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