Saturday, November 28, 2009

Where have we been?

Come on over! Our Facebook page is constantly updated with news and information related to real estate in general, and items of interest in our real estate market area.

Become a fan!

Fran and Rowena on Facebook

Friday, July 24, 2009

National Real Estate News Equals Local Results

In case you missed it yesterday, the National Assocation of Realtors (NAR) released positive real estate market statistics that is widely credited with the rally on Wall Street that pushed the Dow to close over 9,000.

The NAR stated that "Existing-home sales rose for the third consecutive month with inventory easing and home prices declining less sharply in June". Taking this as an indication that the housing market has started to recover, the financial markets reacted accordingly.

Yes - that's exactly what has happened in our business. Sales are up over last year, more buyers are seriously "in" the market ... not just looking. We're noticing that in some price ranges in some areas, prices actually seem to be holding steady ... or even inching up a bit. This has generally been fueled by multiple offers, thereby pushing prices upward.

Further, the NAR states that "A June survey of NAR members shows 37 percent experienced at least one lost sale as a result of the new Home Valuation Code of Conduct, with seven out of 10 reporting an increased use of out-of-area appraisers. Seventy percent of NAR appraiser members said consumers were paying higher fees, while 85 percent report a perceived reduction in appraisal quality."

Yes - that's exactly what we wrote about in our blog post here: Whose Real Estate Market is it Anyway

To read more: National Association of Realtors July 23 press release.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

10210 McBroom Street, Shadow Hills 91040 - horse property for sale

Video of Fran and Rowena listing. This five bedroom residence is approximately 4,400 square feet and is located on over 40,000 square foot lot. Pool, spa and three additional guest quarters. This Shadow Hills horse property has much to offer!

For additional information, a color brochure or a confidential appointment to see this property, please call Fran and Rowena of Dilbeck Realtors at (818) 952-0077.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Whose Real Estate Market is it Anyway?

Observations from the trenches ...

If you are familiar - even vaguely familiar - with real estate terms, then you have heard the phrases "it's a buyer's market" and "it's a seller's market". Those phrases describe who has more "control" of the real estate market.

Well, today we say "it's a lender's market".

"What do you mean by that?" you ask. In our opinion, today's real estate market is "controlled" by the lenders. If the home buyer wants to get a loan, and if a home seller wants to sell their home to the buyer who has to get a loan, then both the home buyer and the home seller have to conform to the lender's requirements.

Home buyers must qualify for the loan with strict lender guidelines.

Home sellers know that their property must qualify for the loan via the appraisal, and stringent appraisal guidelines. These appraisal guidelines changed significantly this past May 1. Read more about it here: Home Valuation Code of Conduct, enhancing the independence of appraisers. The result? Strict appraisal guidelines.

So, in today's real estate market - today's "lender's market" - it's what the lenders want that determines the fate of the transaction.

At least, that's our opinion.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Catching Up on Real Estate News

It's been busy in our office. To catch you up on some of the recent real estate news:

National Association of Realtors reports sales of existing homes rise in May, giving the market it's first back-to-back months of increased sales since 2005. Can we call it a trend? Time will tell. Read more here: National Association of Realtors May Existing Home Sales

California has 90-day moratorium on foreclosures starting June 15. Do you qualify? Read more here: California Foreclosure Prevention Act

Federal Reserve leaves Fed Funds Rate atatus quo. To read more: Federal Reserve June 24 Press Release

and finally ...

The National Association of Home Builders reports sales of new homes nearly flat in May. Read more here: NAHB May New Home Sales

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home Buyers - Time for a Change?

We got an email this week. This email led to the following blog post, sharing something that is a symptom of the real estate market today.

The email was from a prospective home buyer (a couple) who had seen us online, and read reviews of us online, and emailed us stating that they wanted to work with us to buy a home.

At their (email) request, we called this prospective home buyer. In the course of the conversation it was revealed that they had made offers on several properties, only to be "beat out" by other buyers. They were frustrated, upset, confused ... wondering why this was happening. After all, it's a "buyer's market", right?

Seems the buyer was ready for a change - a change in real estate agent.

What happened in our conversation may very well have talked the buyer out of changing agents.

We explained that multiple offers is the norm in the price range and area that the buyer is considering. There's a lot of home buying competition right now. And, the competition is tough! There are many buyers with a lot of cash to use as a down payment (yes, even in today's economy). Buyers are competing on many levels with their offers - offer price, financing terms, plus other terms that differentiate each buyer.

In addition, this prospective home buyer was discouraged that the homes they were making offers on were selling for more than asking price. They were genuinely surprised by this. We explained that many distressed properties (they were looking at foreclosures) are listed at very aggressive prices, thereby encouraging multiple offers and sales prices over the list price.

The bottom line - if you feel the agent is working hard for you, continue working with that agent. We told the buyer that we would appreciate the same loyalty if it were a buyer who was working with us.

We don't know if the buyer will decide to work with us or not. But, we do know that they appreciated our input.

And, that other agent will never know that his/her buyer called us.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pending Home Sales Rise

While national home prices have been reported on the decline (reference our May 26, 2009 blog post: Home Prices Continue Decline Nationally"), the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has recently released data showing that pending home sales are up for the third month in a row.

What's leading this buyer return to the real estate market? The NAR says that "Record low mortgage interest rates boosted pending home sales for the third consecutive month, with some benefit now from the first-time buyer tax credit".

To read more: NAR Press Release: Pending Home Sales Up for Three Months in a Row.

The Federal program is "A tax credit of up to $8,000 ... available for qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009".

To learn more about this Federal program, please read here:
Federal Housing Tax Credit for First Time Home Buyers

Many states have their own "stimulus" program for home buyers.

In California, there is a tax credit for "qualified home buyers" who purchase a "qualified principal residence that has never been occupied". To learn more details about the program, read here: California Tax Credit for New Home Purchase

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Report on Mortage Application Activity

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that for the week ending June 5, 2009, higher interest rates have put applications for purchases on a steady course while applications for refinances are down.

The MBA numbers indicate that "The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 59.4 percent of total applications from 62.4 percent the previous week. This is the lowest the refinance share has been since November 2008."

Not much of a surprise here. Our home buyers are very aware of rising interest rates. Our advice to prospective home buyers: check with your lender to see how the current interest rates will affect how much you can afford to spend on a home purchase.

To read more: Mortgage Bankers Association Press Release 6/10/09

Real Estate Major Factor in Job Change

Observations from the trenches ...

In the "old" real estate market, we would get many inquiries about real estate prices from people considering a job change or transfer into our area, or into the state of California. They wanted to know how much it would cost them to buy or rent a home. Out-of-state people were usually shocked at California prices. Move to California and pay more money for less house. Sometimes pay a lot more money for a lot less house. Many people did not make the move based on the high cost of real estate. Therefore, they did not take the new job offer.

In the "new" real estate market, we are getting many calls from people wanting us to estimate the value of their California property as part of the consideration of a job change or transfer. Now people are not making the move because they are limited by the lower value of their home in today's real estate market. They cannot afford to sell their home and, perhaps, take a loss on their investment. Therefore, they are not taking the new job offer.

It's interesting, isn't it? In either market, real estate is a major factor in the job change decision. And, in either real estate market, it can be the deciding factor.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Secret Ingredient in Real Estate Today

Are you buying or selling a home? Then you certainly must know that this is a "new" real estate market. Not the same market as last year. Not the same market as at the beginning of this year, for that matter. This "new" real estate market is ever-changing and evolving. There's no "status quo" here!

The beginning of 2009 started out with a resounding thud - relatively few sales ... few buyers wanting, willing or able to take the step that would commit them to a mortgage payment. The state of the economy meant the state of the real estate market was definitely on hold.

But, with the spring has come a spring thaw in the real estate market. A more positive vibe is out there with home buyers (reference our prior post: Housing Market Opens up in Spring). And, let's face it. If the buyers aren't buying, there is no real estate market.

Which brings us to the subject of today's article. It seems that while there are buyers ready, willing and able to jump into the market, there is a new breed of buyer out there. We've posted about this before - Two Real Estate Markets.

So, what is the secret to surviving and thriving in today's "new" real estate market?
Patience is what it's all about! Easy to say, not so easy to do.

Home buyers need patience to survive the multiple offer process, and steep competition for distressed properties. Buyers may need to write several offers before becoming the successful buyer. Have patience buyers! Your turn will come!

Home sellers need a big dose of patience to survive the competition out there. "Regular" home sellers are competing with the "distressed" sellers, and prices aren't what they used to be. Home sellers are lamenting their home value lost to the economy. Buyers coming through their home, yet no offers.

In our opinion, buyers are being very selective right now. And sellers - this means you will, most likely, have to go through a lot of buyers before the right one appears. And when they do appear, and write an offer, consider it very seriously.

You may be able to use this real estate market to your advantage ... if you take a big dose of patience along with it!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

California Real Estate License Number Mandatory

California Senate Bill No. 1461 is effective as of July 1, 2009 and it has real estate agents scrambling to comply. This Bill amends Section 10140.6 of the Business and Professions Code. As of July 1st, it requires a real estate "...licensee to include his or her license identification number on specified solicitation materials, as defined, and on real property purchase agreements when acting as an agent in those transactions."

We've been putting our license number on the purchase agreements for some time now. The California Association of Realtors® purchase agreement has been updated to include a field for the information. However, completing this information has not been mandatory up to this point.

But, it does mean that to be compliant, we will have to print new business cards and other promotional materials including notepads, etc.

What is covered? The Business and Professions code states:
"A real estate licensee shall also disclose his or her license identification number on all solicitation materials intended to be the first point of contact with consumers and on real property purchase agreements when acting as an agent in those transactions... For purposes of this section, “solicitation materials intended to be the first point of contact with consumers” includes business cards, stationery, advertising fliers, and other materials designed to solicit the creation of a professional relationship between the licensee and a consumer, and excludes an advertisement in print or electronic media and “for sale” signs."

Reference: Senate Bill 1461 (note: this is a pdf file)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Home Prices Continue Decline Nationally

The Standard and Poors Case-Shiller Index report through March, 2009 was released today. The report states that "...the U.S. National Home Price Index continues to set record declines".

Metropolitan areas recorded a year-over-year decline of slightly more than 19% for the first quarter. Record monthly declines were noted in Minneapolis, Detroit and New York.

On the flip side, there were some metropolitan areas that recorded improved statistics year-over-year, or when looking at the statistics compared with the month of February, 2009.

To read the press release from Standard and Poors, go here: Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (Note: This is a PDF document)

Learn more: Read about the Case-Shiller Home Price Index

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Unclaimed Property and Money

Who knew after we posted a link on Facebook last night to search for unclaimed property that there would be such a reaction? To our surprise we found money for our family members, and now several friends and clients have told us that they have found money and property (a safe deposit box) too!

So, we thought we would share it with our friends who read this blog.

While it's not "real estate", it is "property" ... so allow us the latitude, please.

There may be money or property for you - just waiting to be claimed! In the state of California, you can search for unclaimed property here:
California unclaimed property search

We used the "individual search" function and started by putting only a last name. When there were too many results, we put only the first initial of the first name (in case there were any derivatives of the first name).

Other states have similar searches. Put "unclaimed property search" + (state name) in your search bar to find the link and start searching!

Let us know if you find money or property! Send us an email: blog(at)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Five Tips for Buying a Foreclosure

We've been working with a number of home buyers whose home of choice happens to be a bank-owned property. Yes, it has been interesting ... walking into a home and finding an empty room where the kitchen should be, or finding rooms with missing light fixtures, etc.

But, for some the property they want to call "home" is part of the "distressed" sale market. And, with this type of property/seller, it can be quite a different transaction.

Here are five tips for buying a foreclosure:

1. Be patient. The banks work on their own time frame, and this does not include weekends or evenings. Most have files and offers stacked up, and are trying to get through them as quickly as possible. The banks don't want the properties on their books any longer than they have to.

2. Do your due diligence. There are fewer disclosures on bank-owned property, and as such, the risk is with the buyer. Have inspections so that you are comfortable with your level of knowledge about the property condition. Some lenders will provide a termite inspection/clearance, some will not. If not, consider paying for one yourself. Inspect - inspect - inspect.

3. Know your budget. Yes, bank-owned properties are generally below "market" value. However, we are seeing multiple offers on these properties, with the eventual sales price going for more than asking. When you combine the increased sales price, the amount of money you spend on inspections, and then include necessary repairs (that are funded with cash out of pocket) ... make sure the property really does fit your budget.

4. Pick yourself up and do it again. You may not get the first property you make an offer on - or the second - or the third. If your offer is not selected, then move on to another property. There are more homes coming on the market every day.

5. Use a real estate agent. Using a real estate agent will give you access to the greatest number of homes; and with their professional guidance and expertise, will help you succeed in today's real estate market.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Housing Market Opens Up in Spring

Real estate is blooming this spring as reported in five markets - Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Nevada; Greenville, South Carolina; Sarasota, Florida; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

While many news stories are about the downturn in sales and prices, these local experts are reporting brisk home buying traffic and increased optimism about this year's real estate sales. Low prices and favorable interest rates are attracting buyers, in addition to incentives.

Read more about these five spring real estate markets here: Buyers Spring Back into Favorite Real Estate Markets


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Friday, May 01, 2009

787 Starlight Heights Drive, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011 - home for sale

Video of Fran and Rowena listing. Three bedroom townhome on cul-de-sac near La Canada Country Club. Lovely patio and gardens with golfcourse and mountain views.

For additional information, a color brochure or a confidential appointment to see this property, please call Fran and Rowena of Dilbeck Realtors at (818) 952-0077.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Home owners - Is now the time to move up?

Current home owners are asking themselves - is now a good time to move up? Many are considering a move sooner rather than later.

What are some reasons for making that move right now?

1. Low interest rates
2. Increased supply of homes on the market so you can find your next home
3. Lower home prices will mean you spend less for your next home
4. Home buyers are in the market. Well-priced homes are selling. Yours can too.

Even with the price of your current home being affected by today's real estate market, many are seizing the opportunity to get into their next (dream) home now! Some are selling now, and then choosing to rent and take a "wait and see" approach.

Whatever your strategy, the opportunities are out there!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

4611 Vineta Avenue, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011 - home for sale

Video of Fran and Rowena listing. Wonderful four bedroom home on desirable street in La Canada Flintridge. Grounds include fenced pool, fruit trees and grassy lawn.

For additional information, a color brochure or a confidential appointment to see this property, please call Fran and Rowena of Dilbeck Realtors at (818) 952-0077.

Dilbeck Realtors is independently owned and operated. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New Single Family Home Sales Down

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have released the March 2009 statistics for new, single-family home sales nationwide. The number of sales was 356,000 (on an annual adjusted basis), reflecting a .6% downturn over February's 358,000 number. However, on a year-over-year basis, the 2009 number was approximately 30.6% less than March 2008.

As for the median home price? The press release stated "The median sales price of new houses sold in March 2009 was $201,400; the average sales price was $258,000."

To read the press release (PDF file): March new home sales

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nationwide Existing Home Sales Down

The National Association of Realtors® is reporting that existing home sales fell slightly during the month on March. The numbers show that existing home sales "...declined 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million units in March from a downwardly revised level of 4.71 million in February, and were 7.1 percent lower than the 4.92 million-unit pace in March 2008."

Interesting ... especially due to the activity in the distressed real estate market (translation: foreclosures, REOs, short sales - read our prior post about Foreclosure Sales Up) Our guess - buyers are tiring of the downside to these distressed sales (read: Washington Post: Foreclosure Sales Stalled by Red Tape and our prior post about Two Real Estate Markets).

And, the report on home prices? NAR says "Although prices rose from February to March, the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $175,200, down 12.4 percent from March 2008. The price increase from February to March was 4.2 percent, which is much higher than the typical 1.8 percent seasonal increase between those two months. Distressed properties, which accounted for just over half of all transactions in March, typically are selling for 20 percent less than traditional homes."

To read more: NAR existing home sales March

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

California Foreclosure Sales UP

Much to no one's surprise, sales of foreclosures in the first quarter of 2009 were up nationwide. RealtyTrac® reports that "...foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 803,489 properties in the first quarter, a 9 percent increase from the previous quarter and an increase of nearly 24 percent from Q1 2008. One in every 159 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the quarter."

Nevada led the way in the first quarter "...with one in every 27 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing — more than five times the national average." Closer to (our) home, California was not far behind with "...the nation’s third highest state foreclosure rate, with one in every 58 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing."

You might have read one of our prior blog posts from March 5 - Two Real Estate Markets.

To read more: RealtyTrac press release

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

California Dept of Real Estate Gone?

Have you heard about California Assembly Bill 33 (AB33)? It is sponsored by California Assemblyman Pedro Nava. He describes on his official website that the bill "Combines the Department of Financial Institutions, Department of Corporations and Department of Real Estate into the California Department of Financial Services into a one stop shop regulator providing clarity for licensees and increased consumer protections".

The Bill is to be considered by Assembly Business and Professions Committee on April 28th. The California Association of Realtors has come out in opposition to the Bill.

Governor Schwarzenegger's statement is here: Governor Schwarzenegger Press Release on AB 33

We'll be watching next week.

Monday, April 20, 2009

4413 Shepherds Lane, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011 - home for sale

Video of Fran and Rowena listing. Lovely estate property nestled in Descanso Gardens area of La Canada Flintridge. Premier amenities.

For additional information, a color brochure or a confidential appointment to see this property, please call Fran and Rowena of Dilbeck Realtors at (818) 952-0077.

Dilbeck Realtors is independently owned and operated. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Free Home Buyer's Fair

If you are in the Los Angeles area this coming weekend, there is a free home buyer's fair being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19. Sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and the California Association of Realtors®, there will be a lot of information available.

For additional information, the official website is here: 2009 Home Buyer's Fair

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

California Real Estate Property Taxes

Important information for California homeowners!

The second installment of California property taxes become delinquent if not paid by April 10 at 5 pm, or close of business day, whichever is later.

Read (PDF document): 2009 Property Tax Calendar

For additional information, there is a PDF document from the California State Board of Equalization here: California property tax Publication 29

For a list of County Assessors, go here: California County Assessors

As background, California property taxes are divided into two halves, based on the July 1 to June 30 fiscal year:

First half covering the July 1 to December 31 period are due on November 1 and delinquent if not paid before December 10th at 5 pm

Second half covering the January 1 to June 30 period are due on February 1 and delinquent if not paid before April 10 at 5 pm.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Second Week of Lower Mortgage Rates

Yes, mortgage rates are still feeling the pinch of the economy. National statistics indicate an increase in home purchases (read: National Association of Realtors - pending home sales increase in February), however we are hearing from home buyers that they are looking for value, and many are on the sidelines for personal reasons. Among the reasons we are hearing are job insecurity, waiting for the "bottom", working to improve their credit rating and to save more money to meet lender loan requirements. reports that for the second week in a row, mortgage rates are at a record low (dating from when started their rate survey). As reported, "The average 30-year fixed-rate dropped 6 basis points, to 5.13 percent...One year ago, the 30-year fixed was 6.12 percent; four weeks ago, it was 5.41 percent."

Read more about current rates here: April 2 interest rate roundup

Thursday, April 02, 2009

New California Mortgage Protection Program

As of Thursday, April 2, California home buyers will have a new mortgage protection program. The C.A.R. Housing Affordability Fund Mortgage Protection Program provides an "Insurance Policy" for "...involuntary unemployment and accidental death & disability coverage...", covering a primary residence only.

The qualifications for the new program are:
· Be a first-time home buyer – someone who has not owned a home in the last three years.
· Open escrow April 2, 2009, or later, and close on or before December 31, 2009
. Use a California REALTOR® in the transaction
· Purchase the property in California
· Be a W-2 employee (cannot be self-employed or military personnel)

There are more specific qualifications, terms and conditions are on the Application, which can be found here (pdf document): C.A.R. Housing Affordability Fund Mortgage Protection Program

You should know that funds for this program are limited and "Applications will be reviewed and Insurance Policies will be awarded on a first come, first served basis until Program funds are depleted or until HAF discontinues the Program, whichever occurs first."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Be careful! Rental property scam alert!

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is warning prospective tenants of a rental property scam where the NAR name is being used.

Please read the information on the NAR website for information National Association of Realtors scam alert

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mid-Century Mortgage Rates!

Wow! Mortgage rates at lowest point since the 1950's (our term for this --- "mid-century mortgage rates"). reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 10 basis points, to 5.19 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.91 percent; four weeks ago, it was 5.45 percent."

So, what was the rate in the 1950's? "According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate, FHA-insured mortgage was 5.15 percent in December 1956. That appears to be the last time that rates were lower."

So, we expect there will be more refinance activity, assuming the property and the borrower qualify for the refinance loan.

And, that's exactly what is happening ... "The Mortgage Bankers Association says home loan applications soared by more than 30 percent last week. Four-fifths of those applicants were homeowners who had loans and who wanted to refinance at lower rates."

But, be careful and pay attention! It is also reported that mortgage fees are on the rise. Read here: Mortgage Fees Highest Since 2000.

For more information about mortgage rates, read here:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Real Estate Headlines

Many news items to share with you today:

The Federal Open Market Committee held steady this month stating their decision to "..maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and anticipates that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period"

And, in a move that has already sent interest rates lower, The Federal Reserve announced "Moreover, to help improve conditions in private credit markets, the Committee decided to purchase up to $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months."

Read more here:
Federal Reserve Board Press Release

The National Association of Home Builders reports that February home starts increased for the first time in eight months. However, "...the only area of the country to post a lower rate of total housing starts for February was the West, with a 24.6 percent decline." Read here: National Association of Home Builders

The California Building Industry Association reports that new home sales in California during January, 2009 were slow. Read here: California Building Industry Association

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Home Selling with Thoughts of the Past

In today's "new" real estate market, we are finding that the economy is being compared to times past. For home sellers, we have started thinking that the past applies now, more than ever:

"Out with the old, in with the new"
Get rid of the tired decor. Take down the dated wallpaper, paint walls with fresh, current colors. Remove all the years of clutter. Take out old furniture, move furniture around to make rooms more appealing. If you can afford to, then hire a home stager to bring in additional furniture and accessories, as needed. If not, turn to your real estate agent for advice and assistance.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"
But if it is broken, DO fix it. If kitchen or bath faucets are tarnished, replace or polish. Replace broken or cracked windows. Fix or replace any items that say "fixer" to a buyer. This is an area where your real estate agent can give you valuable advice on what to fix, and what can be left alone. Let's face it - after spending money for a home, not too many buyers have additional discretionary funds to do fix-ups.

"A drop in the bucket"
What you spend to fix up your home is small compared to what you will loose in value if you do not.

"A job worth doing is worth doing well"
Think of selling your home as your new "job".

"A place for everything and everything in its place"
Need we say more?

"Clean as a whistle"
Do a "deep cleaning" before putting your home on the market. This means get rid of "dust bunnies" - both inside and out. Wash the exterior of the home, clean the baseboards inside. Gently used air fresheners can be helpful with room odors. Have your home looking clean, and smelling clean.

"Pretty as a picture
Make sure the photos of your home are pleasing to the eye. This means no cars in front of the house when the exterior photo is taken, rooms are light and bright. Many times the photos are what attracts a buyer to your home. And, make sure that there are photos of your home online and in ads.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
Remember this one when you get the first offer, and it's not the sales price you had hoped for.

"There's no place like home"
That's right! It's a great time to buy a home. So, to all home sellers, our advice to you is to transform your home into the one that will best appeal to a home buyer in today's "new" real estate market.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mortgage Applications UP

 The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that for the week ending March 6, its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage loan application volume "...increased 11.6 percent compared with the previous week and 5.7 percent compared with the same week one year earlier".

To read more: Mortgage Bankers Association

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Realtor Good Neighbor Awards

The nominations are open for the 10th Annual REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Award. This prestigious award goes to a Realtor® who has "...made an extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of life in their communities through volunteer work."

Five winners are chosen. A $10,000 grant is awarded to each winner for their charity cause. In addition, five Realtors will receive honorable mention, including a $2,500 grant.

To read more and nominate a Realtor through the National Association of Realtors®, please go here: Good Neighbor Award.

Entries are due by Friday, May 22, 2009.

We encourage you to participate in this program.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Two Real Estate Markets

In our real estate business, it seems like there are two real estate markets.

The first real estate market is the "distressed" market - foreclosed homes, REOs (real estate owned) and homes being sold under a lender short sale.

The second real estate market is the "normal" market - home sellers who are selling.

We have home buyers who are specifically looking for homes in the first real estate market. Basically, they are hoping for a bargain price. But, buying such property at (hopefully) a lesser price comes with risk (depending on where the property is located, such risk can include "as is" home condition, no guarantees, and minimal or no seller disclosures) and may require patience while waiting for decisions to be made by the seller.

We also have home buyers who want to stay away from the first real estate market, and concentrate on a more "normal" sale. These home buyers are more comfortable with the "normal" home buying process - the face-to-face home seller, including seller disclosures.

What type of home buyer are you?

Search for Southern California homes for sale

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Home Sales Down but Affordability Up

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports that January pending homes sale numbers were down (is this a surprise?), reaching the lowest number since the NAR started reporting the Pending Home Sales Index (PSHI) in 2001. In that year, the PHSI was set at 100. At the end of January, this same index stood at 80.4.

Citing a "weakening economy" and home buyers "waiting for clarity on housing stimulus provisions", these numbers further demonstrate the nationwide real estate troubles.

On a brighter note, NAR's Housing Affordability Index was up in January of this year to a new record high. This index started in 1970.

To read more: NAR January home sale indices

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Check FHA Mortgage Limits

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has revised the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan limits. You can check the FHA Mortgage Limits for area(s) online here: FHA Mortgage Limits. These limits are to remain in effect until December 31, 2009.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Real estate on Twitter

Have you heard about the microblogging and social networking platform known as Twitter? It's quite the "buzz" on the internet. We "follow" the updates (known as "tweets") of friends, fellow real estate professionals, interesting people, some celebrities, companies, news organizations and individuals ... finding up-to-the-second information. These "tweets" are limited to 140 characters, so it's quick to scan what's being "said" and read in depth on topics that interest you.

We've got to admit ... we're hooked. Check us out here: Fran and Rowena on Twitter. You'll find that we're on Twitter daily, posting links to real estate, and non-real estate items of interest, covering local and more worldly venues.

Let us know what you think? Join and "follow" us!

Read more about Twitter here: Twitter on Wikipedia

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Freddie Mac Plan for High Risk Loans

Freddie Mac has launched a new workout plan for high risk loans, trying to help borrowers keep their homes. Calling it their "Workout Strategy For High Risk Loans", they are utilizing specially trained counselors from outside sources.

"Under the new pilot, a selected portfolio of higher risk mortgages that are at least 60 days delinquent will be given to a specialty servicer for intensive attention using the full range of Freddie Mac workout opportunities, including the Streamlined Modification Program developed with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae and the HOPE Now Alliance."

Where is the program focused? "Initially, the pilot will target an estimated 5000 reduced documentation loans from California, Nevada and other states with high delinquent rates."

To read more: Freddie Mac Program for High Risk Loans

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

The National Association of Realtors® reports that "Most metropolitan area median home prices, impacted by distressed sales, trended down in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. At the same time, existing-home sales rose in only six states from the fourth quarter of 2007."

It's the foreclosures and short sales that make up the "distressed sales". We are noticing very enticing prices on these properties. We are also experiencing multiple offers, and sale prices above the list price on such properties.

Metropolitan areas that suffered the steepest home price declines (on single family homes) were "Las Vegas-Paradise, seven metro areas in California, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, and three metros in Florida".

On the other end of the scale, metropolitan areas that had the largest home price increase (on single family homes) were Beaumont-Port Arthur (Texas), Bloomington-Normal (Illinois) and Dover (Delaware).

To read more: 4th quarter 2008 home price report

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Real Estate Radio Show

The National Association of Realtors® is launching a weekly real estate radio show. Real Estate Today is a two hour show that can be heard on SIRIUS and XM Radio starting February 14.

The website says "...the program delivers everything you need to know about your home, from buying and selling tips and financing issues, to home improvements and other value enhancements, to the current state of the local real estate market."

Tune in this Saturday. For additional information go here: Real Estate Today.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Consumer Alert - Loan Modifications

If you are behind in the payments on your mortgage, you may be contacted by companies offering to help you with the "loan modification" process.

However, there are companies and people who are not legitimate and who are taking advantage of consumers.

The California Department of Real Estate has issued a "Consumer Alert". If you are asked to pay advance, up-front fees for such loan modification services, read here first: California Department of Real Estate.

The Department of Real Estate lists two non-profit counseling services:

Federal Housing Administration
Homeownership Preservation Foundation.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

California Home Sales Up

California homes sales increased 84.9% in December, compared with the same period last year. The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) reports that "Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 544,580 in December...Statewide home resale activity increased 84.9 percent from the revised 294,520 sales pace recorded in December 2007. Sales in December 2008 increased 5.9 percent compared with the previous month."

The median home price decreased 41.5% over December, 2007. C.A.R. statistics are that "The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during December 2008 was $281,100, a 41.5 percent decrease from the revised $480,820 median for December 2007 ... The December 2008 median price fell 2 percent compared with November’s revised $286,850 median price."

To read more: C.A.R. press release

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Real Estate Positive News

Yes, there is positive real estate news. Today, we are going to bring you some!

Looking at four communities - Sarasota, Florida; Greenville, South Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Los Angeles, California - there are positive indicators to be found in the real estate market.

Looking for the [real estate] cloud's silver lining? Read more here:
Los Angeles real estate news

If you have positive news about real estate in your area, let us know!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Foreclosures Up in 2008

No surprise here ... unless you are surprised by the numbers ... "A total of 3,157,806 foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 2,330,483 U.S. properties during 2008, an 81 percent increase in total properties from 2007 and a 225 percent increase in total properties from 2006, according to the RealtyTrac 2008 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™"."

Especially hard hit were the states of Nevada, California, Florida and Arizona.

To read more, including a state-by-state graph: RealtyTrac 2008 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report

Friday, January 23, 2009

Real Estate Mortgage Rates

The real estate market is reflecting the concern that the next stimulus package will stir inflation. reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 31 basis points to 5.59 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.57 percent; four weeks ago, it was 5.84 percent."

During 2007, the same 30-year fixed-rate mortgage topped out at 6.77%, and has enjoyed a nearly steady decline.

To read more:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

California Home Sales

California home sales up!?

Yes, according to DataQuick, which has kept statistics since 1988. reports that for the month of December, 2008 "An estimated 37,836 new and resale houses and condos were sold in California last month. That was up 17.6 percent from 32,163 in November and up 47.9 percent from 25,585 for December 2007. Sales have increased on a year-over-year basis for the last six months."

However, the median price went down year-over-year from $402,000 in December, 2007 to $249,000 last month.

To read more: California home sales, December 2008

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Home Builder Confidence Down

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) has reached a record low level of 8. Across the United States, the NAHB reports that "Regionally, the HMI fell one point to 10 in the Northeast, held even at 6 in the Midwest, rose one point to 11 in the South and fell three points to new record low of 4 in the West in January."

In our opinion, this is not a surprise as it is yet another indicator of a difficult economy.

To read more: National Association of Home Builders reports HMI at record low

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's happening in your market?

Let us know! We've created a "question" form of discussion here:

What's happening in your real estate market?

We would love you to join in!

You do not have to sign in to participate. Just post your answer.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Southern California Home Buyer's Fair

Mark your calendar! The second annual Southern California Home Buyer's Fair is scheduled to be held Saturday, April 18 from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday, April 19 from 11 am to 4 pm. The site is the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Presented by the California Association of Realtors®, and sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, there will be a concentrated wealth of information for the first-time home buyer, or repeat buyer.

This is a great opportunity for home buyers to learn, with over 65 exhibit booths planned. In addition, there are free "how-to" seminars on relevant topics.

Best of all --- it's free!

The official website is here: Southern California Home Buyer's Fair

We have a map to the Convention Center, including directions here:

View Larger Map

Plan to attend!

Monday, January 12, 2009

More on real estate economist

Originally posted by us last week - "Fake" positive spin on real estate? - now the Wall Street Journal has an article about David Lereah, former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The article gives additional insight into Mr. Lereah's background and his NAR position. The article states "Mr. Lereah, who says he left NAR voluntarily, says he was pressured by executives to issue optimistic forecasts -- then was left to shoulder the blame when things went sour." Did he anticipate the real estate market would be where it is today? Apparently not, says the article: "Mr. Lereah admits to one mistake: believing there would be no national housing crash."

To read more go here: WSJ online - David Lereah article

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"Fake" positive spin on real estate?

Would you put a positive spin on something because of your job? Well, apparently that is what one former National Association of Realtors (NAR) economist is now saying that he did while acting as that organization's chief economist.

Read the online Money Magazine article where David Lereah, now a private consultant, tells why he did it and gives his predictions for the housing market.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Real estate sales weaken

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the November pending home sales were down. However, the NAR's chief economist was not surprised by the data, calling the weakening "inevitable". Also, "The impact of mortgage interest rates declining to near 50-year lows in December is not reflected in current data."

"The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in November, fell 4.0 percent to 82.3 from a downwardly revised reading of 85.7 in October, and is 5.3 percent below November 2007 when it was 86.9. The current index is the lowest since the series began in 2001."

However, all the data is not downward. The western region actually posted a year-over-year gain "The PHSI ... index was down 2.4 percent to 101.2 but remains 19.3 percent higher than November 2007."

Read the press release here: real estate sales weaken

We have noticed an increase in phone calls and buyer interest since the first of the year for homes for sale in Southern California. In addition, we have also been receiving more calls from seniors wanting to find out how or if they can transfer their property tax base. It seems people are thinking about this year's financial strategy. It could be a very busy year in our office.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Real estate agent job ranked has ranked 200 different jobs from #1 (Mathematician) to #200 (Lumberjack). Read here: ranking of 200 different jobs

If you are thinking of a career in real estate, this list rates "real estate agent" at #121. You can see it on this page: real estate agent job rating

If you are thinking of a career in real estate, contact us. We'll give you our thoughts on what a real estate career is like - "from the trenches".

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Renting? Landlord Tenant Info

If you are renting or thinking of renting a residential property in California, we have valuable information for you!

The California Department of Consumer Affairs has an online consumer publication - California Tenants, a Guide to Residential Tenants' and Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities.

This is a reference tool for tenants and landlords. Being familiar with the issues involved in renting can be helpful in maintaining a successful landlord-tenant relationship.

The guide is online here: California DCA Landlord-Tenant Booklet. You can also order print copies of the booklet through the website.