Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New listing La Canada Flintridge

4318 Bel Aire Drive - Offered at $1,595,000

This is a beautifully remodeled four bedroom home. It's open this Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 pm. Stop by and say "Hi!"

More details:
virtual tour
listing details

We think you'll like it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

GMAC Home Services Reports Sale

Well, previously we told you that GMAC was scaling down it's residential lending division.

Now, the news is that GMAC Home Services has been sold to Brookfield Residential Property Services. Read the press release here.

The sign of things to come? Yes. We've seen offices close or combine offices, long-time family real estate offices sell to larger firms --- all just to stay in business.

It's not yesterday's real estate business ... it's how we do business in the future.

At least, that's our opinion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

August New Housing Starts Decline

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that new housing starts for the month of August were down 6.2% over July. In short, building permits, new housing starts and housing completion numbers were down.

Good news - bad news? Perhaps. The bad news is that the numbers are down. Builders are hurting. The good news is that the resale market may benefit since fewer new homes are being built.

The U. S. Census Bureau and H.U.D. press release is here: press release.

At least, that's our opinion.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Federal Reserve Leaves Rate Steady

The Federal Reserve announced that it is keeping the federal funds rate steady at 2%. Actually, many were expecting/hoping for a rate cut.

To read the press release, go here

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mortgage Lending Times Are Changing

If you are in the market for a real estate loan, you know ... times are changing.

In a meeting today, a lender shared with us the all-too-real reality that lenders are in a state of flux. And this can severely affect both home buyers and home sellers.

What are we seeing? Lenders making changes to the rates and terms, requiring more down payment, additional documentation, etc. Changes that affect a buyer's loan during the transaction and the buyer's ability to complete a purchase.

Buyers and sellers be alert to the financing in your purchase or sale. Communication is key - with the lender and with your agent. Perhaps it would be prudent to apply for a loan with more than one lender. Get advice from your accountant or other financial advisor.

At least, that's our opinion.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mortgage Interest Rates Downward

Bankrate.com reports that for the week 9/11 to 9/17, mortgage interest rates are dropping. Actually, Bankrate.com uses the word "plummeted" on their website.

To quote - "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 40 basis points, to 6.15 percent..."

You can read for yourself here: Bankrate.com.

Should you think about refinancing? Perhaps. Many predict that mortgage interest rates may go lower. Maybe you should start your refinance application and make sure you ask your lender the question - "If rates go lower before my refinance is completed, will I get the lower rate?".

It's hard to "time the market" with respect to when will the interest rate be at it's lowest. You may want to consult with your accountant or financial advisor about refinancing.

At least, that's our opinion.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Home Foreclosure Process Explained

While the process is different throughout the United States, the California Association of Realtors has released an online primer on "Analyzing the Steps of Foreclosure" in the state of California. You might want to read about it here.

You should be able to find similar information online or through your real estate professional in your area.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

National Association Predicts 2008

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) predicts that for the rest of 2008, there will be little movement in home sales. The NAR has an index that measures what has happened in the recent past to predict the future. At this time, the NAR's chief economist,Lawrence Yun, is quoted as saying "...the long-term trend essentially flat..."

Read the press release here: here

Well, who knows what will happen in the future. You know what they say ... Hindsight is 20/20. At least, that's our opinion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Record Foreclosure Numbers Reached

The Mortgage Bankers Association announced record foreclosure statistics and increased loan delinquency rates as of the end of June, 2008.

The survey reports "...the rate of foreclosure starts and the percentage of loans in the process of foreclosure set new records." Plus the delinquency rate on residential 1 to 4 unit property loans was up from the first quarter, and also was up year-over-year.

Read more at the Mortgage Bankers Association press release

Not much of a surprise. If you're in the real estate market, you've probably seen an increased number of foreclosure homes offered for sale. We've certainly noticed it. At least, that's our opinion.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fannie Mae - Freddie Mac, and you

By now you've probably heard that the U.S. Government is going to bailout these two lending "powerhouses" (read U.S. Treasury press release. The announcement was made yesterday, but rumors had been swirling for days.

Analysts believe this move should ease tension in the lending market, and look for lower home loan interest rates in the weeks to come.

The stock market agreed with this move, moving in the positive direction.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Social Networking and Social Bookmarking

Geeze! This is really growing! The more I read online, the more I discover how powerful social bookmarking and social networking can be! But, having a real presence on these sites takes time.

Are you using it in your business? For your personal use? Share your stories with us!

Would you like to see where we are? Take a look!

Fran and Rowena on ActiveRain

Fran and Rowena on Delicious

Fran and Rowena on Digg

Fran and Rowena on LinkedIn

Fran and Rowena on My Agent Book

Fran and Rowena on My Deal Book

Fran and Rowena on Naymz.com

Fran and Rowena on Propeller

Fran and Rowena on RealtyWorld

Fran and Rowena on StumbleUpon

Fran and Rowena on WannaNetwork

Real Estate Blogger

GMAC Financial - pulling out

Call it "streamlining" (as their press release does), call it "quits" ... just call it what it is --- a sign of the times.

GMAC Financial Services has announced (press release) that the company is "... closing all 200 GMAC Mortgage retail offices, ceasing originations through the Homecomings wholesale broker channel, further curtailing business lending and international business activities, and right-sizing functional staff support. In addition, the company is evaluating strategic alternatives for the GMAC Home Services business and the non-core servicing business. These collective actions will reduce the ResCap workforce by approximately 5,000 employees, or 60 percent. Approximately 3,000 employees will receive notification this month with the majority of the remaining 2,000 reductions expected to occur by year-end."

More to come ... this is not the last of the shake-up/shake-down in the real estate-related companies.

At least, that's our opinion.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The face of real estate is changing

Is it happening in your neighborhood?

In our area, prominent real estate companies are closing or consolidating offices, small family-owned companies are closing or joining with other firms.

Who knew?

The gossip on the street is that these offices not only are not profitable today, but they have not been profitable for several years.

More support to our theory that the downturn may have started earlier than we all think.

At least, that's our opinion.

Friday, September 05, 2008

What do YOU want from your realtor?

In the study by J.D. Power and Associates (the first one done by this company), home buyers and home sellers were asked to rate their satisfaction based on three aspects of the real estate transaction - the agent, the office and the services.

According to the results, J.D. Power states "The study finds that despite the popularity of home-buying and -selling resources on the Internet, real estate agents are key to customer satisfaction with real estate companies. A large proportion of both home buyers and sellers rely on the Internet to facilitate the buying or selling process, with 68 percent of buyers saying that they used Internet tools to help them in the purchase process and 61 percent of sellers reporting that they used a Web site listing to market their home. In addition, among home sellers, online methods are the most important aspect of marketing. However, the agent factor carries the greatest importance among the factors that comprise overall satisfaction among both home buyers and sellers"

Read more in the J.D. Power and Associates press release here: J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Home Buyer/Seller StudySM

It's an interesting study, but we wonder if smaller/other companies might be disappointed that they were not included in the survey, as it is not clear from the J.D. Power press release which companies were included. On the "Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking" graphs, only larger companies are listed.

At least, that's our opinion.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Interest rates - a history

If you are watching mortgage interest rates, you might want to take a look at the history of 30 year fixed rate mortgages - Freddie Mac mortgage rate history since 1971.

If you are interested, the Freddie Mac website also has historical data for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, plus 5 and 1-year adjustable rate mortgages (look at the links at the bottom of the linked page above).

It's interesting information.

At least, that's our opinion.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Interest Rates - on the move?

While buyers are contemplating their next move, mortgage rates are up (adjustable rates) and down (fixed rates). A recent Bankrate.com survey shows fixed rate 30 year mortgages around 6.6% and adjustable rate mortgages starting around 6.28%.

Read more at Bankrate.com

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Foreclosures - a primer

What's in the spotlight? Foreclosure listings.

Foreclosures are still growing in most areas. If you are looking for these properties, may we suggest you check out RealtyTrac.

You can search for listings, and also learn more about the foreclosure process.

We are getting several calls and emails asking about foreclosure properties. Unfortunately, most people do not understand the process and the risks involved in buying a foreclosure property.

Our advice is to be informed. Read on the internet, and whenever possible, use an experienced real estate professional to assist and advise you.

At least, that's our opinion.