Save Water & Money – Some Helpful Links

Save Water AND Money!

Many counties have rebate programs, provide free products & services and give great tips! Check out the link for your area here:

San Francisco   http://www.sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=136

San Mateo Countyhttps://green.smcgov.org/how-save-water

Santa Clara Countyhttp://www.valleywater.org/programs/waterconservation.aspx

City of Palo Altohttp://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/utl/residents/resrebate/resiwater.asp

Alameda Countyhttp://www.acwd.org/index.aspx?NID=134

 

Hard to Recycle Items?

Questions about what is available in your area?

Check Out these Recycling Resources!

 

For any location and great information about projects and ways to reuse materials: http://earth911.com/

Recyclopedia for the Palo Alto area: http://archive.cityofpaloalto.org/forms/recyclopedia/index.lasso

Hazardous Waste Program for Palo Alto:  http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/pwd/zerowaste/whatgoeswhere/hazwaste.asp

Household Hazardous Waste Facility for San Francisco: http://www.recologysf.com/hazardousWasteFacility.htm

Household Hazardous Waste Program for San Mateo County: http://www.smchealth.org/hhw

Household Hazardous Waste Facility for Santa Clara County: http://www.sccgov.org/sites/iwm/hhw/Pages/hhw.aspx

Household Hazardous Waste Facility for Alameda County: http://www.stopwaste.org/home/index.asp?page=3

 

 

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

Shut Out of the Housing Market? First-Timers Dwindle…

The 1st time buyer is the cornerstone to the housing market.  Enjoy this article – I would love to hear your thoughts!  I added my 2 cents at the bottom.

Shut Out of the Housing Market? First-Timers Dwindle

First-time home buyers are particularly being hit hard by rising prices and tougher credit standards — and their decreasing market share proves it.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports that first-time home buyers accounted for 26 percent of purchases in January, down from 30 percent a year earlier. It’s also the lowest market share for first-time buyers that NAR has recorded since it began measuring it in 2008.

The falling number of first-time home buyers has the potential to slow the pace of the recovery, Bloomberg reports. The decline of first-time home buyers is hampering home sales, which dropped 5.1 percent in January compared to a year earlier, NAR reports.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Association of REALTORS®. “We have a ladder of home ownership and need first-time home buyers beginning the process of owning, building equity, and trading up to have a healthy housing sector.”

Some housing advocates are blaming investors for pushing out home buyers, particularly where first-time home buyers are being outbid by investors offering all-cash offers. Nearly 80 organizations are calling on federal regulators to address investors pushing potential home buyers out of the market, reports the California Reinvestment Coalition. They argue that federal housing agencies conducting bulk sales of foreclosed homes and distressed mortgages have heightened the problem.

“We’re ringing the alarm bell now and asking regulators to act,” says Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition. “Wall Street and other cash investors are making it harder for families to buy their first house, for renters to stay in their communities, and for neighborhoods to recover.”

The housing advocates are asking for greater oversight from federal regulatory bodies, such as with more oversight of new investor landlords and ensure that banks aren’t favoring investors over home buyers with FHA loans in REO purchases. The group is also asking for greater research on the disparate impact of REO properties on various communities, particularly the impact to minority communities. Read more about the housing advocates’ stance at the California Reinvestment Coalition website.

Source: “Americans Shut Out of Home Market Threaten Recovery: Mortgages,” Bloomberg Businessweek (March 5, 2014) and “80 Organizations Ask Federal Government to Address Investor Cash Flooding Into Neighborhoods,” California Reinvestment Coalition (March 4, 2014)

Read More

Study: Student Debt Holds Buyers Back, But Doesn’t Need ToNew Low for First-Time Home Buyers

My 2 cents.  When prices were as low as they were going to go – I remember contacting all the buyers I met 10 years ago to let them know there were homes in their price ranges.  Sadly, offer after offer, the 1st time buyers, with loans, were being outbid by investors – or underbid, but out timed by cash investors.  I watched homes sell so darn low to investors, foreign and domestic, my heart hurt.  Here was the opportunity for 1st time buyers, who planned on staying put for 10 years and working on their home – and they couldn’t buy because of the competition.  Now there are plenty of rental properties, but here in the Bay Area the rents are just as high as the mortgages.  I’m sad to see 1st time buyers forced to move away just to buy a home.  And that is no good for growth or our area or our housing market.  Without a first time buyer – there is no second time buyer and so forth.  It will be interesting to see how this effects us.

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/03/06/shut-out-housing-market-first-timers-dwindle?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BTGMphB84q$cpc&om_ntype=RMODaily

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

What Are the Changes in Flood Insurance?

Just a quick update on the changes in Flood Insurance…

What Are the Changes in Flood Insurance?

Property owners in flood zones in San Mateo County are likely to get relief under a bill recently signed by the President. Under the bill:
(1) sales will no longer trigger immediate premium increases.
(2) properties that complied with prior flood map requirements will be grandfathered, which would likely mean that insurers may not require elevation certificates at sale to obtain flood insurance.

In response to homeowners around the country experiencing large increases in flood insurance premiums and to the increased costs at sale due to the Biggert-Waters (B-W) Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (“Biggert-Waters”), both the House (H.R. 3770, The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act) and the Senate (S. 1926) passed bills rolling back some of the B-W provisions. Although the Senate bill was broader, the Senate agreed to go along with the House version.

Other provisions of the House bill are:
(3) it limits yearly premium increases to 15% for nine FEMA property categories, no individual policy increases of more than 18% for most properties built after 1975 and 25% for older properties.
(4) it provides refunds of premiums to homebuyers after Biggert-Waters effective date.
(5) it provides for an annual $50 surcharge for residential policyholders and a $250 surcharge for businesses and second homes.
(6) it strives to reach a goal where most residential policy holders have a premium no greater than 1% of the value of coverage (i.e. $2,000 for a $200,000 policy).
(7) and it establishes a Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA to, among other things, answer current and prospective policyholder questions about the mapping process and flood insurance rates. 

I read this article at: http://www.samcar.org

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

Home Values Expected to Rise through 2018

Home Values Expected to Rise through 2018 – Great Article I had to share…

A majority of more than 100 forecasters says they expect large-scale investors to sell off the bulk of homes in their portfolios in the next three to five years, boosting inventory and potentially contributing to a smoother market ahead, according to the latest Zillow® Home Price Expectations Survey. On average, panelists also say they expected nationwide home value appreciation of 4.5 percent this year, with a steady slowdown in appreciation rates each year through 2018.

The survey of 110 economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists asked panelists to predict the path of the U.S. Zillow Home Value Indexi through 2018 and solicited opinions on investor activity and federal monetary policy. The survey was sponsored by leading real estate information marketplace Zillow, Inc. and is conducted quarterly by Pulsenomics LLC.

Throughout the recovery, large-scale investors have purchased thousands of homes nationwide, particularly lower-priced vacant and foreclosed homes, fixing them up and keeping them in their portfolios as rental properties. This investor activity helped put a floor under sales volumes during the depth of the housing recession, but also created competition for many would-be buyers and contributed to rapid price spikes in some areas.

Panelists were asked to assess the impact to the market if these institutional investors were to significantly curtail their activity this year. Among those panelists expressing an opinion, 79 percent says the impact would be significant or somewhat significant. Panelists were also asked when they thought these investors will have sold the majority of homes in their portfolios. Among those with an opinion, 57 percent says they expected this to occur in the next three to five years.

“Real estate investors, both large and small, played a crucial role in helping to stabilize markets during the darkest days of the housing recession, but a decline in investor activity now isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and could have real benefits for buyers,” says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “Buyers entering the market in the next few months will not be competing with cash-rich investors like they were last year which should be some small solace given the higher prices and mortgage rates that they will encounter. The gradual decline of investor activity should be viewed as another sign of the market slowly returning to normal, and I agree with the panel’s expectations that there will not be a rush for the exit by institutional investors.”

Panelists were also asked when the Federal Reserve should end its ongoing stimulus efforts, known as “quantitative easing.” Since September 2012, the Fed has been purchasing tens of billions of dollars worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage securities each month, which has helped keep mortgage interest rates low and stimulate demand. The program is now being wound down.

“Mortgage rates have been riding a rally in U.S. Treasury securities caused by volatility in emerging markets in recent weeks, so the impact of Fed tapering on the housing market has been minimal thus far,” says Pulsenomics Founder, Terry Loebs. “More than 70 percent of the experts want to see the monetary stimulus reduced to zero before the end of this year, and the current pace of tapering will get us there. Of course, whether Janet Yellen’s Fed will maintain the current pace as new economic challenges arise remains an open question.”

Appreciation Expected to Normalize through 2018

On average, panelists says they expect nationwide home value appreciation of 4.5 percent through the end of this year, a pace that exceeds historically normal annual appreciation rates of around 3 percent. This appreciation is expected to slow to roughly 3.8 percent in 2015 and 3.3 percent by 2018, rates much more in line with historic norms.

Based on current expectations for home value appreciation during the next five years, panelists predicted that overall U.S. home values could exceed their April 2007 peak by the first quarter of 2018, and may cross the $200,000 threshold by the third quarter of 2018.

The most optimistic groupii of panelists predicted a 5.6 percent annual increase in home values this year, on average, while the most pessimisticiii predicted an average increase of 3.4 percent. The most optimistic panelists predicted home values would rise roughly 10.6 percent above their 2007 peaks by the end of 2018, on average, while the most pessimistic says they expected home values to remain about 4.5 percent below 2007 peaks.

What do you think the Real Estate Market will do?

I read this article at:  http://rismedia.com/2014-02-16/home-values-expected-to-rise-through-2018/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eNews

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

Law Requiring Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures is in Effect

Law Requiring Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures is in Effect

Just a re-reminder, state law calling for the replacement of older plumbing fixtures with water-conserving ones went into effect on January 1 of 2014. The law says that when improving a property (based on certain standards and thresholds), new water-conserving toilets, showerheads, faucets and urinals must be installed before the local building department will issue a certificate of final completion and occupancy. The plumbing fixtures that will need to be replaced are: any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons per flush; any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute; any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute and any urinal manufactured to use more than one gallon of water per flush. Homeowners with questions about their individual fixtures are urged to contact their city or county building department.

 

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

Buying a Home After a Short Sale or Foreclosure Just Got Easier!

Home buyers qualify for FHA loan despite short sale or foreclosure

Mortgage borrowers may now qualify for an FHA mortgage under new guidelines established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to Eli Younes of Viking Realty Group in Pembroke Pines on Tuesday.

As a result of the housing collapse, many homeowners experienced a serious reduction in income or lost their jobs due to the crumbling economy. Some mortgage borrowers were forced to file bankruptcy or short sale their home to avoid foreclosure.

Others were not so lucky and lost their home on the courthouse steps.

The new HUD rules allow borrowers whose credit was damaged due to a temporary loss of employment or income to qualify for an FHA mortgage if they have substantially recovered from that situation and maintained a positive credit history for at least 12 months.

Borrowers who recently experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure, short-sale, loan delinquencies, deed-in-lieu, debt collections or other situation negatively impacting their FICO credit score may now be able to qualify for an FHA loan.

Recognizing that any number of events may have impacted a borrowers’ credit rating, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) believes that such catastrophic event does not mean they are not financially stable or unable to make a mortgage payment.

As such, the previous 3-year waiting period required by the FHA on financing a new home has been revised.

“Referred to as the ‘Back to Work’ initiative, this program is designed for borrowers who lost their home through foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu and also suffered a 20% or more loss in household income,” Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage told Examiner. “As with most FHA loans, this program only requires a 3.5% down payment and is applicable for all purchase loans other than the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.”

In order to qualify for a mortgage under the “Back to Work” initiative, there are several steps that must be taken to prove an “Economic Event” that was beyond the borrower’s control.

Employment Requirements:

The lender must verify that the borrower lost at least 20% or more in household income – or became unemployed – for a period of six months prior to the foreclosure, short-sale, or deed-in-lieu. To verify loss of income, the lender must request a written Verification of Employment to show the termination date or loss of income, receipt of unemployment compensation, or signed W-2’s and tax returns detailing the reduction in earnings.

To demonstrate a loss of income for part-time or seasonal employment, the borrower must prove a 2-year history in the same field prior to loss of employment. Borrowers will also be required to prove that they have fully recovered from their hardship, increased earnings and have maintained other credit obligations for a period of 12 months following foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu.

Credit Requirements:

When evaluating a borrower for the “Back to Work” initiative following a foreclosure, the lender may deem the borrower eligible if:

1.) The borrower’s credit report is free of any late housing payments within the last 12 months;

2.) All other mortgage accounts must be current for the last 12 months, even if the loan was previously modified to avoid a foreclosure action;

3.) The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and

4.) The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records. This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.

Bankruptcy Filings:

1.) Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: One year must have elapsed since the bankruptcy discharge. Proof must also be shown that the bankruptcy filing was the result of an “Economic Event” covered within the FHA program guidelines.

2.) Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Most lenders will require that the bankruptcy filing be discharged with all payments required under the agreement having been made on time. For borrowers currently in bankruptcy, written approval from the court allowing them to enter a new mortgage contract is required.

Housing Counseling Requirement:

For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit following an “Economic Event,” mortgage borrowers’ under the “Back to Work” initiative must:

1.) Receive homeownership counseling or a combination of homeownership education and counseling, at a minimum, one hour of one-on-one counseling from HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, as defined at 24 C.F.R. §214.100; and

2.) Be completed a minimum of thirty (30) days but no more than six (6) months prior to submitting a loan application to a lender, as application is defined in Regulation X, implementing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 24 C.F.R. §3500.2(b).

The housing education may be provided by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, state housing finance agencies, approved intermediaries or their sub-grantees, or through an online course. It may be conducted in person, via telephone, via internet, or other methods approved by HUD, and mutually agreed upon by the borrower and housing counseling agency.

Rules for Renters:

Under certain circumstances, renters may qualify under the “Back to Work” initiative. For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit, mortgage borrowers must:

1.) The borrower’s credit report is free of any late rental payments within the last 12 months;

2.) The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and

3.) The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records. This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.

A foreclosure, short-sale, Chapter 13 bankruptcy or deed-in-lieu will continue to plague a borrower’s credit report at the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion consumer reporting agencies for a period of seven years. A discharged Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on the credit report for a period of ten years.

“With the housing crash, many homeowners experienced unemployment or depreciated home values and for one reason or another were not able to make their mortgage payments,” Carlos J. Reyes, a foreclosure defense attorney with the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale, told Examiner. “The recent changes in the FHA guidelines have finally recognized the financial hardship faced by many borrowers and is allowing them to once again reach for the American Dream through homeownership.”

The new guidelines are in effect immediately and will be in force through at least September, 2016.

 

This is truly great news for people who faced economic hardships during our market down turn.  You have a chance to be a homeowner again.  

 

I read this article at: http://www.examiner.com/article/home-buyers-qualify-for-fha-loan-despite-short-sale-or-foreclosure

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

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Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

4 Ways to Supercharge Your House Hunt — and Get Your Sundays Back

It’s that time of year again – Spring is right around the corner, homes are coming on the market and Sunday’s are getting busy again!   I enjoy reading and sharing Tara’s blog on Trulia.  So I thought I would share this great article regarding how to make the best of your open house weekends.  And if you have any real estate questions – I’d be happy to help – The Caton Team is always here a call or click away.  Enjoy…

4 Ways to Supercharge Your House Hunt — and Get Your Sundays Back

Every buyer-to-be uses open houses differently. For some, they offer a rich looky-look experience at the very, very beginning of their house hunt. This empowers you to learn exactly what sort of place you can get for the money, at various price points and various spots around town. It also allows brand new buyers to figure out how the photos you see online translate into real world, brick and mortar (and stucco and hardwood) properties.

At the other end of the spectrum, serious buyers often use Open Houses as a convenient opportunity to meet up with their agent and cruise through a large number of interesting homes at one time every week without having to go through the rigmarole of setting appointments with every single seller.

Whether you’ve just decided that buying a home is something you want to do or you are a seasoned, serious buyer waiting for that moment when “the one” hits the market, supercharge your Open House hours. See more properties that are real contenders and minimize time-wasting with these four tactical tricks:

1. Prep yourself. Sure, you can just hop in the car, drive around and look for signs. If your market is very active, you can even find an interesting house or two that way. Or you can maximize your time, conserve your energy and make sure you see as many real contenders as possible in a couple of hours on the weekend by doing a little bit of digital research to create a power-packed Open House viewing session.

On the newly beautified Trulia app, you can take a look at any point on the map and see a birds-eye-view of the properties for sale, their list prices and which of them have an upcoming Open House. Tap on any property’s flag to see the property’s photo and a few of the most important details (price, address, bedrooms, and bathrooms), while still seeing the map view. For even more info, tap the image of the home you’re interested in and browse all of its relevant stats, including more pictures.  If a home isn’t checking enough of your “must-have” boxes, cross it off your Open House list for the weekend and pat yourself on the back for saving some serious time. If it is, add it to your calendar right from the app.

Tired of driving around different neighborhoods trying to determine if they’re a good fit for your family? Where’s the nearest grocery store? What’s that shady-looking character doing on the street corner? Now you can do it digitally. View the map of your target areas through a number of helpful lenses, like where schools and restaurants are located, or where crime rates are lowest. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll spend less time pounding the pavement so you can have more of your weekend back.

2. Align with your agent to create an Open House viewing list. Via the app, share the properties that you think you’d like to visit on the weekend with your agent. Ask them to do the same, sharing any properties they think you should view at Open House time with you. Then, check in via phone or email to firm up the list so they can plan out an efficient map, do some deep dive research into any property-specific questions you have in advance, and to make sure you don’t have any surprises in the form of places you really wanted to see that don’t make your agent’s list for whatever reason. Do the prep work and get on the same page with your agent in advance. It’ll make your two hours of Open House Hunting as productive as a less well-prepared buyer’s two weeks worth.

One more thing. Making sure your agent knows you are really excited about a particular property at Open House time allows them to touch base with the listing agent and let them know you might have some interest. That way, if they happen to get an offer from another buyer between the time you mention the place to your agent and Open House time, your agent will probably get a call. This prevents you from getting the awful surprise that happens when a great place goes into contract before you can see it.

3. Take notes, and compare them. After every home you see, spend a moment taking down some notes – ideally in writing or on your app – that just help you remember which property features went with which address/price/listing. Once you’ve seen 5 or 10 or 25 homes, they begin to blur, and it often comes up that you’ll want to look back and reference a particular home you visited in a later conversation with your agent or your partner. Having a few notes on your initial impressions, questions, concerns, loves and dislikes about each property prevents you from being frustrated when you later want to have a conversation about it.

Ideally, after each property you see or, at the latest, at the end of your Open House tour on a given day, you’ll also take and compare your notes about the properties you saw that day. I suggest listing out the good (what you liked), the bad (what you disliked), the ugly (any serious deal-killers) and then also the great elements for each property. Think of the great as being akin to clicking the Facebook “Like” button for a property, if that Like button were amped up to “Love.” The Great are those features – or combination of features – so strong that the property is something you’d consider writing an offer on.

The goal here is three-fold:

▪   to give you the ability to compare properties without relying 100% on memory.

▪   to allow you to give substantive feedback to your agent that will help them help you prioritize new listings as they come on the market and learn what you are looking for at a nuanced level

▪   to allow you to compare notes at the end of each Open House Hunting session with your agent or your partner (whoever you’re buying the property with), and to be able to compare pros, cons and takeaways substantively, rather than just saying you liked it or disliked it.

4. Use Open Houses as a screening tool. Here’s the other thing that taking good Open House viewing notes on each property does: it helps you narrow down all the places that looked kind of interesting to a short list for second takes. Good notes, organized by Great, Good, Bad and Ugly can help if you were hypnotized by beautiful staging or turned off unduly by ugly, easily fixable cosmetics. If you love a place, but it still has a lot of bad or ugly line items, or you dislike a place that actually has a lot of “Great” things about it, you can ask your agent to arrange for a private, second viewing before making an offer or totally crossing it off the list.

Communication with your Realtor is so important!  We cannot read your mind and the more we know about what you want – the better we are prepared to find your dream home!

I read this article at:  http://tips.truliablog.com/2014/02/4-ways-to-supercharge-your-house-hunt/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=tips.truliablog.com%2F2014%2F02%2F4-ways-to-supercharge-your-house-hunt%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

Financial Benefits of Home Ownership – Great Article I had to share…

Great article I was very excited to share. Sometimes I see buyers pass an opportunity since the cost of owning is higher than renting. However, with the rental prices in the Silicon Valley going up – it may be time to consider a more secure future by buying your own home. The Caton Team is always here to answer your questions. 650-568-5522 or info@TheCatonTeam.com  – Enjoy this article.

 

Freshen Up On The 7 Financial Benefits of Home Ownership This Tax Season

The financial benefits of homeownership are evident year round, but particularly around tax time – they seem to jump off the page. Let’s examine how homeownership makes “cents” –  from the tax benefits, to good old fashioned financial stability.

1. Homeownership Builds Wealth Over Time

We were always taught growing up that owning a home is a financially savvy move. Our parents knew it, and their parents knew it. But this past decade of real estate turbulence has shaken everyone’s confidence in homeownership. That is why it’s so important that we discuss this again now that we’re in a ‘new market.’ Homeownership can be a very savvy financial move – but only if people buy homes they can actually afford. In 2014, this idea of sticking to a home you can afford to gradually build wealth is a “rule” that just happens to be new and old at the same time.

2. You Build Equity Every Month

Your equity in your home is the amount of money you can sell it for minus what you still owe on it. Every month you make a mortgage payment, and every month a portion of what you pay reduces the amount you owe.  That reduction of your mortgage every month increases your equity. That is especially true now with the elimination of risky mortgages like negative amortized and interest-only loans – thanks to the new “Qualified Mortgage” rules. The way mortgages work is that the principal portion of your payment increases slightly every month year after year. It’s lowest on your first payment and highest on your last payment. Thus, as the months and years go by, your equity grows!

3. You Reap Mortgage Tax Deduction Benefits

▪   Mortgage deduction: The tax code allows homeowners to deduct the mortgage interest from their tax obligations. For many people this is a huge deduction, since interest payments can be the largest component of your mortgage payment in the early years of owning a home.

▪   Some closing cost deductions: The first year you buy your home, you are able to claim the points (also called origination fees) on your loan, no matter whether they are paid by you or the seller. And because origination fees of 1 percent or more are common, the savings are considerable.

▪   Property tax is deductible: Real estate property taxes paid on your primary residence and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes.

4. Tax Deductions on Home Equity Lines

In addition to your mortgage interest, you can deduct the interest you pay on a home equity loan (or line of credit). This allows you to shift your credit card debts to your home equity loan, pay a lower interest rate than the horrendously exorbitant credit card interest rates, and get a deduction on the interest as well.

5. You Get a Capital Gains Exclusion

If you buy a home to live in as your primary residence for more than two years then you will qualify. When you sell, you can keep profits up to $250,000 if you are single, or $500,000 if you are married, and not owe any capital gains taxes. Now, it may sound ridiculous that your house could be worth more than when you purchased it after these past several years of falling house prices. However, if you purchased your home anytime prior to 2003, chances are it has appreciated in value and this tax benefit will come in very handy.

6. A Mortgage Is Like a Forced Savings Plan

Paying that mortgage every month and reducing the amount of your principal is like a forced savings plan. Each month you are building up more valuable equity in your home. In a sense, you are being forced to save—and that’s a good thing.

7. Long Term, Buying Is Cheaper than Renting

In the first few years, it may be cheaper to rent. But over time, as the interest portion of your mortgage payment decreases, the interest that you pay will eventually be lower than the rent you would have been paying. But more importantly, you are not throwing away all that money on rent. You gotta live someplace, so instead of paying off your landlord’s home or building, pay off your own!

As always, you must look very hard at your personal situation before making the big decision to buy. Stay tuned to Trulia Tips as we explore more on this topic.

ALL: What’s your favorite benefit of home ownership?

I read this article at: http://www.trulia.com/tips/2014/02/7-financial-benefits-of-home-ownership/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Ftips%2F2014%2F02%2F7-financial-benefits-of-home-ownership%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

VISIT OUR NEW INSTAGRAM PAGE: http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

4 Saving Solutions for Buyers on a Budget – had to share this article

Buying – rather saving to buy a home, especially on the San Francisco Peninsula take time and patience.  I too am in the same boat as my clients while I save for our next purchase.  That will explain why you don’t see me out to dinner as much!

I came across this article from Tara at Trulia and thought it easier to share than write my own.  Great points made to save and get a better picture of your monthly financials.  Enjoy and share your thoughts!

 

4 Saving Solutions for Buyers on a Budget

Most folks do all the math they can find online about how much house they can afford. Then they think about what they are currently paying in rent and how much they’d be comfortable going up from there, if any. Finally, they hit up the mortgage broker, have them run the numbers and get some final, definitive answer on what the bank will allow them to finance and spend.

Somewhere amongst all those numbers they pick a price that sits well in their heart, their mind and, hopefully, their monthly budget, as a maximum home purchase price – complete with its corresponding monthly expenses like taxes and insurance.

Unfortunately, there are a few critical line items that commonly slip through the cracks of one or more of these calculations. Our mortgage pros only know what they have in front of them, which is mostly based on expenses that show up on our credit reports or loan applications. Additionally, when it comes to our DIY budgets, we often create our household spending plans based on our ideal spending patterns, vs. our actual ones.

One critical exercise to do before you lock in a price range is to look back at your bank statements and spending breakdowns from the preceding few months to see how your actual spending measures up against what you think it should be. Find the places where you need to either adjust your spending or your budget to reflect reality before you buy a home. The other critical exercise is to understand what expense categories should be factored into your calculus on how much house you can afford, even though they are commonly viewed by budget software and banks as discretionary or even luxury line items.

Here are four of those overlooked expense buckets to make sure you consider:

1. Essential “Extras.” Sometimes what we say is important to us is slightly different than what is really important, but I believe you can tell what someone values by what they invest their time, energy, love and money in. So, it’s no surprise that there are lots of meaty expenses that some home buyers-to-be see as essential which a bank or even a financial planner might not have on their radar screen.

Just a few of those items include:

▪   Charitable giving and religious tithes, dues and offerings

▪   Expenses related to caring for an aging parent

▪   Non-western health cares and therapies that are not covered by your insurance, like acupuncture, massage and chiropractic.

I call these out in particular because they are categories which millions of Americans spend hundreds or thousand of dollars on every month – and because there might be no place to even enter such an expense on a loan application or budget software. If you invest a great deal of cash into these items and value them enough to keep doing so after you close escrow, make sure you factor them into your own decision making about what you can afford. It’s permissible – even advisable – for your personal price max to be a lot lower than what the bank deems your top dollar.

2. “Superfluous” Cushion Stuffing. Ding dong, the recession’s over, folks! And we made it through. But during those long, dark years, many people cut back on investing and saving for rainy days and retirement days alike. If that’s you, and your personal economy has recovered enough to support buying a home, congrats! Just make sure you circle back to those recession-era cutbacks and correct for them before you increasing your monthly housing spend. You might want or need to save more than traditional financial guidelines would suggest in order to reposition your retirement or to fluff your cash cushion back up to your personal comfort level.

Make sure you don’t overextend yourself on a home without accounting first for stuffing the cushion(s) you’ll need in the future.

3. Enriching Experiences. Buying a home is one of the single-most high ROI (return on investment) life enriching experiences a person can have, if it’s done smartly and sustainably. But lots of us also invest lots of dough into other enriching experiences, and want to avoid being so cash poor we can’t afford any of them after escrow closes.

Some of the big-ticket items that you might be expending cash on to engage in include:

  • Travel, vacations and family outings
  • Trainers, coaches and therapists
  • Yoga and mind-body wellness activities
  • Retreats and workshops
  • Schooling, conferences, basic and continuing education

If you decide you’re willing to cut back on these sorts of things or forego them entirely to redirect those funds into your home, that’s fine. Just make sure you go into that decision with eyes wide open, while you still have time to decide to spend less so you can continue to engage in these enriching activities.

4. Kid-related Cash Outlays. The honest-to-goodness truth about kidlets is as follows: they cost. Sure, the rewards of parenthood are well worth the cash expenses, but the costs are considerable and are often overlooked when it comes time to list out the line items relevant to how much you can afford to spend on housing. The big ones generally get on the list, like monthly child care for very young children and private school and college tuition for the older ones.

Lots of others get lost in translation of your ideal spending categories and allocations against where your money really goes on a monthly basis. Items that often get underestimated or flat-out omitted in this category include:

  • Extracurriculars – language lessons, music lessons, clubs and classes
  • Gear and equipment – all the gear they need to engage in the above, but also things like pricey school books and educational electronics
  • College Savings – Whether or not you have a formal 529 plan, if you have children you hope to help pay for higher education, you should be allocating some level of regular savings for this.

ALL: What sneaky expenses have you underestimated when trying to build out a budget or understand what you can really and truly afford to spend on housing?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/tips/2014/03/4-saving-solutions-for-buyers-on-a-budget/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=tips.truliablog.com%2F2014%2F03%2F4-saving-solutions-for-buyers-on-a-budget%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

Buying a House Solo? Here are some tips…

3 Next-Gen House Hunting Tips for Singles

The American household has changed – big time. More and more, people get married later in life, if at all. Many even go from married to single and back multiple times throughout their lives. This all means that more and more people are buying homes while single. Many unmarried folks are buying homes to live in on their own, while others are looking for homes to live in with their children, parents or other partners – past, present and future.

If you’re embarking upon the process of buying a home on your own, here are a few things to factor into your thought process and your action plan:

1. Solo doesn’t necessarily mean condo. A decade or two ago, many single house hunters were automatically directed toward low-maintenance condos and townhomes. And truthfully, some singles still enjoy the tax and financial advantages of ownership without the responsibilities of caring for lawns, roofs and other so-called “single family home” features they have no use for.

That said, the descriptor of a detached, standalone property as a “single family home” is woefully out of date. Many single people are electing to purchase detached homes for a number of reasons. Chief among them include:

  • Needing the square footage to allow their household to expand to include future partners, future children, adult children, or even elderly parents
  • Needing extra rooms (or even extra apartments!) to rent out, do hobbies in or run a home business from, and
  • Having the outdoor space for dogs, cats, horses and vegetable gardens, oh my!

If you are dreaming of a life in more of a home than your friends and family members think you can handle and you can well afford the home of your dreams, don’t be daunted. Reach out to other people in your circle of friends who are single and own either single family homes or condos and townhomes to get a sense for their experience. If you decide to go with a condo, make sure you read the HOA disclosures thoroughly and that you understand what you’re getting for your HOA dollars. (Hint: HOA dues often cover expenses you would pay out of pocket otherwise, like waste management fees, landscaping, building insurance and even roof and window maintenance.)

But if you do decide to go the single family home route, make sure you ask your circle (and your agent) for referrals to the contractors, gardeners and handyfolk who can make home maintenance on your own much more doable. It takes a village to maintain a home over the long run. So get a village!

2. Pay extra close attention to home inspections and home warranty provisions. Much of what’s scary about solo home ownership are the seeming risks around things that could go wrong. The most common such fear is a valid one: What happens if something goes wrong with the house? With just one income, it can be frightening to think of how rapidly a lemon of a house could rock your entire financial world.

There are a couple of tools you can build into your transaction that can massively mitigate just this risk. First, your home inspections. Most people think of home inspections as almost pass-fail: if they reveal devastatingly expensive issues, they back out of the deal. But if they don’t surface any fatal flaws, the deal is on.

Single home buyers should view their home inspections as the opportunity to spend a few more hours in the home, discovering its warts and all, before they move forward with the deal. Take special care to attend your inspections in person, ask the inspector to show you the issues they find while they’re on site. Read the reports and get any follow-up inspections or repair bids before your contingency period runs out. That way, you’ll have a concrete idea of the financial exposure to repairs that are needed right now while you can still either (a) negotiate to get the seller to chip in or (b) back out of the deal without penalty, if you need to.

The second tool is a largely underrated one: your home warranty plan. Most buyers get one, and often sellers pay for it. But what many buyers don’t realize is that (a) they can pay to upgrade the plan so that the warranty company will cover a wide assortment of future home repairs, and (b) they can and should renew their home warranty plan annually, in the future. Having the ability to ring up the home warranty company and spend $50 for a service call when your water heater, furnace, or plumbing goes on the fritz can dramatically reduce the fear factor of solo home ownership.

3. Consult with legal and financial pros before you buy with a relative, friend or partner. Buying a home with a friend, a parent, a sibling or even a life partner can seem like the cure for what ails a single person’s home buying situation. Namely, it injects additional financial resources, allows you to buy a pricier (read: larger, nicer, better located) property than you could on your own, and even positions you to have help making hard house hunt decisions and maintaining the place going forward.

Co-buying has big benefits, but it also poses some serious questions – questions that a lawyer, tax advisor or financial planner can help you anticipate and resolve, in advance, to avoid conflicts later. If you decide to go the co-buying route, make the investment of time and money up front to get some professional advice about how to structure the transaction and the financial relationship. Doing so, and reducing the agreement to a clear, professionally-drafted written contract that is recognized by and filed on record with the relevant state and local governments can go a very long way toward helping you avoid later damage to the interpersonal relationship with your co-buyer.

BUYERS: Did your status as single or married factor into your house hunting decisions? If so, how? If not, why?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/tips/2014/03/3-next-gen-house-hunting-tips-for-singles/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Ftips%2F2014%2F03%2F3-next-gen-house-hunting-tips-for-singles%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

VISIT OUR NEW INSTAGRAM PAGE:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedInhttp://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

 The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008