Changes are Coming to FHA Home Loans…

Changes are Coming to FHA Home Loans

I am a fan of the FHA home loan because it helps so many first time buyers get a home here on the SF Peninsula where home prices are an the high side.  What saddens me are the recent changes in store for FHA clients.

Newly Originated FHA-Insured Loans Will Become More Expensive Beginning June 3, 2013.

One of the attractive features of FHA mortgages is the low down payment option. In fact, many FHA loan programs require as little as 3.5% down.

Today, mortgage insurance on FHA loans remains in place for a finite period of time. However, on most new FHA loans originated on or after June 3rd, the MI premium will remain for the life of the loan. 

Now sure how this will impact you?  Give The Caton Team a call or email!

If you or someone you care about have considered purchasing a home, please contact us immediately to ensure this new FHA policy doesn’t increase the lifetime cost of the transaction. Beating the June 3rd clock could potentially save thousands over the life of the loan.

And please do not be discouraged – there are several different loan options and programs available!

Thank you Melanie Flynn of First Priority Financial for this information.  If you would like to connect with Melanie – give us a call or email!

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Are Home Prices Rising Too Fast?

Hello Readers!
Found this article and had to share it.  Why?  Because this is on all our minds.  My 2 cents are in italics.
  
When the real estate market hit bottom you could feel the thud.  Buyers were leery of buying afraid home prices would continue to fall and sellers wouldn’t sell if their life depended on it not wanting to take any kind of loss.  Thankfully those days are behind us.  What a difference 1 year makes….it is obvious the memo is out and buyers are ready to buy again.  However, sellers are not quite there yet.  It seems that the bulk of properties for sale since 2009 were pre and post foreclosures, overinundating the market with options.  Come 2012 and today, with sellers not quite ready to put their homes on the market inventory remains low in our area – thus pushing prices up.
No Realtor or client enjoys markets like this.  Multiple offers, over bidding, no contingencies – all this is back in force right now.  Ideally we would like to see a normal healthy market with normal growth.  But with so few homes for sales and pent up buyers jumping off the fence – it is amazing to see this change that has taken place in the real estate world.
Enjoy the article – and would love to hear YOUR thoughts too!
Are Home Prices Rising Too Fast?
Some housing analysts are concerned that the sudden rise in home prices could make homes more unaffordable again if the price increases outpace income growth, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Average housing costs for home buyers who took out a mortgage were around 22.5 percent of average incomes, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. That is down from 38.5 percent in 2006, the peak of the housing bubble. The historical average is about 33 percent.
But with home prices rising in many markets and, in some, rising at a faster pace than income levels, will more people soon be priced out of the market?
Housing analysts say that, for now at least, lower mortgage rates are offsetting the higher prices of homes.
Borrowers have seen their purchasing power rise by around 33 percent over the past four years due to the low interest rates, The Wall Street Journal reports. For example, a borrower can make a $1,000 monthly mortgage payment and qualify for a $222,000 mortgage at today’s low interest rates, compared to 2008 when they’d likely qualify for $165,000 when mortgage rates were around 6.1 percent — nearly double what they are today.
Borrowers are able to withstand home-price increases because of the low rates, not because household incomes are growing, The Wall Street Journal reports. If mortgage rates tick back up to the 6 percent or 8 percent range, homes may look overpriced relative to incomes, according to housing analysts.
By: DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS
Source: “Why Rising Interest Rates Could Eventually Curb Price Gains,” The Wall Street Journal (April 10, 2013)
 
Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.
Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com
Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/
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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:
Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The home bidding wars are back!

Always nice to find a good article to share.  Enjoy By Les Christie CNNMoney

The home bidding wars are back!

The bidding wars are back. Seemingly overnight, many of the nation’s major housing markets have gone from stagnant to sizzling, with for-sale listings drawing offers from a large number of house hunters.

In March, 75% of agents with broker Redfin said their clients’ offers were countered by rival bids, up from 56% who said so in late 2011.

The competition has been most intense in California, where 9 out of 10 homes sold in San Francisco, Sacramento and cities in Southern California drew competing bids during the month. And at least two-third of listings in Boston, Washington D.C., Seattle and New York generated bidding wars.

“The only question is not whether a new listing will get multiple bids but how many it will get,” said Kris Vogt, who manages 14 Coldwell Banker offices in the Sacramento area. One home in an Elk Grove, Calif., subdivision recently received 62 separate bids. The final sale price was for more than $150,000, well above its $129,000 asking price.

In Cambridge, Mass., two condos that could be combined into one large home hit the market two weeks ago for $800,000 each, according to Pat Villani, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New England.

“The brokers stopped taking names after the number of bidders reached 250,” she said. The winning bidder offered $2 million for both units.

Related: Five best markets to buy a home

Homebuyers eager to purchase before home prices and mortgage rates rise are finding few homes for sale as sellers hold out for better deals, said Glenn Kelman, Redfin’s CEO.

Many homeowners are still underwater, owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, and they want to wait until selling becomes profitable again. By doing so, they can avoid short sales, which carry big hits on credit scores, 85 to 160 points, according to FICO.

“Many people have been holding on for a profit and they’re just now getting their heads above water,” said Kelman.

Those who want to sell and buy a new home are encountering a market where it’s difficult to find a new place of their own, said Vogt.

Related: Five best markets to sell a home

Over the past few months, Jackie and Cliff Kaufman have bid on four different homes in St. Petersburg, Fla., including one short sale and a foreclosure.

The pair, who have two adult children and run an online jewelry business, said they bid $5,000 more than the $495,000 asking price on the first home they had their eye on and never heard back from the seller’s agent. They were later told the house sold for nearly $550,000.

Next, they bid on a short sale listed for $600,000. This time, they came in $10,000 above the asking price and again, they were beaten out. The house was only on the market for two days.

The third attempt to make an offer on a bank-owned property was also met with silence.

Related: Buy or rent? 10 major cities

“It was very frustrating,” said Jackie Kaufman. “We felt we were always on the outside of the loop and that people who won the homes had the inside track.”

By the fourth try, the couple successfully bid through a listing agent, who they believe pushed their bid harder in order to earn a double commission since she was representing both the buyer and seller in the deal. And they managed to get the place for $30,000 less than the asking price.

They were lucky. Inventories of homes for sale continue to shrink. In February, the National Association of Realtors reported a 19.2% decline in inventory year-over-year. While the number of homes for sale should rise with the onset of the spring selling season, housing inventory is expected to remain low, pushing prices higher.

Related: Fastest growing boomtowns

And new home construction, especially in markets hit hard by the housing bust, is still moving forward at a snail’s pace, since the cost to build the homes is often more than what the property ends up selling for, said Jeff Culbertson, president of Coldwell Banker’s Southern California operations.

Even though home prices are on the rise, the balance between buyers and sellers has been thrown off balance, said Kelman.

“With buyers out in force and sellers cautious, the market is in an awkward ‘tweener’ phase,” he said.

I read this article at:  http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/04/real_estate/bidding-wars/index.html?source=linkedin

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

New App for Home Maintenance… BrightNest

Hello Readers!

I just got wind of a new computer site and mobile app for home maintenance.  I just signed up this morning to give it a spin.  Easy to use, free and so far reminds me a Pintrest.

You input which systems you have in your home and it gives you tips on maintenance and you can select to get tips on safety, being green or DIY protects and updating.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

https://brightnest.com

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Reality of Real Estate Reality TV – by Sabrina Caton

The Reality of Real Estate Reality TV

Aside from my passion in real estate, I love writing and learning about movie and TV production.  A while back, a high-school friend of mine, Robin, was on one of the popular Real Estate Reality shows that so many of us are addicted too.  As soon as I finished her episode I was online asking her questions about her experience and how it all worked out.

The truth behind “real estate reality” TV was as enlightening as it was awesome.  Why?  Because the truth set me free!  It confirmed it’s an entertainment show and not a true reflection on how buying a home really works.

Robin told me the episode is shot backwards.  They had already purchased their condo, they had spent plenty of weekdays and weekends house-hunting with their agent and doing the real work.  However, after they closed escrow on their new home, the production of the show started.  They walked through their future home and pretended to shop it.  Then the producers found two other properties, ones they may or may not have seen prior to buying and they walked through those too – pretending to pick it apart or discuss their likes and dislikes.

Then at the end of the show, they reveal which unit they bought and it’s all smiles and a shot of signing a one-page contract.  So not a true picture of what it takes to buy a home!

The relief spilled over me.  Of course, I knew these shows were for entertainment.  Going on 10 years as a Realtor myself, I’ve rarely showed a home, drew up a contract, got the contract accepted and closed escrow in 30 minutes, minus the commercial spots.  But the people, the real buyers, are watching the show and not thinking about it as entertainment as much as following a buyer’s journey.

That’s where the hard part starts for us Realtors!  Get a new client in the car, ready to show some homes and they tell you – we only want to do this for about a month. Scrape my jaw off the floor and break the truth to them.  In today’s real estate market, at least here on the SF Peninsula – you’ll be house hunting for months!  Some people can handle it some cannot.  I guess it’s one of those moments where you separate the men from the boys.

So I thought I would write a blog about it and share my ‘Ah-Ha’ moment.  Because we, (myself included before I became a licensed Realtor), would sit down and enjoy these shows and in the back of our minds we believed it was that easy.

In the last year or so, the SF Peninsula has switched from a buyers market, with plenty of inventory in various price ranges and condition, to a sellers market, with limited inventory and even the trashy properties receiving multiple offers and over bidding.

Real estate, as all things are, is cyclical.  What goes up, goes down, then up again.  That’s when I remind my buying clients that life is not like those TV shows, not even close to the ones branded as Reality TV.  If you truly want to own a piece of the Silicon Valley, it is going to take work, patience, and flexibility.  And the view from my drivers seat is fantastic.  There are opportunities out there for each buyer, they just have to open their eyes and their mind – and drop the ‘reality’ from those TV shows.

So get off the couch and in my car – we’ll take you on a real Real Estate journey – just a bit longer than 30 minutes.

Thanks for reading!  Sabrina
Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.
Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com
Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/
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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:
Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Bay Area Real Estate Market is Sizzling!

Found this great article by Carolyn Said of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Had to share and add my 2 cents are in italics.

Tight inventory – a dearth of homes for sale – is driving bidding wars throughout the Bay Area, sending prices up and leaving scores of disappointed would-be buyers. Homes that do hit the market sell within days.

So few homes are listed for sale that agents are resurrecting old ways of drumming up business – going door to door, leaving cards and flyers and writing personal letters, asking owners if they’re interested in selling. Social networking and e-mail blasts are being used to increase inventory as well.

This is all too true.  The Caton Team has started targeting areas, condo complexes, neighborhoods and individual homes to find the right home for our buying clients.  It’s that tough!  And with some first time buyers, the window is closing as prices creep up.  Not to mention we are on the edge of our seats worried if interest rates rise.

“People are going old-school, farming their territory,” said Lynda D, an agent in the East Bay, using real estate agent slang for canvassing neighborhoods.

While tight inventory is a national trend, it’s especially pronounced in the Bay Area.

Alameda County, for instance, had 949 homes for sale in February, down 64 percent from the 2,617 on the market at the same time last year, according to data from Realtor.com, the listings website of the National Association of Realtors. Contra Costa County had 899, down 58 percent from 2,152 in February 2012.

“Those are striking reductions in inventory,” said Errol Samuelson, president of Realtor.com.

While inventory numbers did tick up slightly from January to February, that was a normal seasonal change, not an indication of the logjam loosening.

“After seasonal adjustments, inventory is still falling; the underlying trend is still downward,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist with real estate site Trulia.com.

However, he thinks the rate of decline is slowing.

“Inventory tends to fall the most sharply after prices bottom, as no one wants to sell at the bottom, they just want to buy,” he said. Trulia shows that Bay Area prices bottomed more than a year ago.

Price a factor

Sellers remain reluctant and elusive for several reasons. Those who are still underwater – owing more than their house is worth – have the obvious impediment of not wanting to do a short sale.

But many others “feel underwater based on the price they paid,” Samuelson said. That is, someone who paid $700,000 for a home in 2007 won’t feel good about selling it for $625,000 right now, even though the sale would cover their remaining mortgage.

Some potential sellers, seeing prices surge, are hoping to hold out for more. Others who might want to move up to a bigger house fear that the market frenzy means they won’t be able to find or afford anything else.

This is such a dilemma.  If a seller has enough equity, finally, to sell – the next question is – Where do we go?  If a seller wants to stay in the Bay Area, selling now means jumping into the buying pool – and that pool is man eat man!  So this truly creates a problem.

Now that it’s spring, the busiest real estate season, more homes should start hitting the market. But many agents have been taking matters into their own hands, making pitches directly to potential sellers about why it’s time to get off the fence.

Although there are numerous online sites to track homes for sale, “the way the market is set up now is forcing us to go back to the beginning where (agents) walk up to a door and knock and say, ‘Hi, how are you, my name is … ‘ ” said Adelaida M, a Realtor in San Francisco.

Personal touch

She recently worked with a client seeking a home in San Francisco’s Clarendon Heights neighborhood, above Cole Valley. After losing out with bids, she walked the neighborhood with him and identified houses he particularly liked. Mejia looked up the homeowners and wrote personal letters to each, explaining that her client loved the area and was seeking a house there.

“Three weeks later, one person called me back and said ‘We loved your letter, we’d love to talk even though we’re not on the market, come on over,’ ” she said.

Rich and Renee G, the homeowners, said they received two or three agent solicitations a week after unsuccessfully trying to sell the house last year, but ignored them because they were form letters.

I couldn’t agree more.  The Caton Team has taken this stance and only solicits a seller when we have an actual buyer for their home.  We’re not trying to just get listings.  We are trying to unit buyers and sellers.  I personally experienced what it feels like to be a seller for the past three years.  Back and forth with my loan modification paperwork, we placed our home on the market and with no offers, pulled it off the market for a spell.  During that time I got stacks and stacks of form letters.  Truthfully, it was starting to frost my cookies.  It was evident all us Realtors are trying to drum up business, but the form letters were bothering me.  They were heartless and actually hurt me – because we didn’t really want to sell – but had to.  In the end we listed our home in October of 2012 and sold it within weeks!  Now, on the other side of the fence, I consider how a homeowner would feel when they get a form letter.  Therefore The Caton Team takes the time to write a real letter, talk about the buyers we are representing and take it from there.

“Adelaida’s note was different; more personalized,” Rich said. “We were planning to put the house on the market again, but the note just pre-empted that.”

Her client ended up visiting the house, making an all-cash offer and buying it. “It was a really stress-free experience for both” the buyer and seller, she said.

If you do ask The Caton Team of your Realtor to solicit homes for you – be prepared to pay fair market value or more because if you aren’t willing too – the seller will simply put the home on the market, get multiple offers and sell for top dollar.  So in other words, you need to ‘make them an offer they cannot refuse.’

Beating the bushes for sellers is an about-face from just 18 months ago, when the challenge was to find people who wanted to buy.

A corresponding trend is that homes are selling very quickly.

‘Unbelievable’

“The median days on market in Contra Costa is 13 days – that’s unbelievable,” Samuelson said. A year ago it was 33 days.

Redfin has identified another trend it calls “flash sales” – homes that sell within 24 hours of being listed, usually because a buyer swoops in with an offer too good to refuse. Often, those are buyers who have lost other bidding wars and are determined to land a property.

In the past six months, almost 1,000 Bay Area properties went under contract within one day, Redfin said.

That’s the truth.  The Caton Team has started showing homes the day they come on the market and are prepared, right then and there, to write an offer if our client likes the home.  Gone are the days, for now at least, that you could see a home, think about it, maybe sleep on it, then write the offer.  Lately it’s felt like – ‘you like it – let’s write’!   And with each offer we write for each buyer, we’re doing everything we can to make the offer more likable to the seller.  We are using every tool in our toolbox and the toolbox of our clients. 

“I just had that experience at a house in the Oakland hills,” DiVito said. “I held the brokers’ tour just before putting it on the market. A buyer and agent walked in and offered us our list price in cash on the spot.”

Underscoring how much the market has changed, she said her sellers had tried to sell the house a year ago “and could not move this property, even though they lowered the price three times.”

Been there done that.  It is amazing how much our real estate market has changed in one year alone.  In 2010 and 2011 I had my own condo to sell, and nobody was interested.  October 2012 – put it on the market and within days I had several offers.  In the end, 20 offers on the same condo.  Amazing what a year can do.

Same-day offer

The sellers, who were buying a new home and needed to sell quickly, were happy to take the same-day offer since a cash deal meant it couldn’t be derailed by problems with financing or appraisals.

“Flash-sale terms tend to be really good because (buyers) really want to lock down that property quickly,” DiVito said. “They’re more willing to meet the sellers’ needs to scoop it up before anyone else gets it.”

What happens next with inventory is a big question hanging over the real estate recovery.

“My best guess is that you’ll see an orderly return of inventory to the market,” Samuelson said. “I don’t expect that you’ll see the floodgates open and torrents of properties hit the market. But for each percentage point increase in price, there will be some people who for life reasons have wanted to sell for the past five years – their kids moved out, they got divorced – and now feel that the time is right and they have enough equity.”

Don’t be discouraged if you are a buyer out there.  Don’t sit back either.  The best education a buyer can have is living the market.  So if you are thinking of buying a home, get pre-approved, call The Caton Team or your Realtor and come up with a plan.  The more active you are today – the better prepared you will be tomorrow.

I read this article at: http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Homes-sell-faster-than-ever-in-Bay-Area-4375058.php

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

‘Smishing’ – A new ID theft Scam via Texts and Smart phones! BEWARE!

I love sharing articles that I think are useful.  This one came from my lovely Farmers

Insurance Agent Gary Neely – take a read.  And as I always tell my folks – DO NOT CLICK

on links!  From anyone!  Enjoy!

‘Smishing’ …
A new ID theft scam

Have you been “smished” lately? Identity theft expert and consultant Robert Siciliano says to be on the alert for text messages with links — they could be an ID theft scam known as smishing.1

Similar to phishing (which involves email), smishing uses cell phone text messages to deliver bait that’s intended to get you to divulge personal information. Smishing may involve winning a prize or a message that contains something that requires your immediate attention — the link tells you to “click here.” If you click on the infected link, it downloads malware that allows the bad guys to gain control of your device remotely. They can then use your phone from anywhere in the world to access your banking information, credit card data and the like.

What to do 
If you receive a text message that asks for sensitive information:

  • Do not reply to the message.
  • Do not click on any of the links that may be embedded in the message.
  • Contact your carrier’s privacy or fraud team. If their company name or brand is used in efforts to fraudulently obtain personal information, they may choose to pursue legal action.
  • Contact your bank or financial institution to be sure your accounts have not been compromised.

Visit the FTC Identity Theft website to learn more about how to minimize damage from identity theft. If you believe that you have been a victim of a smishing scam, you can file an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.

Bottom line: Avoid clicking

Save someone from getting smished
As technology provides new ways to expose and defend against familiar scams, clever con artists devise new ones. We’ll continue to keep you informed and ask that you share this with loved ones and friends — smish be gone, forward this on!

1http://www.andersoncooper.com/2012/05/16/beware-of-smishing-identity-theft-scam

I read received this article from my fabulous Insurance Agent – Gary Neely with Farmers at: http://www.farmersinsuranceemail.com/ffv/201303/02.html

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/thesabby

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

 

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina