SHOULD YOU BUY A HOME DURING THE HOLIDAYS?

Funny – I was just writing my own blog about our local real estate market when I came across this article from San Diego.  It’s not local – but it hits home – thought I’d share and add my two cents….

SHOULD YOU BUY A HOME DURING THE HOLIDAYS?

Once Thanksgiving is over, the real estate world starts to wind down for the holidays and it typically reawakens after the Times Square ball drops and resolutions come to life.

But if you’re a potential homebuyer who’s prepared to close in today’s competitive market, you may want to keep shopping while everyone’s waiting for spring, some real estate agents suggest.

The Caton Team has found that buyers on a concrete budget find great values if they are flexible during the holidays.  We’re ready when you are.

That advice may be especially relevant this year for consumers who have repeatedly lost out on deals because of a limited and continually decreasing supply of homes, but remain persistent. Buying intensity typically cools down at the start of fall through early January, which could increase the odds for those with more patience.

Related: Report: We’re in the midst of a housing recovery

Home sales have increased from October to November only four times since 1988, when DataQuick began to track home sales and prices locally.

In the other years, transactions have fallen from anywhere between 0.2 percent and nearly 26 percent. Home listings have dropped off from 3 percent to 11 percent during those months in the past three years.

“During Christmas, people will be focused on the holidays and nothing really happens,” said Ken Pecus, co-founder of San Diego-based Ascent Real Estate and 20-plus-year real estate veteran.

“The first week of January, the new mindset kicks in, resolutions kick in, and in the second and third week, people look at their taxes, and almost overnight, by the end of January, you have almost twice the buyers in the market,” Pecus added.

Would-be buyers historically have bowed out during the winter season because they are overwhelmed by holiday spending and commitments. There’s also the aversion of moving in the middle of a school year. Consumer interest typically picks back up again in the New Year and peaks in the spring.

Related: Demand for homes stays strong during the fall

Certain buyers may be well-served to buy during the winter because of sellers who must move because of:

• A job change or transfer.

• The possible sunsetting of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, said Donna Sanfilippo, president of the San Diego Association of Realtors. The potential expiration of the law, which lets certain home sellers get tax relief on mortgage debt forgiven by lenders, has pushed home sellers scrambling to list and short sell their homes before the end of the year.

In some cases though, the rush to do that is unwarranted. Consult a tax pro to determine if short selling is right for you.

• The fact they’ve been waiting to sell their home for a long time and need to buy something quickly. If you can wait a little longer to sell your home and want to maximize your profit, then wait until the peak spring months.

Even with the expected holiday homebuying slowdown, buyers should know that the inventory level may still be a challenge.

Right now, there are more than 4,700 active listings in the county, down 11 percent from October and down more than half from the same time a year ago, based on numbers from the San Diego Association of Realtors. The current level marks at least a three-year low.

In the San Francisco Peninsula – inventory has been low all year, fueling multiple offers on homes and driving prices up due to competition outweighing supply.   There has been moments, for example in San Carlos we had 25 listings and Redwood City had 36 – for the whole city.  That’s not enough homes for the volume of demand out here.

Buyers also may deal with the challenges of bidding against cash buyers and investors, who can look more attractive than traditional buyers.

The Caton Team has witnessed Cash Buyers at all price points – under $500,000 to over 1,500,000.  Sellers have the opportunity to pick the best offer among several.  And sellers are being savvy – taking higher down payments when possible.  When The Caton Team prepares an offer, it is more than just price.

Their share of the homebuying market has remained strong. Almost 28 percent of total homes sold in October were purchased by absentee buyers, many of whom are investors. That’s up from 27 percent logged a year ago and in September.

Hovering near the peak, almost one-third of buyers bought with cash in October.

“I’m expecting 60 to 70 people at my open house,” said San Diego Realtor Miguel Contreras before a recent Wednesday showing at a property in La Mesa. “The property is a fixer, so it’s mostly investors.”

Sounds familiar in the SF Peninsula market.  Open houses visitors are strong, and often there is enough activity to warrant an offer day before the following weekend.  I’ve seen homes have one open house and take offers on Monday.  That’s a break neck pace if you ask me, and I’m a veteran.  My first time buyers can’t move that fast.  And with prices climbing, the early bird get’s the worm if he can’t process the information fast enough.

Related: Another hurdle for short sales

Contreras, who worked during Thanksgiving week, said he’ll make himself available throughout the holidays to cater to what he expects to be a continued interest from investors, cash buyers and traditional buyers.

The same goes for Cherilyn Jones, another local real estate agent. Last week, she was preparing for two new listings to come online. Her most common clients are first-time homebuyers and investors.

“The investors have not slowed down,” Jones said. “We get holiday freeze, but not for investor clients. It’s hard to find them properties because their criteria is very, very specific … and the deals are not as good as they used to be.”

Article By: Lily Leung

Last Thoughts…

In our 25+ years of local Real Estate experience, buying during the holidays can truly benefit buyers who’ve been outbid all year.  We’ve found homes for buyers over the holiday season that would have been snapped up in a hot second during the spring or summer.  As long as buyers are flexible and open minded – there is definitely some Christmas Miracles in the making this time of year.  Keep a look out for my next Cinderella Stories about Russ and Natalie and the home we found over Thanksgiving!

I read this article at:  http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/dec/01/does-it-make-sense-buy-home-during-winter/?page=2#article

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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

 

San Mateo County Homebuyer Assistance Program

Music to my ears.  Just came across this program to help homebuyers living and working in San Mateo County.  Please visit their website for updates.

Homebuyer Loans

Downpayment assistance loans for first-time homebuyers
in San Mateo County

Together with Meriwest Mortgage, HEART has created a customized loan package that is not offered by any other lender. Our goal is simple: to help you buy a home with a 5% downpayment.

Working with Meriwest Mortgage, a wholly owned subsidiary of the not-for-profit Meriwest Credit Union, HEART has created an entirely new loan package that helps qualified moderate-income families earning not more than $150,000 and who have not owned a home in San Mateo County in the last 3 years and meet other qualifications, buy their first home in San Mateo County, or to move substantially closer to transit in the county. This program does not apply in Daly City.

* Guidelines current as of July 2012. Subject to change based on rapidly changing market conditions. Check back often for updates, or call John Souza at Meriwest Mortgage at (408) 849-7115.

How does the Opening Doors Program work?

Together with a Meriwest Mortgage first home mortgage loan, HEART of San Mateo County offers a below-market rate second loan up to $78,225 to help facilitate a home purchase with a minimum of 5% downpayment. This program does not apply in Daly City. You may purchase a home or condo anywhere else in San Mateo County.

Based on the maximum sales price of $521,250, with a conforming first mortgage amount limit of $417,000, the maximum 2nd mortgage loan is  up to $78,225. Borrowers can put more money down on a home purchase above the $521,250 limit, however, the first and second mortgages remain at the previously described limits.

The 2nd mortgage allows for an 80% loan to value ratio on the first mortgage. The purchaser is not required to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI) for this loan. This results in significant savings to the homeowner of thousands of dollars in annual mortgage insurance premiums.

The Meriwest Mortgage first loan products that will be available for this special program are:

a 30-year fixed rate

a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) 30-year full amortizing

and a 5/1 ARM adjustable 40-year loan fully amortizing.

In combination, these loans reduce the monthly payment to the homeowner. Note the maximum loan is subject to change depending on market conditions. The first mortgage may be up to 80% Loan to Value.

Who Qualifies?

In order to qualify for this loan, you must meet a few specific requirements. There aren’t many of them, but they are important, and you must be able to prove that you meet each and every one of them. Please review the list below and check those to which you can answer “yes.”
Guidelines current as of July 2012. Subject to change based on rapidly changing market conditions. Check back for updates, or call John Souza at Meriwest Mortgage at (408) 849-7115.

Do you and your family earn $150,000 or less each year?

Do all borrowers have good credit – FICO score 680 or higher?

Is the purchase price of the property you want to buy $521,250 or less?

Do you currently live or work in San Mateo County? If you live or work in Daly City, you may apply for this program, but you cannot purchase a home or condo in Daly City.

Is the home you are purchasing in San Mateo County? This program does not apply in Daly City.

Have you NOT owned a home during the past 36 months, OR, if you have, will you be selling your current home and buying one that is substantially closer to transit in San Mateo County?

Will the total household debt to income ratio be less than 45%?

Will you be able to make a down payment of 5% of the purchase price?

Will you be able to demonstrate continuous employment for 24 months prior to application?

Do you have 5% downpayment available?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may qualify for Opening Doors. To begin the application process and find out for certain if this program is right for you, click on the APPLY NOW button. You will be taken to the website of Meriwest Mortgage, a subsidiary of Meriwest Credit Union, and you will be asked to begin an application for a mortgage loan

Click Here to Apply

If you have problems accessing the site, have questions, or need further information, please call HEART at (650) 872-4444 ext. 4#, or email pstinson@heartofsmc.org.

FAQ

Q: What do I do if I have more questions?

A: You can download a full set of Frequently Asked Questions here

Q: What are the interest rates?

A:  Please call John Souza at Meriwest Mortgage, 408-849-7115 for today’s rates.

Q: How is the program funded?

A: HEART’s donations from local employers fund the program. HEART continues to raise funds to enable this program to grow and serve even more local employees. Please click on the Donate Now button to make a gift, or contact Paula Stinson at (650) 872-4444, ext. 4#, pstinson@heartofsmc.org Thank you!

I read this article at: http://www.heartofsmc.org/programs/homebuyer-assistance/

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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Home Prices Rebound According to CNN Money – enjoy this shared article…

Home prices rebound

By Chris Isidore CNNMoney

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — In another sign of a turnaround in the long-battered real estate market, average home prices rebounded in July to the same level as they were nine years ago.

According to the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index, which covers more than 80% of the housing market in the United States, the typical home price in July rose 1.6% compared to the previous month.

It marked the third straight month that prices in all 20 major markets followed by the index improved, and it would have been the fourth straight month of improvement across the full spectrum if not for a slight decline in Detroit in April.

The index was up 1.2% compared to a year earlier, an improvement from the year-over-year change reported for June. While home prices have been showing a sequential change in recent months, it wasn’t until June that prices were higher than a year earlier.

The July reading matched levels last seen in summer 2003, when the market was marching toward its peak in 2006. The collapse of the market after that led to the financial crisis of 2008.

“The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing,” said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Single-family housing starts are well ahead of last year’s pace, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing.”

Record low mortgage rates and a tighter supply of homes available for sale have helped to lift home prices. Lower unemployment also has helped with home prices, although job growth in recent months has been slower than hoped.

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve announced it would buy $40 billion in mortgage bonds a month for the foreseeable future. This third round of asset purchases by the central bank, popularly known as QE3, is its effort to jump start the economy through even lower home loan rates.

Related: Best home deals in Best Places

Mike Larson, real estate analyst with Weiss Research, said part of the improvement in the housing market is due to investors using the low mortgage rates to buy up homes that are in foreclosure and renting them in a strong rental market.

But he said that he doesn’t think there’s much chance of housing prices forming any kind of new bubble in the foreseeable future.

“Clearly the worst is behind us for this market., but this is not a market that is going to take off again,” he said. “While you have a firming up, you still have tight lending standards and people who have been burned are reluctant or unable to get back in the market.” He predicts it will take several more years before housing prices can gain more than 1% to 2% a year.

Related: Buy or rent? 10 major cities

But that is good news for a housing market that was plagued by plunging home values and high foreclosure rates for much of the last six years. And the good news has the potential to build on itself, said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank.

“Housing remains a rare bright spot in an economy that is otherwise muddling through,” he wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “The price trend for housing is significant, because it provides economic stimulus via stronger household balance sheets.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that home prices had reached a 9-year high. In fact, they rebounded to the level last seen in summer 2003, before their peak several years later.

Curious about the local real estate market on the San Francisco Peninsula?  Email me! 

I read this article at: http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/25/real_estate/home-prices/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/

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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Loan Limits Have Changed… check out this site…

For more information on the change in loan limits – visit the Fannie Mae webiste at:  https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/refmaterials/loanlimits/

-Sabrina

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us 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 me at: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:  http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

How to Write a Great Offer on Bank Owned Homes (post foreclosure)

Point Blank – Writing a good offer is writing a good offer.  Price is most important, then close of escrow, contingency terms and then buyer qualifications.  Just about in that order.  So when a buyer is faced with writing an offer on a Bank Owned home – it is just about as easy as writing an offer on a home where the buyer is working directly with the seller.

The Caton Team Realtors, will provide the buyer with comparable market information – homes of similar condition and size – and what they are selling for.  Armed with this info, the buyer can decide a fair market price to offer.  Since the home is bank owned – the bank is very aware of the homes market value and has elected to sell the property in the open market instead of an auction – most likely because the bank will get more money in a normal sale versus an auction.  So our advise to a buyer – be realistic in your offer price.  Too low and the bank will move on, there can be some back and forth counter offers – but generally it is cut and dry or the bank will hold onto an offer till a better one comes along.  (At least that is how it feels to the waiting buyer.)

Next are the terms.  A bank owned home can move MUCH faster than a short sale.  A buyer will want to keep their property and loan contingencies tight – 10 – 17 days and generally a 30 days close of escrow is acceptable – if not shorter since the home is already vacant.

The downside bank owned homes – no disclosures except for the CA State Mandatory Disclosures – but those pertain more to the area than the actually home.  Why?  The bank has NEVER lived in the home and cannot disclose if there are neighborhood nuisances, or if the downstairs bathroom floods every years.  So it is more buyer beware – however – once a buyers offer is accepted, they will have their contingency time frames (stated in the offer) to conduct any and all inspections they want and to make sure the home appraisals for their loan.

Sounds like any offer right?  Right.  Bank Owned homes are like normal sellers.  The turn around time for an offer response in a couple of days – a week max.  Meaning, when the buyer get’s the offer accepted phone call – the clock starts ticking for contingencies and in 30 days I hand them the keys 🙂

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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:  http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

What does Bank Owned or REO property mean?

A REO stands for Real Estate Owned which really means the home is Bank Owned.  A Bank Owned home is a home post-foreclosure.  Meaning the bank has already foreclosed on the seller and now the bank owns the home.

The Pro’s

Buying a bank owned home is as close to a normal sale as a buyer can get when working with distressed properties.  The pro – quick response time.  When submitting an offer on a bank owned property the buyer can expect to get a response within a week – and once the offer is accepted the escrow period is like any normal transaction.  A buyer is granted their contingency periods that start the day after the offer is accepted.  It’s a breath of fresh air for a buyer since short sales are slow and painful.  Because bank owned homes are smooth transactions for the most part – we do see them move off the market much quicker than the dreaded short sale.

The Con’s

Buying a bank owned home means one thing – no real disclosures.  Sometimes it even means the home is in various forms of neglect.  The bank, having never lived in the home, does not provide the buyer with the disclosures a normal seller would provide.  The two most interesting reads not provided by the bank, aside from inspection reports, are the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and the Seller Supplemental Checklist (SSC).  These two standardized forms ask the seller a myriad of questions covering neighborhood nuisances and issues with the home.   The bank does however need to provide the buyer with the California State Mandatory Disclosures, one of which is the Natural Hazards Report which covers natural hazards around that particular property.

How This Affects the Buyer

Banks require an As-Is sale.  This is typical of many sales.  As-Is means as disclosed.  However, since the bank has no personal knowledge of the home – it is hard to disclose the potential issues.  Since the disclosures are weak, the burden is placed on the buyer to investigate.  As Realtors we cannot attest to the condition of the property or neighborhood – but we do encourage the buyer to seek professional opinions.  Some buyers visit the local police department and ask candid questions, I’ve even had buyers door knock the surrounding homes to speak to their potential neighbors.

As for the condition of the home – that’s the easy part.  As in any buying transaction, the buyer will have contingency periods to do all their inspections at which point we’ll get the home, pest and roof inspector out to check out the home and provide the buyer with a written report.  The buyer can do any inspections they want, from lead to asbestos, to truly anything that is of concern to them and for their plans for the property – pretty much just like any other buying transaction.  The only downfall – if issues arise – often times the bank does no repairs.

How We Go About All This

Since these transaction are so cut and dry, before we sit down to write the offer with our buyers, all parties take a good hard look at the property to determine the buyers offer price.  A buyer does not perform their inspections prior to writing the offer because a home, pest and roof inspection costs upwards of $500.  After the offer is accepted, the buyer will pay for their inspections and we proceed from there.

Generally, the buyer knows what they are getting into.  Often times these homes are in states of neglect and may be missing key fixtures or appliances.  In the end, both the buyer and their Realtor take all of this into account and write their best offer.

For more tips on writing an offer on a bank owned home – stay tuned!

Got Questions?  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

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

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

A Candid Moment with Short Sales

Who knew – two 5-letter words could be so dirty?

SHORT SALES

Those two words can send buyers, sellers, Realtors and Escrow Officers into a tissy.

Why you ask?  The dreaded long process and seemingly endless wait.

Allow me a moment to break down how these two words work.

To a seller, the words Short Sale mean one thing – their home is no longer worth as much as they owe.  Then – say they should need to sell it – now they need to ask the bank to agree and take less than the loan is worth.  Banks don’t like doing this.  They know real estate is cyclical, they can’t go back and redo everyone’s loan just because the value went down.  I digress.  The sad truth, the seller has to jump through many, many, many hoops – in the form of paperwork and documentation etc etc to successfully sell their home.  And that’s if the buyer doesn’t tire of waiting and walk!!!  And should a buyer walk – because sometimes they need to move on – the seller has to start at square one again – and oh what a fun square that is.

To a buyer, the words Short Sale means “sit down and wait”.  Why?  The seller generally can’t start their short sale request until AFTER they accept an offer.  And once the bank receives the offer, it can take months just to get that paperwork in front of a real decision maker, negotiator to be exact.  Since this wait time is long and sometimes a better opportunity presents itself – buyers sometimes tire of the wait and rescind, cancel, their offer.  It happens.  However, because Short Sales can be difficult, their are opportunities for buyers to purchase a property under market value.  Which creates instant equity!  In our experience, the offer you write in November is low compared to the values of comparbale properties by the time you close escrow and own that home in May.  (For more specific market info please email us info@TheCatonTeam.com)

For those in the real estate industry – the words Short Sale mean being on top of your game, having a team of professionals behind you and being diligent.  Which, in essence is what Realtors should do in the first place.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns – we’d love to hear from you – email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

To read my personal journey through homeownership – visit http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/  Enjoy!

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Next Stop – Bank Owned Properties – aka: The REO