February 10th, 2017

Many home buyers seek the best schools

Posted by at 11:47 am

For many home buyers, there is no factor more important than the schools their children will attend. Not all have the desire or the wherewithal to put their kids in the finest private institutions, so they go with the next-best option – moving to the best public school districts. For many home buyers, school quality ranks far above neighborhood quality or their commute. These buyers are willing to pay higher prices— and usually, higher property taxes — to live in “better” school districts. But opting for public schools isn’t always a dollars-and-cents decision. Some have missed deadlines or been rejected by private schools. Others are turned off by the small size or cultural isolation of some private institutions. Many parents believe public schools give kids a broader-based experience, including interaction with children of different races and socioeconomic status. Real estate agents aren’t...
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Know your fire insurance

Posted by at 3:58 pm

Despite constant public education, accidents – preventable or not – will happen. And thousands of American homeowners will eventually make claims on their home insurance. While claims related to weather are the most frequent, it’s home fires that do the most damage. “Partial losses,” where the home is not destroyed, are common. Damages can be difficult to assess. Make you know your policy well, and know how to handle a claim. Call the insurance company right away, and make an appointment for their investigator/adjuster to visit as soon as possible. The adjuster is legally bound to assess any “hidden damages,” including smoke, ash and air quality. If the fire required action by fire fighters, make sure foam and water damage is assessed, as well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you don’t understand. Terms like “recoverable depreciation,” or...
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Trump trumps FHA insurance premium cut

Posted by at 4:44 pm

The Donald Trump administration quickly reversed a planned cut in FHA annual premiums about an hour after the new president took the oath of office Jan. 20. Due to have taken effect Jan. 27, the planned reduction of 25 basis points was announced Jan. 9 by Julian Castro, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama. FHA loans are popular among young and modest-income home buyers because they allow down payments of as little as 3.5 percent. However, FHA borrowers must pay for mortgage insurance to guard against the possibility of default. The cut from .85 to .60 percent of the total loan would have saved the average borrower about $500 a year. Trump and his team said it was too soon to make the cuts without further investigating the effects. Some Congressional Republicans say taxpayers already face...
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January 10th, 2017

FHA lowers rates for first-time buyers

Posted by at 2:28 pm

The FHA has announced lower insurance premiums for first-time homebuyers – lowering rates by about a quarter-point to 0.60 percent of the loan balance for most borrowers. Effective Jan. 27, the cuts would bring an average annual savings of about $500, and serve as a virtual parting gift from President Barack Obama’s administration. Incoming president Donald Trump will have a narrow window after his inauguration Jan. 20 to consider whether to play Scrooge – weighing objections to lower fees against the benefits. Some Congressional Republicans argue that taxpayers already face too much risk if borrowers default. They point to 2013, when the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) fell below its mandated reserve of 2 percent in the wake of the Housing Crisis, and had to dip into the U.S. Treasury for a cash infusion of $1.7 billion. But outgoing...
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December 29th, 2016

Nurturing relationships

Posted by at 2:32 pm

It’s true that relationships of all kinds can be very delicate things. Strong, long-lasting relationships need nourishment to not only survive, but to thrive. We spend the bulk of our lives building, protecting and preserving our family and personal relationships. That effort is essential to our well-being, our growth, and our happiness. Our business relationships deserve that same degree of care. Successful working relationships are born from mutual respect, and the essence of respect is open communication. In a strong working relationship, that means asking what each party wants and then listening to what they have to say. When we share what we know, it builds a lasting legacy of success. When cooperation and teamwork are respected, each party works for the good of the whole. In turn, this strong connection leads to strong shared relationships with clients and customers...
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New construction constructs

Posted by at 10:53 am

Existing homes are a great way to add your own chapter to an ongoing story, but new construction is a way to start your own book. Whether custom-designed or built on spec in a new subdivision, you won’t have to worry about dealing with the emotional baggage of a former owner. And as the first person to live in a house, you can generally count on a lot of nice amenities – new, energy-saving appliances, efficient plumbing, lots of closet space and modern design. You don’t have to smell anyone’s old smells, see what kids scrawled on the baseboards or find any “treasures” under the house from long ago. You just have to deal with the builder. So be aware that most new home sales operations function a lot like car lots. The onsite salespeople are looking out for the...
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December 5th, 2016

New construction turns 3-Car Monty

Posted by at 12:47 pm

If home prices continue upward in 2016 and 2017, more new home buyers will be established professionals – typically in their 40s, 50s and 60s. First-time buyers, usually younger, historically made up about 30 percent of new construction purchases, but today, that number has shrunk to about 22 percent. With customers having more family members – and decidedly more stuff – builders understandably gravitate to the “bigger” home market. According to Census data, the median size of a house built in 2015 was 2,467 square feet, up from 2,169 in 2010. But apparently, that still isn’t enough. Garages are getting bigger, too! A quarter of the homes built in 2015 were equipped with three-car garages, up from 16 percent of homes in 2010, and 11 percent in 1992. Most of the three-car garage buyers either have teen driver(s) with a car, or...
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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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