Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beware of Loan Modification Programs

The Department of Real Estate recently issued a fraud warning alerting consumers about loan modification scams and informing consumers of what they can do to protect themselves. The alert is available in both English and Spanish. Last July, the DRE had fewer than 10 complaints involving loan modification companies but today the department has 750 pending investigations. In addition, since last October, the DRE has filed more than 200 desist and refrain orders. A list of the companies and persons the DRE has filed an action against can be viewed at

It is worth noting that not all firms who collect advance fees for loan modifications services do so illegally the DRE said. In general, only licensed real estate brokers and attorneys operating within the scope of their license may collect advance fees. Real estate brokers must have their advance fee agreement reviewed by the DRE prior to its use to ensure it is compliant with real estate law.

C.A.R. advises members to carefully look at any program that may appear to have a government seal. C.A.R. is not aware of any government programs that have exclusive areas for which you have to pay to participate, and cautions all members to be on the alert for schemes seeking funds from Realtors or consumers with no value, or that may be misleading or unlawful.

The above information was provided by the California Association of Realtors web page.

My 2 Cents - Almost (but not really) unbelievable that there are so many people taking advantage of people who are already financially down but there it is. Check it out on line, with the DRE or with a trusted Realtor before you give away your financial information or money to someone you don't know. Use caution and common sense and get help from a trusted source.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Bank Owned Property in Gilroy

750 Carla Way
What a great price - $289,900 for a spacious 2 story home with 1924 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and located on a spacious lot with 7200 square feet. Home is older, 44 years old and needs some tlc but has potential. Has some of the charm of an older home with hardwood floors inside and covered patio outside. Located over by the Las Animas Park, this bank owned property should move quickly.
My 2 cents - Be aware that banks often add their own contract to the transaction which puts some of the terms in their favor and goes back to the era of 'buyer beware'. Often this means contingencies are removed automatically and any extension of close of escrow ends up costing the buyer. Read the fine print!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Leslie Appleton-Young speaks to Realtors

Chief Economist for the California Association of Realtors Speaks Out

Leslie presented results from her recent survey of California homebuyers and sellers. Here are some of the highlights, insights that might aid you in your own decision making in navigating through the market:

1) Many of today's buyers and sellers are real estate rookies - 38% of buyers surveyed in 2009 were first-timers. That's up from 12% in 2002 and a historic high. 44% of sellers in 2009 were first-timers. That's a lot of people that have never been through a transaction. If you're anxious or confused about something, chances are the people on the other side of the deal are too. Be patient and recognize both sides are working toward the same goal of a closed transaction.

2) The market may be stabilizing, but buyer and seller expectations are far from matched. 70% of buyers surveyed in 2009 reported making one or more offers before closing on a property. 47% of buyers who had transactions fall apart cited seller unwillingness to accept comprises as the reason. If you're a seller this is yet another sign that buyers are out there - if you price right.

3) Buyers are not using the newspaper. Only 12% of buyers surveyed in 2009 used the newspaper to find their home. Moreover, a strong marketing plan ranked as the #1 reason sellers cited for choosing their agent. If you're a seller, don't get hung up on having your home in the paper - it's unlikely to make any impact on the sale of your home - but do make sure an agent has online bases covered.

My 2 cents - This market is still not quite settled back into balance at the same time the very nature of how homes are marketed and how consumers find them is changing. Keep an open mind and look toward a more efficient marketplace in the future.

Stay posted!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Morning Statistics

Monday Statistics

Good morning South County! Here are your weekly updates on what is happening in your neighborhoods. Feel free to contact me if you want more specific information. As of this week:

Morgan Hill has 148 active listings and 109 sale pendings

Gilroy has 136 active listings and 199 sale pendings

San Martin has 31 active listings and 15 sales pendings

Area 1 (all of the above) has 313 active listings and 323 sale pendings

Looks like inventory came down a little last week and pendings sales kept the status quo. Could be the rise in interest rates is contributing to the slow down. However, Gilroy is showing a little more activity all around than the the rest of Area 1. I'll keep you posted.

Stay tuned for regular updates.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Bank Owned Property on the Market in Morgan Hill

New Listing located at 955 Barrett Avenue in Morgan Hill
I don't usually include maps of properties but this one is important as you can see because of the location of the house to the freeway. We all discovered in our current market, Buyers are not so forgiving of freeway noise, high tension wires or anything that makes a home less than perfect. So what might be a good deal at the moment could turn into a problem later on down the road when you decide to sell. This is a 5 bedroom, 3 bath home with 1673 square feet located on a 4356 square foot lot and is only 3 years old. Pretty home in a new neighborhood but make sure you plan on living in this area for a long time or the price of $424,900 might not seem like such a good buy. Also, check out the schools in terms of where this home is located as Buyers are also very concerned with schools and their scores.
My 2 cents - Make sure you are factoring in resale later on down the line to make sure you are getting what you want now as well as a home that will allow you to make movement in your life later on down the line.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Relocating due to new job?

How to make a good decision about buying a home in a new area...

With the current economic situation , many home buyers have emerged as well as people relocating for new jobs. Finding the right home which also has the best chance of holding or increasing it's value can be challenging. There has been some study about areas where homes retain their values best in tough times and what factors they have in common.

For example, working with Realtors who are experienced and knowledgeable about an area can help with a good decision. Living closer to an urban area (i.e. where the jobs are) can increase the value of a home. Long commutes with high gas bills not only take their toll on homeowners but studies have found that prices have depreciated almost double compared to areas located closer to where the jobs are located.

Towns where zoning regulations make it more difficult to build have experienced smaller price declines than towns that experienced huge building booms in recent times. "Prices are more likely to go higher if you can't expand supply," says Danie McCue, research analyst the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. Towns nestled against barriers such as large lakes or protected wetlands also usually limit expansion.

Buyers can call towns or county planning offices and ask how many acres of vacant land are in town, how much of it is zoned for residences and the maximum number of homes that can be built. Requesting a copy of the town's master plan also should tell buyers how much the housing stock is set to expand in the next 10 years.

Homes in towns with stores, banks, and movie theaters are more likely to hold value than those that are nearly all residential, as people like to live near these services and jobs and provide the town a stronger tax base to fund public service items.

My 2 cents - Do your homework and find a realtor you can trust!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Bank Listing in Gilroy

6320 Berrybush Court, Gilroy

Not your typical REO home, good condition without needing a lot of work or TLC. Single story, valuted ceilings, open floor plan with ceiling fans and light fixtures. 3 full bathrooms, indoor laundry room, back yard with patio, hot tub, storage sheds and room for garden. Only 11 years old and good location on the west side of Gilroy, near Gavilan Colleage. This is a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with 2045 square feet and located on a 6098 square foot lot. Should get offers soon and change status within the week but I will keep you posted.

Just for information purposes, four homes came on the market in Gilroy yesterday (and this was one of them). I did promise to keep you posted on my predictions and the home I wrote about last week at 17200 Birch Way in Morgan Hill did go under contract and is due to close the 15th of August. Stay tuned for updates!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Eagle Ridge Sale

Sometimes Short Sales Actually Work!

This sale closed last week in Eagle Ridge and I was the Selling Agent for this transaction. My clients and I wrote the offer which was accepted by the Seller early February. I have to tell you it felt like forever, living through the process. The hardest aspect of a short sale is the unknown. Even when you have a listing agent who is working with you and upfront, you don't know what is going on with the lender and their behind the scenes. Or if anything at all is going on with the lender. From an agents perspective, you see an incredible lack of organization and precedent that everyone is struggling with. Waiting for a short sale to come together is an incredible act of faith on the part of everyone but especially the Buyers. The market in February was very different than it is now when we have to deal with limited inventory, competitive situations, rising interest rates, time running out on the $8000 tax credit. Back in February we were still trying to decide if the market had hit bottom.

I remember showing this property to my Buyers. At one point they discovered the balcony on the master suite and that is where I found them with their arms around each other looking out onto the green and the views. Something clicked for me and it just felt like we had found their home. Although we never cut our options off and continued to look at the market and available homes, we stayed in there and never let go of the dream. This one came true and I have very happy Buyers who just happen to be great people.

Short sales can be tough, on everyone. There are ways to evaluate the risk and whether it makes sense to continue in the process but there is still an element of unknown that has to be dealt with. I know it was mostly hard work but I also feel there was an element of luck which I am very grateful for. It's a great feeling to be able to make something work and have a happy ending.

My 2 cents - Look at your short sale situation and weigh the pros and cons. Who is your lender, how many loans are you dealing with, are the agents being aggressive in the process or passive, are people communicating, do the agents know what they are doing, do you have all the available information. And don't cut off your options. Play it straight but make sure you are playing it smart and keeping your options open.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

138 Days Left on the $8000 Tax Credit!

$8000 Tax Credit for Home Buyers

Unexpected, unusual and great to take advantage of is the $8000 tax credit. You are eligible if you are a first time homebuyer or have not owned a principal residence in the last three years. This is an $8000 gift from the federal government. If you qualify and buy a home while the program is available, you'll get $8000 back with your tax credit. If your adjusted gross income is more than $75,000 (or $150,000 for joint filers), then your credit will begin to shrink, depending upon your income. Also, the tax credit is for $8000 OR 10% of the sales price (if you buy a home worth less than $80,000 then you'll get a credit of 10% of that price).

There is a clock ticking on this credit. Your purchase has to be completed within January 1st, 2009 to November 30th, 2009. You will receive the tax credit after you buy your home. You can't use it for a down payment or other closing costs. But, for example, if you close on a house next month, you can file an amended tax return and get the $8000 right away. You do not have to wait until next year!

The tax credit is available for principal home purchases throughout the United States but is only for primary residences (not vacation property). The Administration and Congress created the tax credit to motivate buying and get the economy rolling again. Approximately 30 years ago during another economic downturn, the government offered $2000 tax credits and it helped get the economy back on tract at that time. An extra $8000 can really mean a lot to people all across the country.

P.S. Don't forget - allow 30 to 60 days to finalize your home purchase before the November 30th deadline.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Statistics

Monday Morning Update!

Good morning South County! Here are your weekly updates on what is happening in your neighborhoods. Feel free to contact me if you want more specific information. As of this week:

Morgan Hill has 157 active listings and 101 sale pendings

Gilroy has 132 active listings and 206 sale pendings

San Martin has 33 active listings and 15 sale pendings

Area 1 (all of the above) has 320 active listings and 322 sale pendings

Overall, last week our listing count increased while sale pendings decreased. I know two of my sales closed last week, one a home at Eagle Ridge in Gilroy (beautiful home on the golf course) and my La Bella listing in Morgan Hill. The Eagle Ridge transaction was a short sale which was accepted by the Seller in the beginning of February - it took 5 months to close! And my listing at 15665 La Bella Court (see photo) started out slow and then started to get multiple interest, which is indicative of any good listing right now. There is a lot of market activity right now and a lot of competition.

Stay tuned for regular updates!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Bank Owned Property in Gilroy

Seven year old home at 8801 Zinnia Street in Gilroy just came on the market. This home has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and 1892 square feet, is located on a 5343 square foot lot and is an attached home. Photos show it in good condition both inside as well as out. The price is very attractive at $341,900 - this is a very competitive price range and a good price for this home. So we'll watch and see how fast the status changes to pending. This bank is requiring proof of the earnest money deposit as well as a preapproval letter from a lender but is not requiring a buyer to use their lending department (some banks want a buyer to be preapproved with them but can't insist someone uses their company). Most banks will include an addendum with terms that protect the bank and limit the rights of the buyer - make sure your read the fine print! It usually applies to timelines for the buyer to perform and clarifies the limited knowledge a bank would have about a property. Transactions with banks are often as-is but I am told it doesn't have to be that way. Most banks will pay for repairs, just not up front so it depends upon whether the listing agent has the ability to deal with getting the money ahead of time.

My 2 cents - Make sure you read that addendum and don't be so quick to give up your rights.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Update on Tenant Information

C.A.R. Opposing Bill to Repeal Sunset on 60-Day Notice Requirement

Current law requires an owner of a residential dwelling to give at least 60-days' notice when tenants have been in occupancy more than 12 months, and at least 30 days' notice prior to terminations if any tenant or resident has resided in the dwelling for less than one year. SB 290 (Leno) would delete the January 1, 2010 sunset days on this 60-day notice mandate, which if left in place would repeal that requirement. C.A.R. continues to oppose SB 290 requesting amendments to require tenants to give the same 60 Days' notice that is currently required for residential rental property owners. SB 290 is currently pending on the Assembly Floor.

My 2 Cents - I think this is good information for landlords who need to be updated about the current laws. Stay tuned for more updates and changes regarding this law.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

C.A.R.'s 2009 Survey of California Home Buyers

Favorable home prices, record-low interest rates, and the belief that rates will rise in the near future were the primary motivators leading home buyers to purchase in 2009 compared with last year, according to C.A.R.'s '2009 Survey of California Home Buyers' released this week. Sixty-eight percent of buyers said price decreases motivated them to buy a home, while 39 percent reported low interest rates helped them move to a better location. Twenty-three percent claimed the likelihood that rates will move up as the motivating factor.

"After back-to-back years of sharp declines, home sales in California rebounded in 2008 and early 2009," said C.A.R. President James Liptak. "The increase reflected the combination of favorable prices, low mortgage rates and home buyer tax credits, fueled primarily by sales of distressed properties that accounted for more than half of the state's transactions. Housing affordability has improved dramatically in response to the decline in home prices along with historically low mortgage rates, creating a tremendous opportunity for home buyers in California."

Forty-nine percent of all buyers purchased a home through a traditional market sale, while 38 percent purchased a REO/bank-owned property, according to the survey. Reflecting the difficulty in closing short sales -- properties selling for less than the loan amount -- only 13 percent of buyers purchased a short-sale property. Home buyers who purchased a REO or bank-owned property experienced the highest level of difficulty in obtaining financing, compared with a more traditional transaction. They rated the level of difficulty as 8.9 (on a scale of 1 to 10 representing the greatest level of difficulty in obtaining financing) compared with a 7.7 for home buyers with a traditional market sale and 7.6 for short-sale home buyers.

My 2 Cents - Thought this would be interesting information provided by C.A.R. although most of the above is not surprising. The 13 percent for short sale transactions does surprise me because of the volume of contracts written on short sales as opposed to the actual closed sales. Puts some perspective on the frustration of dealing with this kind of transaction.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Another New Morgan Hill Listing
This home is located at 17200 Birch Way in Morgan Hill which is over in the Greenleaf subdivision. 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths with 1220 Square Feet on a 7020 Square Foot lot. Looks like a cute, modest home with good use of the backyard, large rear yard with pergola and lawn. Home has pride of ownership, dual pane windows and tile floors and is located in the Nordstrom attendance area (careful of this - location doesn't always guarantee placement). Worth checking out but seems a little high compared to the listing at 155 Foothill Court which we looked at yesterday. Right now there are 108 homes under contract and pending close, healthy amount of buyer activity. I'll keep you posted on these homes and let you know when they sell. This is the price range that is moving right now as entry level buyers have opportunities due to lower prices and great interest rates (even with the recent increases) along with some of the current loan programs and tax breaks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Listing in Morgan Hill

New Listing at 155 Foothill Court in Morgan Hill

This 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath home looks cute with 1463 Square Feet on a 7440 Square Foot Lot. This is an older home of 46 years but has been well maintained and updated - hardwood floors, crown molding & base, ceiling fans, attic fan, remodeled bathrooms, wood burning fireplace, double paned windows, recessed lighting, newly covered patio, newly painted interior & exterior. This is a good price range for this market and sounds like it has been very well maintained. The only negative that I see right off is the location which is right by the cemetary which turns a lot of people off (but not all). I'll keep you posted and let you know how long it lasts on the market. Right now it's been on less than a week. Also, this is not bank owned or a short sale - which is a plus in this market.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday Morning Update!

Monday Statistics

Good morning South County! Here are your weekly updates on what is happening in your neighborhoods. Feel free to contact me if you want more specific information. As of this week:

Morgan Hill has 147 active listings and 109 sale pendings

Gilroy has 125 active listings and 212 sale pendings

San Martin has 33 active listings and 12 sale pendings

Area 1 (all of the above) has 303 active listings and 303 sale pendings

During the month of June, there were 50 closed sales in Morgan Hill, 55 in Gilroy, 6 in San Martin and 111 for the whole of Area 1 – that’s more activity and closed sales than we had in May, still pretty good and holding strong. Inventory continues to decrease and the quality of the listings in general is not that good across the board. Entry level homes are getting multiple offers and the market is some places (and some price ranges) are very competitive. There is a lot of activity in the market right now even with the rise in interest rates. More news to come - keep watching.

Stay tuned for regular updates!