5 Traits to Look for in Your Agent – Great Article to Share

The Caton Teams strives for excellence. We are always learning, growing in our efforts to be the best agents we can be. I enjoyed reading this article and would love your feedback. Enjoy!

5 Traits to Look for in Your Agent
By Tara on Trulia

In this internet era, we’ve gotten to a place where we require all of our information in bite-sized, white-and-charcoal grey pieces. But when it comes to creating interpersonal and professional relationships that really work, lists of interview questions and “what to Google” articles can fall short of fully fleshing out the factors that make us mesh with someone.
So let’s go a little deeper. Picking a real estate agent is a business and a relationship challenge – one which has a potentially massive impact on your finances and future enjoyment of the place you and your family live. If you take that seriously, here are a handful of characteristics I recommend you look for as you evaluate prospective agents.

1. Creativity. Some transactions go precisely as planned, clicking right along on schedule. Others – many others – get messy:
• the loan underwriter issues bizzaro, last-minute document demands
• the appraisal comes in low
• the buyer backs out
• you see 50 homes without any winners, or
• the inspection reports reveal issues that make you wonder whether the home is a diamond in the rough or a money pit.
Whether your transaction will be easy-peasy or uber-messy, you cannot know until you’re in it. When you’re agent-hunting, it behooves you to look for someone who has the experience and creative problem-solving skill to help you methodically think through the facts, surface alternatives, propose solutions and engineer obstacle workarounds – just in case the going gets tough.

Problem solving is the core of any business. We’ve had plenty of bumps in the road, but together we get over the humps and bumps and come up with solutions that work for all parties involved.

2. Deep, varied expertise. Buying or selling a home is much more of a lifestyle design experience than it is a financial transaction, truth be told. To do it with results that work well for yourself, your family and your finances for the duration, you need an agent that’s an eager partner with you. One that will deep-dive into all the nooks and crannies of your aesthetics, your psychology, your life plans, your financials and even your relationship dynamics.
You also need an agent with deep – not surface – understanding of homes, neighborhoods and local real estate market metrics, practices and contracts, and someone who deeply *gets* the home buying or selling process itself – so they can brief you on it and fruitfully coach you through it.
Have you ever taken a class from a novice teacher vs. a class from an experienced professor? The difference is nuance: a deep, mature understanding of a complex subject allows the more experienced instructor to give you insights into patterns they’ve spotted over time and repeat transactions. Same goes for your real estate pro: you want to make sure that either your agent or someone that will be working with them on your transaction (like their manager or broker) has deep knowledge and understanding in most or all of these areas, so they can share the nuanced insights and patterns they have spotted in the past which you can harness to your advantage in the present.

With Susan in the business for over 15 years and myself hitting the 10 year mark – we’ve have a wide range of experience. From embarking on home addition, to DIY remodeling, to buying your first home and your last. Each moment is a teaching opportunity.

3. Calm resilience. When you lose out on a home to other offers, it can feel like the end of the world. When you list your home, stage it to the nines, and not a single offer is forthcoming, feelings of discouragement, frustration and even depression can easily arise. In both cases, it’s easy to delve into fear (fear that you’ll never get the home you need, or will never be able to move on to the next stage of your life) or paralysis (freezing up because you just don’t know what to do – period).
A great agent – and there are thousands and thousands out there – can bring a massive, game-changing dose of calm resilience to the table. They’ve been through this before. They know that there are lots of homes and lots of buyers out there, so losing out on any one is not a death knell to your dreams. They also know how to tell the difference between a normal delay in receiving an offer or an acceptance on your market and when your approach requires some serious course correction (see #4, below).
A great agent will be able to receive the news that you’ve lost out on a home or take in negative feedback from a prospective buyer, call you and deliver it calmly and right along with some smart, constructive suggestions for action items you should work on next, to keep the process moving forward.

Being patient and calm is what it takes in Real Estate. We’ve had a share of surprises and a level head always prevails. It’s our job to weather the storm, buffer the waves and get you to your port safely.
In this competitive San Francisco Peninsula market – we’ve had to make our share of some disappointing phone calls. However, looking back – each sad call was eventually followed by a fantastic happy call. So much so – Susan and I believe in never giving up – because we when it’s meant to be – it will be. Add some professional insight, write strong offers and keep your options open and we’ll definitely be handing over the keys to your new home soon.

4. Frankness and optimism. You want – no – you need your agent to be frankly honest. You need them to be frankly honest with themselves and with you about all facets of the reality you’ll face as you proceed through your transaction. Sellers, you cannot afford to have an agent who will let you persist in fantasy-land beliefs about what your home is worth – contrary to all evidence as to what homes in your area are actually selling for and feedback (read: silence) from prospective buyers who have seen your home – without challenging you to look at the data and adjust your pricing strategy. Buyers, by the same token, you can’t afford to work with an agent who encourages or allows you to make 5, 10, or 15 lowball offers on a home without urging you to face the truth that you need to house hunt at lower price points or make higher offers in order to be successful.
You need an agent who is willing to tell you the truth and have these sorts of hard conversations with you even when you won’t like it.
That said, you want an agent who possesses both this frank integrity and an ultimate optimism that, with right thinking and strategic action, you can and will ultimately succeed at making a great buy or sale.

Tara nailed it with this one. I am very honest. I am rather blunt sometimes, I do not beat around the bush. Real Estate is serious business, some of the largest decisions and purchases in one persons life. I need to be frank with you and you need to be open with me. Honest communication is a huge part of any relationship and in real estate – it is one of The Caton Teams core values. Work with an agent you feel comfortable talking to. We’ll be talking a lot!

5. Bandwidth. This one might sound strange, but the fact is that it can be difficult to get the advantages of having the best agent in the world if the agent is wildly over-subscribed and so busy they struggle to respond to calls and emails. This is why I don’t always say a great agent will necessarily have years and years of expertise. Some agents who have wonderful experience and wisdom are simply too busy to do the time-intensive guidance your situation may require. And some agents who are new to real estate bring highly relevant expertise and skills they’ve developed in other careers, have ample time to devote to your transaction and can enlist the real estate-specific insights of an experienced team leader, manager or broker.
If you know you’re going to want to meet up weekly for a house hunting session or debrief with your agent, tell them this up front and ask them flat-out how much time they can devote to your process. Make sure you’re comfortable with their response or solution (example – their listing specialist or partner can meet with you when they can’t) before you make your pick.
My advice for agent-finding is to engage in a multi-step process:
• First, make sure you get referrals from your friends, colleagues and relatives to the agents they have worked with and love.
• Also get a few names from our Agent Finder on Trulia, which allows you to get incredibly specific about what sort of homes, areas and transactions your ideal agent will have worked with.
• Then, check all of your prospective agent candidates out online. Narrow them down a bit by what you see in terms of reviews and style of advice you see them providing on channels like their blog, website or social media pages.
• Reach out to all the people on your short list through whatever medium you prefer to communicate – phone, email, etc. – and note how quickly you get responses.
• Then book appointments to meet with a handful of agents and let them present their method to you.
• Get references and check in with those past clients – ask them to tell you about their transaction experience, warts and all.
By the end of this process, you’ll likely find someone who fits just-right with your own personality, timing and transactional needs and possess these five traits.

I truly enjoyed reading this and hope you did too!

I read this article at: http://corp.truliablog.com/2014/01/09/5-traits-to-look-for-in-your-agent/?ecampaign=cnews201401B&eurl=corp.truliablog.com%2F2014%2F01%2F09%2F5-traits-to-look-for-in-your-agent%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
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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

Flood Insurance Update…

Flood Insurance Update
The Senate plans to vote on legislation that would create a 4-year “time out” for both impacted home buyers and future increases on “grandfathered” properties. The Senate Majority Leader has promised the sponsors a vote on S. 1846 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act which would delay any increases for 4 years; they are currently negotiating the number of amendments and amount of debate time.  The bill is expected to come up the week of January 27 if not sooner, and will require 60 votes to move forward.  NAR issued a call for action and is urging every senator to vote yes.

2014 – What will the Real Estate Market be like?

It’s on my mind – maybe it’s on your mind – but I enjoyed this article about the 2014 market forecast. Enjoy!

The housing recovery hit high gear in 2013 with bigger than expected price gains and solid home sales. This year isn’t likely to be as exciting. Rising mortgage interest rates will price out some potential buyers. Instead of double-digit price gains, look for single-digit ones, economists say, while existing home sales remain at last year’s level.
Sound boring? “You want boring in the housing market,” says Svenja Gudell, Zillow director of economic research.
Here’s what’s ahead for:
• Home prices. They were the highlight of the 2013 housing market, up 12.5% in October year over year, CoreLogic says. Prices are now 20% off their 2006 peaks after falling more than 30%, shows the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index.
Economist John Burns looks for a 6% gain in 2014. Many others see smaller increases ahead. Zillow forecasts just a 3% rise.
Prices will likely rise more slowly as more homes come on the market, fewer investors bid for homes and higher ownership costs — including interest rates and home prices — take a bite out of housing affordability, housing experts say.
Still, U.S. housing remains 4% undervalued when compared with other economic fundamentals, such as consumer incomes and the cost to rent, says Jed Kolko, Trulia economist. At their 2006 peak, home prices were 39% overvalued based on the same metrics, Kolko says.
•Existing home sales. They’ve started to slow. In November, they were down year over year for the first time in 29 months, National Association of Realtor data show.
The dip was driven by higher interest rates and a tight supply of homes for sale. It doesn’t mean the housing recovery has come off the rails, because home prices and housing starts continue to improve, says Capital Economics economist Paul Ashworth.
Existing home sales, which came in at a 4.9 million seasonally adjusted pace in November, are expected to be about 10% higher in 2013 than 2012 and stay about the same at 5.1 million in 2014, NAR forecasts. That’s roughly back to 2007 levels but below the inflated levels preceding the housing crash.
New-home sales, which make up a smaller part of the market, have more room to grow. They hit an annual pace of 464,000 in November, up almost 17% from a year ago but still below the 700,000-a-year pace generally considered healthy.
The new year will be different for home buyers, though.
Look for fewer bidding wars and a less frantic market, says Glenn Kelman, CEO of brokerage Redfin. Its data show bidding wars recently falling to one of two offers handled by Redfin agents, down from three of four at the peak in March.
Homes are taking longer to sell, and more sellers are also reducing prices to win sales, Kelman says. At the same time, the supply of existing homes for sale edged up to 5.1 months from 4.9 months in October, NAR says. That’s still below the six-month supply that Realtors generally consider to be a balanced market for buyers and sellers.
Supply should get closer to that level in 2014, Kelman says.
Donaee and Jeff Reeve hope he’s right. The couple sold their Seattle-area home in just 10 days amid a hot June market. They’ve been renting as they search for a new home with a few acres. Meanwhile, prices have risen. The lack of suitable homes for sale is “discouraging,” says Donaee Reeve, 36, a dental hygienist.
• Housing construction. This part of the housing recovery has been a laggard.
November’s data showed an improvement, with housing starts topping 1 million on an annual basis, the Commerce Department says. That was up almost 30% from a year earlier, but it’s still far below the norm. Starts averaged 1.5 million a year before the mid-2000s housing boom.
Construction won’t return to normal this year, but it will strengthen enough to be the main driver of the housing recovery as home price gains shrink, says investment manager Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
It sees housing starts increasing 20% a year for the next several years as household formation picks up with the strengthening economy.
More home construction means more jobs for construction workers, plumbers, civil engineers and others in the building trades, as well as related industries such as furniture manufacturing, it says.
Construction alone will add 300,000 to 500,000 jobs a year to the nation’s job base for the next three years, GSAM predicts. That’s up from about 100,000 in 2013.
“The construction revival is primarily a matter of when, not if,” says Tom Teles, GSAM head of securitized and government investments.
• Mortgage rates. Sarah and Andrew Katz know home prices are going up, and mortgage interest rates, too. But they’re still convinced it’s a good time to buy a first home. They’ve set their sights on spring.
“We’re banking on interest rates staying under 5%, but they are what they are,” says Sarah, 29, who works in public relations in Manhattan.

We’re banking on interest rates staying under 5%,

— Sarah Katz
The couple better not wait too long, economists warn.
Average rates for a fixed 30-year mortgage will rise to 5.5% by the end of 2014, says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. Rates have already risen about 1 percentage point in the past year as the economy has strengthened. They’ll be pushed up further as the Federal Reserve winds down its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program.
Each percentage point increase in mortgage rates makes homes about 10% more expensive in terms of higher housing payments.
Another factor could weigh on borrowers. Starting in January, lenders must make home loans that meet new federal qualified mortgage standards or face greater liability from borrower lawsuits, should the loans go sour.
At least 5% of mortgages extended in 2013 wouldn’t meet the new standard, Yun says. More than that will likely face additional scrutiny from lenders as they implement all parts of the new rule, says Brian Koss, executive vice president of lender Mortgage Network.
He says the higher rates and tighter rules will likely drive some home buyers out of the market or into lower-priced homes than they could have afforded last year.
“People have gotten spoiled,” Koss says. Higher rates and home prices will test the strength of the housing recovery in 2014, he says.

I read this article at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/01/home-prices-2014-housing-starts/4181021/#!

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
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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

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

1. Decide what you can do yourself

TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house.

*  Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.

*  Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?

2. Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer

*  Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.

If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.

Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.

3. Check permit costs

Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it’ll cause problems when you resell your home.

Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.

Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.

4. Doublecheck pricing on structural work

If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems. 

Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.  Don’t purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:

You’re getting it at a steep discount

You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem

You know the problem can be fixed

You have a binding written estimate for the repairs

5. Check the cost of financing

Be sure you have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings. 

If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:

*  Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.

*  Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.

*  Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help homeowners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).

6. Calculate your fair purchase offer

Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.

For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement. 

Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently re-carpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.

The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.

Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair.

7. Include inspection contingencies in your offer

Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:

*  Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.

*  Radon, mold, lead-based paint

*  Septic and well

*  Pest

Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with. 

If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.

My words to the wise – if you get outbid – don’t fret – start again.  Each home you take the time to break down and understand the cost of repair – the better prepared you will be when the next opportunity arises.

We bought a condo as our first purchase – and though you mainly own just the paint in – we budgeted $10,000 in repairs only to spend $17,000 in the end.  Hind sight is always 20/20 – but now when we buy our next home, we’ll have the experience under out belt and a better picture of a budget and our limitations. 

By: G. M. Filisko

I read this article at:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/how-assess-real-cost-fixer-upper-house/preview/

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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

Keep Your Home Purchase on Track

Keep Your Home Purchase on Track

I love finding great articles to share – I’ve added my 2 cents in itatlics – enjoy – Sabrina

You’ve found your dream home. Make sure missteps don’t prevent a successful closing.

1. Be truthful on your mortgage application

You may think fudging your income a little or omitting debts when applying for a mortgage will go unnoticed. Not true. Lenders have become more diligent in verifying information on mortgage applications. If you fib, expect to be found out and denied the loan you need to fund your home purchase. Plus, intentionally lying on a mortgage application is a crime.

You might get away with your fib when you apply for your loan, but once you find a home and have an accepted offer.  Your lenders underwriter will comb through every bit of your financial life.  One fib will open a huge can of worms and you could find yourself in hot water.  Because not only have you harmed your chances at getting a loan – you’ve held up a seller who is working in good faith with you and has pulled their home off market waiting for you to remove your contingencies and close escrow.  DON’T LIE!

2. Hold off on big purchases

Lenders double-check buyers’ credit right before the closing to be sure their financial condition hasn’t weakened. If you’ve opened new credit cards, significantly increased the balance on existing cards, taken out new loans, or depleted your savings, your credit score may have dropped enough to make your lender change its mind on funding your home loan. 

Although it’s tempting to purchase new furniture and other items for your new home, or even a new car, wait until after the closing.

The only thing you should be doing is saving your pennies until you close escrow on your new home.  People of lost their dream home because they spent money before closing.  Not my clients though – I remind them constantly about the big picture!

3. Keep your job

The lender may refuse to fund your loan if you quit or change jobs before you close the purchase. The time to take either step is after a home closing, not before.

Amen – well said!

4. Meet contingencies

If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If you’re required to secure financing, promptly provide all the information the lender requires. If you must deposit additional funds into escrow, don’t stall. If you have 10 days to get a home inspection, call the inspector immediately.

There is a clause IN the Real Estate Purchase Contract (in California) that states – Time is of The Essence!  We are not kidding.  Time is contractual – do what you said you would do.  Your mother will be proud! 

5. Consider deadlines immovable

Get your funds together a week or so before the closing, so you don’t have to ask for a delay. If you’ll need to bring a certified check to closing, get it from the bank the day before, not the day of, your closing. Treat deadlines as sacrosanct.

We take each deadline deadly serious.  Could there be delays?  Yes of course, so much of the real estate purchase process is beyond your Realtors control – so make sure you’re doing what you should be doing when you should be doing it – it will streamline an already difficult transaction. 

By: G. M. Filisko

Got questions – I am here to help – call or click – info@theCatonteam.com

I read this article at: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/keep-your-home-purchase-track/preview/

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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

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

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

Negotiate Your Best House Buy

Negotiate Your Best House Buy

I love to share articles I find interesting – I’ve added my 2 cents in italics…

Keep your emotions in check and your eyes on the goal, and you’ll pay less when purchasing a home.

Here are six tips for negotiating the best price on a home.

1. Get prequalified for a mortgage

Getting prequalified for a mortgage proves to sellers that you’re serious about buying and capable of affording their home. That will push you to the head of the pack when sellers choose among offers; they’ll go with buyers who are a sure financial bet, not those whose financing could flop.

This is so much the first step towards home ownership – any Realtor worth their salt won’t even take a buyer out until they are pre-approved and understand their budget and constraints.  In the San Francisco Bay Area – don’t bother writing an offer until you have a pre-approval in hand – or proof of cash.

2. Ask questions

Ask your agent for information to help you understand the sellers’ financial position and motivation. Are they facing foreclosure or a short sale? Have they already purchased a home or relocated, which may make them eager to accept a lower price to avoid paying two mortgages? Has the home been on the market for a long time, or was it just listed? Have there been other offers? If so, why did they fall through? The more signs that sellers are eager to sell, the lower your offer can reasonably go.

The Caton Team also finds out the big picture so we can tailor each offer for the best fit.  When faced against multiple offers – information is key and structuring your offer is imperative. 

3. Work back from a final price to determine your initial offer

Know in advance the most you’re willing to pay, and with your agent work back from that number to determine your initial offer, which can set the tone for the entire negotiation. A too-low bid may offend sellers emotionally invested in the sales price; a too-high bid may lead you to spend more than necessary to close the sale. 

Work with your agent to evaluate the sellers’ motivation and comparable home sales to arrive at an initial offer that engages the sellers yet keeps money in your wallet.

The Caton Team will provide a buyer with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) when we sit down to write the offer.  We take into account the current state of the market, what homes have sold for in the recent past, what they are going for now, and the amount of competition for each home.  Try to maintain an open mind when writing your offer. 

4. Avoid contingencies

Sellers favor offers that leave little to chance. Keep your bid free of complicated contingencies, such as making the purchase conditional on the sale of your current home. Do keep contingencies for mortgage approval, home inspection, and environmental checks typical in your area, like radon.

Contingencies are what protect the buyer.  Talk closely with your Realtor on which contingencies should stay in and which you can omit to improve your offer.  Each client and offer is different.  That’s why it is so important to work with a Realtor you trust. 

5. Remain unemotional

Buying a home is a business transaction, and treating it that way helps you save money. Consider any movement by the sellers, however slight, a sign of interest, and keep negotiating. 

Each time you make a concession, ask for one in return. If the sellers ask you to boost your price, ask them to contribute to closing costs or pay for a home warranty. If sellers won’t budge, make it clear you’re willing to walk away; they may get nervous and accept your offer.

This strategy works great when you are the ONLY offer.  So much time is wasted by buyers who think they hold the reigns in negotiations.  In the San Francisco Bay Area we have low inventory right now and high demand.  Setting the stage for a Sellers Market. Each listing will entertain multiple offers.  So it is best to write your best offer up front because chances are you will NOT get a counter offer or the chance to change your offer once submitted.  It is imperative you work closely with a Realtor you trust.  Each offer opportunity is unique and will require a new strategy. 

6. Don’t let competition change your plan

Great homes and those competitively priced can draw multiple offers in any market. Don’t let competition propel you to go beyond your predetermined price or agree to concessions—such as waiving an inspection—that aren’t in your best interest.

Great advice.  The Caton Team will not push our clients to do anything they are not comfortable with.  I would rather change our purchasing strategy and shop in a different market or price point than overextend our clients reach just because the housing market is competitive.

Buyers must be aware that they cannot control the market or the volume of competition.  All a buyer can do is educate themselves on the market, understand their budget and their max and shop within their parameters.  Nobody said it would be easy – but The Caton Team does strive for a smooth overall experience. 

By: G. M. Filisko

I read this article at:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/negotiate-best-house-buy/preview/

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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

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

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

5 Inspection Problems Buyers Shouldn’t Ignore

I enjoy posting my own artciles and sharing others.  This one from the Real Estate Daily News is very share-worthy – enjoy – Sabrina

5 Inspection Problems Buyers Shouldn’t Ignore

Home buyers need to be extra vigilant about inspections in the early stages of a purchase because if problems are discovered too late in the process, it can “dash home owners’ dreams and budgets,” writes Yahoo! Finance in a recent article.

One home buyer in Long Island, N.Y., explains in the story that she didn’t discover the fixer-upper she bought needed $225,000 in repairs until after she purchased it.

Jonathan and Drew Scott, who educate viewers about transforming fixer-uppers on HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” offers up a checklist of five things buyers should look for to ensure they don’t buy a lemon.

  • Mold: Buyers should note any musty smells in the home and be on the lookout for any mold. Mold can be caused by improper air circulation as well as water leaks.
  • Pests: Termite damage can be widespread and costly to repair.
  • Outdated fixtures and wiring: Electrical problems in a home can cause fire hazards. Buyers should take note of any indication of faulty wiring, such as cable coming out of drywall.
  • Poor DIY jobs: Buyers should make sure that the previous home owner’s do-it-yourself projects were done correctly and are up to code. For example, poorly done flooring and painted-over wallpaper can be time-consuming and costly to fix.
  • Drainage problems: Sloping sod can cause flooding problems in a backyard, and a slow-draining sink could be an indication of a bigger problem. Buyers should test sinks and flush toilets to test for any potential problems.

Source: “Property Brothers: Don’t Buy a House Without Checking These 5 Things,” Yahoo! Finance (Aug. 19, 2013)

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/08/22/5-inspection-problems-buyers-shouldn-t-ignore?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BSFlH2B80sQKxz&om_ntype=RMODaily

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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

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

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

FHA Trims Waiting Period for Borrowers Who Experienced Foreclosure

Great news for those who experienced hardships during the economic downturn!

FHA Trims Waiting Period for Borrowers Who Experienced Foreclosure

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is allowing borrowers who went through a bankruptcy, foreclosure, deed-in-lieu, or short sale to reenter the market in as little as 12 months, according to a mortgage letter released Friday.

Borrowers who experienced a foreclosure must wait at least three years before getting a chance to get approved for an FHA loan, but with the new guideline, certain borrowers who lost their home as a result of an economic hardship may be considered even earlier.

For borrowers who went through a recession-related financial event, FHA stated it realizes “their credit histories may not fully reflect their true ability or propensity to repay a mortgage.”

In order to be eligible for the more lenient approval process, provided documents must show “certain credit impairments” were from loss of employment or loss of income that was beyond the borrower’s control. The lender also needs to verify the income loss was at least 20 percent for a period lasting for at least six months.

Additionally, borrowers must demonstrate they have fully recovered from the event that caused the hardship and complete housing counseling.

According to the letter, recovery from an economic event involves reestablishing “satisfactory credit” for at least 12 months. Criteria for satisfactory credit include 12 months of good payment history on payments such as a mortgage, rent, or credit account.

The new guidance is for case numbers assigned on or after August 15, 2013, and is effective through September 30, 2016.

I read this article at: http://www.dsnews.com/articles/fha-trims-waiting-period-for-borrows-who-experienced-foreclosure-2013-08-19

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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

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

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

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Two Condos

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Two Condos

With 25+ years of combined Real Estate experience, The Caton Team is blessed with working with our clients one home after the other.

When Michael bought his first condo with Susan years ago – it was only natural for him to call her again now that he was ready to buy his next home.  By now Susan & I had teamed up and I had the joy of working with Michael as well.

Such a professional and patient gentlemen, we started our journey early in 2013.  Faced with limited inventory and competition we took our time to find choice properties and enjoyed finding the right condo complexes that would fit his lifestyle.

Finally on a sunny Tuesday we found a great 2-bedroom 2-bath condo in San Mateo.  It was a short sale but we were up for the task.  Offer in, up against three other offers – we were so happy to let him know his offer was accepted.

Then the wait begins.  For a short sale, the seller has a long to-do list.  Great clients do what they need to do to get a short sale approved.  Other types of people brush their responsibility off.   We knew short sales take time to get approved.  We knew short sales are a LOT of work. Each week we checked in with the seller’s agent and received short and useless updates.  We grew suspicious and Susan hit the Internet to do some investigating.  Much to our surprise, the unit was set for foreclosure auction the following day!  Quickly The Caton Team reached out to the seller’s agent to implore the urgency of a true update.  Sadly, not all Realtors are created equal and this particular agent brushed us off again.  We did all we could do as the buyer’s Realtor and the following day, with baited breath, we watched the auction site to see if it would be postponed.  Right before our eyes the unit was sold at auction.  When we called the sellers agent to get a handle on this situation – she kindly hung up the phone.

Without missing a beat Susan called Michael and we hit the ground running looking for a new home.  It didn’t take long, another unit, very similar to the one we just lost, was for sale – but they were taking offers the following day!

Michael is a trooper; he met Susan at the home the next morning, saw it, wrote the offer and submitted by the deadline.  By that evening we had the joy of telling him is offer was accepted!  Within less than 24 hours we went from bad news to fantastic news.

It ain’t over till it’s over though – that is a fact.  As the escrow proceeded we had a hiccup – the unit did not appraise for our offer price….which was less than the last sale of an identical unit.   When interest rates went up – the market had turned from a sellers market early in the year to a different market in a matter of weeks.  The appraiser was cautious – and we can’t blame him for being prudent.  No one wants another bust!  Thankfully both the listing agent and the sellers understood the situation and we were able to re-negotiate a win/win deal that evening.

The best feeling in the world is handing over the keys.  Though it was a long and bumpy ride, The Caton Team was able to get our client a better home and in the end Michael is happy – and that makes everything worthwhile.

How can The Caton Team help you?

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call The Caton Team at 650-568-5522

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

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

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

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

I had to share this article – with our Fall Real Estate Market starting now – it’s a good time to think about your budget if you are planning on becoming a home owner!  I find so many buyers thinking about the house they want before they consider the impact of home ownership on their day to day finances.  Taking time now, before you house shop, to put your financial house in order – will help your chances in this competitive market today!  Enjoy – Sabrina

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.

1. The general rule of mortgage affordability

As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeownership, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.

2. Factor in your downpayment

How much money do you have for a downpayment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home’s cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

3. Consider your overall debt

Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn’t total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 41% of your gross annual income.

Here’s how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don’t top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.

4. Use your rent as a mortgage guide

The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment—including taxes and insurance—of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

Here’s an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership. 

However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calcuation instead.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

By: G. M. Filisko

I read this article at:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/4-tips-determine-how-much-mortgage-you-can-afford/preview/

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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/

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

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