Saturday, March 21, 2009

Start Watching the Real Estate Market: A Free Listing Website Set up Just for YOU!

Buyer's and Sellers!

If you're in Southern California...this post is for you!

Regardless of which category you fall into.....I have a system which will help you educate yourself on the real estate market you are actually IN! Unlike the major online search websites....this site will be geared to your specifications and give you real-time notifications of new listings, solds and pending sales. You no longer have to guess if a home price you see online is real! This comes directly from the MLS.

On this site...I will imput your search criteria. If you are a home seller...we will enter the comparable homes to the search. You can begin to watch home values....see all the homes that are currently listed and what the price is. You can see pictures and other important information as well. You can also go in and sort these listings, make comments, and even send them directly to me for more information.

This information comes directly from the Multiple Listing Service...the same system the realtors use...and so you will have the most current information available.

This is a link to a sample site...loaded with a Mission Viejo search. If you would like one for your specific needs....please email/call me and I'll set one up for you too!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Open Letter to Home Buyers

Dear Future Home Buyer,Wow...interesting times out there! Short sales, foreclosures, changing loan's so hard to know what to do. Is this the right time to buy? Or should you wait? Where should you go to find answers.

If you are reading this, you already know there are many websites which are available to give you some insight. You can now find home listings, mortgage rates and even your credit report online. But what you still need to know is how to put all this information together to build a coherent plan of attack. A good buyer's agent can help you do this. And a buyer's agent represents you free of charge. Their commissions are paid by the seller.

A buyer's agent is not someone who necessarily rejects real estate listings, but in your case will be someone who is representing YOU and only YOU. This is not someone who is representing both buyer and seller in the same deal. That, in my opinion, is a recipe for trouble...and something I never do.

A buyer's agent will help bring a team of experts together to work with you depending on your needs. This might include a tax consultant, a mortgage broker, and/or a credit counselor. It will certainly involve a comprehensive discussion of your home needs. You will explore cities, size of home, community amenities, school districts, resale values...all the things that should go into an educated home purchase.

This can be done in various ways. I like to set up a custom website for each buyer and load it with a personal search. Using this site, you will receive all the listings directly from the MLS which suit your criteria. On this site, you can save, sort and make comments on the listings...and send them directly to me by email if you have specific questions....or see something you'd like to view. Once we develop a working list...we can go see them.

This is all the things you would expect a real estate agent to do for you....but do you know what happens after you find the perfect home?

During escrow...your buyer's agent is there for you too! We not only negotiate the price in the offer, but represent you during the escrow period too. You will have a home inspection. There might be repairs needed. Although most listings now say "as-is" even banks recognize that sometimes making repairs for a buyer ready to close is better than holding firm and risk starting from scratch with a new buyer. Especially if the problem is severe.

A good example is mold. Most banks, regardless of whether it's a short sale or foreclosure, will address a mold problem. Once they have been made aware of the existence of mold, they must disclose it to every new buyer...they might as well handle it with us. There are other major problems that can be addressed in a bank approval situation too. If we are working with a seller with equity...there is even more room to negotiate repairs, or credits, to handle problems with the home condition.

Other issues which might occur during escrow include insurance quotes, appraisal problems, title discrepancies. All situations your buyer's agent is prepared for, and experienced in solving. Can all problems be solved? of course not...but your agent will have the experience and resources to guide you during the entire process.

In short....if you are ready to buy a new home, or if you are ready to THINK about buying a new home. Start talking to a buyer's agent.

Good luck with your new home purchase and we are here to help when you are ready.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Home Buying Process, or home buying for dummies :)

I'm finding that many buyers are uneducated about the home buying process. Just look at the questions on Zillow or Trulia and read behind the see uncertainty and nervousness. I hold first-time home buyer workshops several times a year in my local area, but you don't have to be a first time home buyer to need information. This is the handout I use at that workshop about the steps we take to purchase a new home:

Home Buying Process

Step One: Indentify Properties of Interest and Go See Them

1)Preview properties online and on MLS Gateway Website
2)Identify properties that appear to fit criteria
3)Get Financial details and listing background

Step Two: Write Offers on One or More Possible Homes

1)Write offers with no deposit or obligation
2)Recieve counter offers and give them our response
3)Come to an agreement on one great home, or keep looking

Step Three: Open Escrow

1) We are assigned an escrow officer and number
2)Deposit check will be sent to escrow

Step Four: Contingency Period (17 Days) time to explore details of the home

1) Home Inspection
2)Loan Approval
4) Seller Disclosures
5) Home Owner Association CC & Rs and financial stability

****Important**** All contingencies are removed in writing!!!

Step Five: Coast to the Close

1) Review and sign loan documents
2) Transfer any funds necessary to close to escrow
3) Close Escrow and title is recorded


I hope this is helpful to understand the process....obviously this is an overview....but it's really a simple process, and we take things in an orderly manner. One step at a time!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Condo vs PUD: No FHA Project Approval needed on PUDs

I had a nice surprise yesterday. I wrote an offer with FHA financing on a townhouse for a young couple. I had checked the "denied" list of FHA developments in the area and had not seen it. It's a shorter list, so I usually use it before I take clients to see homes. Oops....didn't think to see if it was on the "withdrawn" list. Learned something about completeness. It was withdrawn. Panic!!! The couple's kids had already picked out their bedrooms.

But....determined to save this deal, I looked into it further. The reason the approval had been withdrawn was because it was a PUD (Planned Unit Development). Huh...I thought those were single family development, like retirement communities. So I kept researching. Turns out that townhouse developments can be incorporated as a PUD. They actual deed the land to the home buyer and then convey easement usage to the common areas. By owning the land and only having usage rights, home owners are protected from the legal liability of their neighbors. Really interesting. But the best part???? FHA doesn't have to approve the development!

Deal saved!!! Happy home buyers! And I learned something!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Single Family Home in Mission Viejo for $180,000

Ok....this is a short sale price. But it's still the list price. It's a 2 bedroom, 2 bath home in a nice little area walking distance to the lake. This is what our market has gotten us....some amazing deals! Other single family homes are available too beginning more in the $300,000s but these are great opportunities for buyers.

Buy a family home for yourself to raise your kids in Mission Viejo. Buy and investment property and rent at record high rental prices. Buy a retirement home and enjoy Mission Viejo Lake privileges and other amenities in Mission Viejo.....yes, you can retire at these prices.

Mission Viejo has beautiful parks, lovely views, a state-of-the-art public library, community centers and activities, and of course...the great Southern California weather. At these prices, can you afford not to look into it? Or the surrounding cities? Come and begin your search at

We look forward to seeing you in your new home.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mission Viejo Foreclosures

Mission Viejo has not been immune to the wave of foreclosures we are seeing around the country. My quick search this morning showed just under 500 homes that are bank-owned. Do you think that a bank-owned home is your best investment? Maybe...maybe not!

Bank-owned homes do tend to be very aggressively priced. This is because asset managers do not want to have these files very long. Although they are responsible for the ultimate price they get, and the loss involved, they are also responsible for the length of time these homes are on the books. So they will price the home very well compared to other homes in the neighborhood. But there are pitfalls with offers on these homes.

First, the market in Southern California, including Mission Viejo, is for bank-owned and short sales to be priced below what the seller wants to get for the home. A typical home might be priced 5-10% below the ultimate selling price. This is confusing to many buyers who hear about the "buyer's market" on the news. What many buyers don't realize is that the buyer opportunities are already reflected in the asking price.

Banks expect to have a selection of buyers lined up within a very short time of listing the home, and expect to sell for over asking price. The buyer needs to determine how much a particular property means to them. If this is a dream home and they are very serious about getting the home, they need to go into the offer process very strongly. If it's simply a "home that will work" then we should position ourselves accordingly. Many times the original offer will fall through and then we could be the only offer left and can get a better price at that time.

Other problems with foreclosures involve the condition of the home. Every listing will list the home "as-is" but this does not mean you must buy the home sight unseen. You will have the opportunity to have the home inspected by a licensed home inspector....and sometimes the bank will give an allowance for a significant problem such as mold or foundation issues. Normally, you are going to be refused any repairs and few banks are even doing termite inspections now. So you need to be very careful about the home inspection, unlike a "normal" sale, the bank has never lived in the home, has no disclosures to give you about past problems and has very little, if any, liability if there are problems after the close.

All this being homes can be a great investment, can be significantly lower priced, can be in good physical condition, and should be considered when buying a home...but be very careful how you use the contingency period to do your homework, and make sure you are working with an agent who can help you.