market has started to turn up. How, otherwise, can you see the bottom? Focus on personal lifestyle needs, not market trends, in terms of timing your home buy.
DON'T sign for a confusing mortgage. Shop around for the best loan, read every detail of your loan contract and get some help understanding terms and provisions that confuse you. Avoid exotic, "creative financing," multi-option loans you don't understand. Again, lifestyle is key. Get a loan that fits.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
How can you stand out in your neighborhood?
Spring is here, so put this high on your list of priorities. In the past, the options for customizing the exterior features of a house may have been few and far between. But today, everything from siding to roofing is available in a wide range of styles, colors and designs. If you’re looking to customize your castle with ease, concentrate your efforts on a few of the following areas:
• Trim. Exterior trim can give your home a
graceful, appearance: Victorian, contemporary or
traditional American, depending on the taste of the
market at the given time.
• Siding. If you want to give your home a fast and
major makeover, consider replacing its siding.
Available in a vast array of colors and textures, siding
can make your home stand out and increase its value.
Vinyl and fiber cement are two materials that are easy
to maintain and will last over time.
• Decking. Outdoor living is a hot trend this
year and adding a deck is one of the most dramatic
ways to customize your home. Since many decks
are made with easy-to-clean materials such as
weather-resistant composite decking, they’re easy
to maintain as well.
• Railing. To match a new deck or patio,
consider adding a railing where the core is made of
a durable composite material, capped with
colonial-white or desert-tan PVC for a lasting,
freshly painted look. Composite and steel balusters
allow you to further customize the look of the
railing and decking.
• Roofing.A set of new shingles can add a touch
of personality to your home or improve its curb
appeal if you’re planning on selling it. Since the roof
covers the most area of a home’s exterior, it makes a
big difference in first impressions.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
One way to save up for large purchases is to buy yourself gift cards in small increments in advance, says a reader at personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly. So if you're saving up for an iPhone, for instance, buy yourself a $20 gift card to the Apple store every few weeks. Editor J.D. Roth writes:
You can use "reverse credit" to save for more than just large items. You might use it to budget for your morning coffee, for example. If you want to limit your spending at Starbucks, put a fixed amount ($20 maybe) on a card at the beginning of the month. When that card is drained, you know you've spent your coffee budget. At the start of next month, put another $20 on the card.
Use "Reverse Credit" to Stick to Your Budget [Get Rich Slowly]
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Since passed by overwhelming Capitol Hill majorities in January, there has been much talk regarding the economic stimulus package. Yes, it will cost $168 billion, but what does it actually do for individuals?
The stimulus package is designed to help the country moderate the worst effects of a slowing economy and perhaps even avoid a recession. The idea is to encourage spending and with more spending to increase economic activity. While the theory looks good on paper, it will likely take months or years to know if it actually works.
From a personal perspective the January stimulus package has five major components that will immediately impact individuals with an interest in real estate.
1. Checks from Uncle Sam: According to the White House, taxpayers can receive rebates of up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples. A minimum of $300 per person and $600 per couple will be available to those with at least $3,000 of earned income. This relief will be available to everyone with adjusted gross income less than $75,000 for singles and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. The rebates will be phased out for taxpayers above those income thresholds.
2. Additional rebates will be mailed out for those with children. Everyone eligible for a rebate would also receive an additional $300 per child. For example, this would mean up to $1,800 of tax relief for an eligible couple with two children.
3. Reduced Income Taxes for Low-Income Wage Earners: The legislation says that 2008 taxes will be eliminated on the first $6,000 of taxable income for individual taxpayers and the first $12,000 of taxable income for couples. The tax rate used to be 10 percent on such income.
4. FHA mortgage loan limits will more than double in some cases. The usual limit in high-cost areas in the lower 48 states will rise from $362,790 to $729,750. Such financing allows buyer to purchase homes with 3 percent down.
5. Conventional loan limits will increase. The maximum size of a "conforming" loan will go from $417,000 to $729,750.
While the benefits for individuals look good, there are some caveats to consider.
First, those rebate checks are a one-time deal. While the government hopes that individuals will use the money for spending, many recipients will use the cash to pay down debts. Paying off bills can be a good use of your cash because it can mean lower monthly costs and better credit scores, thus lowering interest costs when you borrow to finance a home or car.
Second, if you want to buy or refinance with the new class of "conventional jumbo" mortgages, be aware that the FHA and conventional loan limits have only been raised for 2008. It's possible that the old limits will be reinstated in January 2009, so if you want a larger mortgage start planning now.
Third, while the conventional loan limit applies nationwide, the maximum amount you can borrow under the FHA program varies by location. In other words, the biggest loans will not be available everywhere. For specifics regarding your area, please speak with a mortgage counselor.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Now April is approaching quickly and we all know what that means TAX TIME!!! eeekkk!
- Home acquisition mortgage loan fees.
- Home improvement loan fees.
- Loan fees paid to refinance a home loan ( or borrow against other real estate).
- When refinancing, deduct any undeducted loan fees.
- If you bought or sold property in the past year remember to deduct prorated real estate taxes.
- Deduct prorated mortgage interest in the year of property purchase or sale.
- Mortgage prepayment penalty.
- When land rent payment qualify as interest deductions.
- Home construction loan interest.
- Deduct prepaid property taxes and mortgage interest.
compliments of Fidelity National Title
For a more detailed explanation please contact me....
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
- Leverage: Stocks-you put your money in a little piece of a company. House-you put your money to get all of the house.
- Tax benefits: All I can say here is SUBSIDIES! Thanks Uncle Sam. Don't forget the tax write-offs, interest rate deductions, and depreciation.
- Control: Remember when you buy stocks, you are paying some CEO approximately 500 times the average worker's salary to make decisions with YOUR money and well I don't want to bring up ENRON, oops I just did. That's just one example we could go on and on and on about corporate abuse or should I just say THEFT! When you purchase a home, you have complete control of what you buy, what you pay and where you live. You also have the ablility to increase the value with repairs and updates!
- Value: Unless some act of nature or a major castastrophe occurs, your house will not become worthless. Yes, some are losing a few percent this year; however you/they will make it up. Housing has lost value only one year out of 35, so don't freak out!
Keep this in mind....when it rains, which would you rather have over your head, a roof or a stock certificate?
Well as I stated, all my efforts are in the real estate biz; however I do have another project I am working on and that is a wonderful community website. It offers a community calendar, discussion forum, local government & school info, free classifieds and much more...Check it out
Below is a little peak at me and some friends this past weekend at a great event held by Sam @ HB Skin Spa. Check it out and I'll see you around the neighborhood!
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Upgrade - Invest in making a room like a bathroom or kitchen "FABULOUS" in order to start a sort of buzz..."Did you see the home with the whirlpool tub?"
Disclosures - Get a preliminary inspection, so that you can improve the condition of your home before a buyer views it. Keep receipts and provide buyer with estimates on upgrades. Buyers will appreciate your proactive approach and above all trust in you.
Be Realistic - Price your home competitively with other like homes in the immediate area. Keep in mind that the market changes rapidly, so a three month comp. check is much more reliable than a 6 month. Also ask your real estate professional to show you homes that have been on the market for sometime or have expired; nine times out of ten the asking price is what drove buyers away!
Well that's it for now, see you around the neighborhood!
Monday, January 28, 2008
This was the highlight of our weekend. The Closet Ball was a fundraising event for the CARE program that provides services to our very own. BOY did what he does best (sit in judgement of others) and with the help of Sageweb created this great video. Watch and enjoy!!!
Monday, January 21, 2008
This beautiful home is being offered to the right buyer. For more details contact me...
Monday, January 14, 2008
Saturday morning turned out to be quite a day. We visited CARP for an early morning boost and ended up wet and a bit sore. Deb and Val talked BOY and I into kayaking and it was a hoot, ever try to keep up with a hyper diva who's Banana Republic linen pants are dirty and damp? It's a miracle we didn't turn over!
That evening we attended the wonderful screening of The Bible Tells Me So at the First Congregational Church of Long Beach. I'm not going to give any details; however this is a MUST see for everyone. Educational, emotional and inspiring!!! The turnout was extraordinary and the mingling afterward was both fun and educational with displays set up by many of our local congregations that cater to everyone in our community.
I'm working on some great properties and will be posting at least one of them in the next few days. If you are interested in a FREE market analysis of your home or investment properties, please don't hesitate to contact me, I will be happy to get you a detailed report. If you are a first time buyer, I have access to some great programs that will assist you and we can get started in finding your home.
Friday, January 4, 2008
REDUCED to $399,000
Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Well 2008 is finally here, BOY and I celebrated with a delicious five course dinner at Primes. The ambience was quite spectacular, the entertainment was tall and hunky and the service was superb (thanks Kristen). This year is sure to be a hoot; being that we have a new addition to our family and that BOY is becoming such the socialite about town. As far as resolutions go, the only thing I promised myself is to limit expectations and increase initiative.
Last weekend we visited a wonderfully humbling rowing group that find different ways of doing things, because they are differently- ABLED. This group was started by Angela Madsen, who is herself differently - abled and is currently rowing across the Atlantic. AMAZING!!!
Here is my pic of the week:
Offered @ $300,000 WOW!
Contact me for more info: