Winter home sales can be hot!

Posted by at 12:27 pm

The weather outside might be frightful, but new research from Redfin shows winter listings are more likely than summer listings to fetch a price above asking. It might seem counter-intuitive to conventional wisdom, but winter home sales are often hot! Redfin’s findings showed 17.5 percent of winter listings fetch more than asking price, comparable to spring (18.7). Similarly, while 48 percent of spring listings sell within 30 days, 46.2 percent of winter listings also do. That outshines both summer and fall! Those great percentages stem from decreased wintertime real estate competition. People who are willing to shop for a home when it gets colder tend to be the most serious. They often have narrow time windows in which to move. Those with kids probably want them settled into new schools by the new year. They’re less likely to make lowball offers...
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November 18th, 2016

Keep it real when setting your listing price

Posted by at 2:21 pm

Even in today’s super hot seller’s market, it can be a mistake to list your property at too high an opening price. With all the information online these days, the majority of buyers – and their agents – have done their research. They generally know what homes in the neighborhood have sold for, and will know if your price is out of line. Many serious buyers get turned off by inflated prices and may not come back when it comes back down to reality. If you price to sell early, the negotiations can begin. You have the leverage, and you’re more likely to get multiple offers. More offers generally lead to the highest reward. Real estate agents say the seller is essentially in “the driver’s seat” the first 30 days the home is on the market. Once your home has been...
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Lessons for Loans and Life

Posted by at 2:28 pm

  Bay Equity Senior Loan Officer Laura Gonzalez draws on her professional and personal experience as a volunteer instructor for the Montebello Housing Development Corporation (MHDC), assisting low- to moderate-income families in Los Angeles County. One of MHDC’s most popular programs is “CalHome Second Mortgage Loan Program,” a state-funded deferred loan that helps fill the gap between home prices and a borrower’s buying power. Successful applicants must have FICO credit scores of at least 620, and take required homeowner education classes. Through years of experience, she’s learned all the roadblocks to affordable housing and her partnership with the program has helped 12 families realize the American dream. For Gonzalez, it’s a personal commitment. Aside from teaching them the ins and outs of home lending, she takes the time to interview each of the families to determine where they are financially to...
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November 8th, 2016

Changing approach can up first-time buyer odds

Posted by at 4:12 pm

It’s getting harder and harder for first time buyers to get in to today’s tight housing marketplace, especially in sought-after neighborhoods. The last time there was a healthy 6-month supply of homes for sale was 2012. Currently, it’s only about 4.5 months, and the new home supply is even smaller. Starter homes are especially scarce. Many of the present owners of these affordable homes are still on the fence about selling with the economy still in flux. Many more starter dwellings were snapped up by investors over the last few years for use as rentals. Most new home builders are still concentrating on more profitable upper-tier housing. Bottom line is, buying your first home is probably going to be little tough for the next couple of years, but with mortgage rates still at historic lows, it’s not something you want to...
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November 2nd, 2016

Italian quakes remind homeowners: Preparation is key

Posted by at 4:25 pm

No one was killed as a series of powerful earthquakes rattled Central Italy over the Halloween weekend, but it was gripping evidence of how unpredictable and serious the danger can be. While you don’t ever know when an earthquake is coming, you can be sure of one thing: They will happen again. One can never be entirely sure where. True, recent American earthquake activity – say the last 200 years – has been focused along the San Andreas fault in California. Between 1974 and 2003, there were 4,895 earthquakes in California recorded with a magnitude of 3.5 or greater. In 1994, a 6.7 quake killed 72 and did $20 billion damage near Northridge, and more recently, a 6.0 quake hit the Napa Valley in 2014. Many buildings were damaged, and at least 172 people were injured. One person was killed. But...
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October 27th, 2016

The Younger Half

Posted by at 11:10 am

A recent Zillow survey showed half of all U.S. home buyers in 2016 were younger than 36 – with first-time buyers accounting for 47 percent of those purchases. While they may be a tad older than first-time buyers of the past, it’s clear Millennials are emerging from their parents’ basements and looking for homes of their own. Another survey found first-timers make up 52 percent of those planning to buy in 2017. In 2015, first-timers made up only 33 percent of prospective buyers. Those who actually do plan to buy a home are not only tech-savvy, they’re tech-bred. They use mobile devices for everything – from planning vacations to researching stocks to checking the Twitter status of celebs. It’s not a stretch to say this age group isn’t capable of conducting personal financial management without the aid of a digital device...
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The best time to buy? Right now

Posted by at 12:58 pm

If you can find what you’re looking for, the best time to buy a home is almost always right now. One of the best kept secrets in the real estate market is that there is no “best time of year” to do home shopping. Don’t try to time the market – it’s impossible. The right time to buy is when you find the best available house in your price range. The common belief – maybe better called a common hope – is that house prices are correlated to interest rates. When the rates rise, the prices of homes for sale must fall, because otherwise those homes will become less affordable – right? Sorry. There’s no strong relationship between house prices and interest rates. No one can predict how long today’s historically low interest rates will last. Not everyone fits the...
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Beat the chill bill with simple heat savers

Posted by at 11:36 am

The news is out – the winter of 2016-17 is going to be a cold one! But with a few simple home upgrades, you can conserve heat like a bear in hibernation and slash your energy bill at the same time.   The first place to look is in the attic. Is your insulation evenly distributed? There should be about 6 inches everywhere – more if you live in a colder climate. The Department of Energy and many states offer financial incentives. Use the sunshine to your advantage. Leave drapes or blinds on the east side of your home open in the morning, and on the west side in the afternoon. Otherwise, close draperies to trap solar heat inside. Next, lower the hot water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. That’s still optimal for laundry or dishes, and don’t worry, your...
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October 18th, 2016

Feeling the Heat

Posted by at 10:32 am

Rising commodity prices and a colder winter are expected to put a chill on American household heating budgets during the winter of 2016-17. Last year’s mild temperatures and low energy prices brought some of the lowest energy prices of the decade, but set the country up for increases that could cost homeowners and renters hundreds of dollars this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The increases will differ depending on where you live and how you heat your home. East of the Rockies, the Northeast and Midwest should be 17-percent more frigid, while the South will be 18-percent colder. The West, however, should be about 2-percent warmer. As a result, natural gas users – more than half of all U.S. homes – should expect a bill about 22 percent higher than last year. Propane and heating oil users will feel...
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Fall into great deals on a new home

Posted by at 11:37 am

Fall can still be a great time to buy a home, with the wind of the summer season still at your back. The weather may be getting colder, but even with only a 4.7-month inventory of existing homes available, the market might be hotter than you think. Buyers will find the “move before school starts” competition has dropped out of the hunt, content to wait until the sun shines again. Lots of families don’t like to move in the rain or snow. And as the buying competition drops off, many sellers, in turn, get more serious and more motivated. Maybe they overestimated their home’s market value, and they’d rather make a sale than wait another six months. They may drop prices to elicit more offers. By late 2016, you can expect a new influx of sellers who up until now had been thwarted by negative equity...
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