A Cinderella Story – Fredric and Heather

When it came time to sell their first home Fredric and Heather called the Realtor who helped them their first go around – Susan Caton. By then, Susan and I (Sabrina) had partnered up and became The Caton Team.  It was an exciting meeting, sitting around the dinning room table planing for the sale of their home and discussing the hopes, dreams and reality of their next home.
In the competitive Bay Area real estate market a buyer needs to be ready to make a fantastic offer the moment a home pops on the market.  If a buyer has to sell their current home – writing an offer contingent on the sale of a home is not as attractive to the seller as a non-contingent offer.  Therefore, we agreed that the best course of action was to sell their current home to be prepared to pounce when their next home came on the market.
This can be a scary moment – where will the family live if we don’t find the next home.  Nonetheless, the hunt for their next home began way before the for sale sign showed up in their front yard.
So Heather and Fredric did a fantastic job getting their home ready for sale.  Before our first open house The Caton Team had wind of interested parties.  Within a week their home was in contract.  Oh my!
So the serious house hunting hits.  We’re out day and night checking out everything on the market, new and old…and we start writing offers.  Good offers, solid offers.  But we keep getting out bid, sometimes by all cash, sometimes just larger down payments or out of the the ballpark offers.  Regardless, the sweat starts beading.  Now we’re talking short term rentals as the close of escrow on their current home slowly approaches….and we are very thankful for the 30-days of rent back we negotiated to give us a little more time.  That was extremely helpful, but not enough.  So, a short term rental was located.  More offers.  Out bid.
Suddenly there is buzz around a certain Silicon Valley IPO.  The weeks leading up caused a mini boom on the peninsula.  Offer dates, multiple offers, no contingencies, all cash – you name it – things were a bit nuts.  Then the dust settled, and as a boom of new listings flooded the market a week old listing was suddenly overlooked.  We wrote an offer.  Out of the blue, another offer comes in.  This house was awesome.  We couldn’t let it get away.  Proud to say our reputation preceded us and the Selling Agents knew we’d get the job done – when it came down the the nitty gritty, we helped our friends and clients prepare a terrific offer package and in the end their offer was accepted.
The phone call to your clients when you get to share the good news that they got the home of their dreams – well, it’s one of the best phone calls around.
Thank you Fredric and Heather for trusting The Caton Team with all your real estate needs.  Here’s to many happy years in your new home.
Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.
Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com
Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/
Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:
Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Tatjana… A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

When Michael and Tatjana reached out to The Caton Team – we were very excited to be their Realtors for their first home purchase.  We got them preapproved with Melanie Flynn of First Priority Financial and hit the ground running.  They were so excited, started checking out properties and sooner than later, we began to write some offers.

With fingers crossed and prayers whispered we waited on pins and needles to hear back on their first offer… they didn’t get it.  The first time you lose a house – it’s the pits.  The second and third time it doesn’t get any easier.  Tatjana and Michael started to lose hope.  Who wouldn’t?

But The Caton Team wouldn’t let them lose out on their dream.  As full time Realtors, we’ve spent countless sleepless nights hoping and praying our client’s dreams come true.  We knew – you have to get back on the horse, try, try again….there are other fish in the sea.

And they did – but they had one request.  They no longer wanted to write a letter to the seller that included their adorable family photo.  In shock, I asked why.  They were adamant – ‘what’s the point?  The seller is looking for the most money and highest offer.’  I smiled.  We could hear the disappointment in their voice.  But we had faith.  We couldn’t change what we were doing.  The offer package The Caton Team prepares for each offer is thorough and it is successful.  Sometimes money talks.  But sometimes, it’s the other items in the offer package that get the recognition.

As we waited to hear back on their offer I was looking at the copy of the photo we sent of their family.  I’ve known Tatjana since the 6th grade and here she was, with her husband and two beautiful sons…  The phone rang, couldn’t get to it fast enough.  It was the seller’s agent.  I could hear the happiness in her hello.  They got the house.  Quickly she interjected – it wasn’t about being the highest price, they weren’t.  It was about the letter and the picture.  (It still brings tears to my eyes.)  Turns out the owner was deceased and had charged her best friend with handling her estate.  Her wish was for her home to be sold to a nice family – not an investor.  She had built that home from the ground up, raised her family there, and she wanted her best friend to pick the sweetest family for her home.  And boy they couldn’t have found a better family.

Sometimes it really isn’t just about the money.

Congratulations to Michael and Tatjana – to many happy years and memories in your new home!

 

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-cityå

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

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Popcorn Ceilings – No Night At The Movies…

Please enjoy my candid journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com where I share my personal stories of being a young homeowner.  My newest blog is about Pop Corn Ceilings… Enjoy!

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

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

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

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Offer Subject to Inspection – What Does That Mean?

As a Realtor I have a whole dictionary for just real estate jargon.  One of the most confusing terms, and often buyers will get the wrong idea about their agent, is “offer subject to inspection.”  So allow me a moment to explain what on earth this means.

“Offer subject to inspection” is a typical hurdle for buyers to overcome when shopping for homes that are tenant occupied.  The term means – the buyer can physically go in and SEE the home AFTER an offer is accepted.  Sounds a little backwards right?

And no – your agent is NOT trying to strong arm you and force you to buy a home without evening seeing it!

Generally this clause is for homes which are tenant occupied.  In order to preserve the rights of the tenant to have the quite enjoyment of their home – the tenant has the right to refuse prospective buyers to come in and see the home.  That is – until an offer is accepted by the seller, then the buyers has the right to inspect the home.

How does this work you ask?  The buyer must write a REAL offer since the terms are binding once accepted.  When the seller accepts the offer, the buyer will have a certain amount of days which is written into the contract to actually go in and see the home for the first time.  If the home is to their liking and the buyer wants to proceed with the contract – they do.  If the home is NOT to the buyers liking – for just about any reason – during the agreed upon days – the buyer will have the right to cancel the deal and walk away without any harm to both buyer and seller.

So you found a home you like – how do you write an offer?  If there are inspections available before hand – it makes our job of writing the offer a bit easier since we have a good idea of what the condition is.  If there are no inspections, and we haven’t seen the home, we drive by and gather as much info as we can with our eyes from the safety of the car.  We write the offer as best we can with the information provided and once the buyer has seen the home and had inspections we proceed with the new information – either by moving forward or discussing the new information with all parties and find a common and suitable outcome for all parties.

As strange as it seems – it happens more than you know.  For some buyers, they cannot imagine writing an offer for a home without ever seeing the home.  For investment buyers, this very typical and generally have no issues writing up a fair offer to get in.  Of course, what happens after a buyer gets to see the home is a far different story.  I have experienced both follow throughs on the contract and recessions – so truly we cross that bridge together when we get to it.

Which is truly at the root of what us Realtors do.  We are the buyers and sellers guides through Real Estate – what can The Caton Team do for you?

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

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UPCOMING CHANGES TO FHA LOANS

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UPCOMING CHANGES TO FHA LOANS

As you may know, unless Congress extends the expiration deadline, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan limits set in 2008 will drop significantly beginning October 1. Congress raised the loan limit amount in response to the housing crisis to help spur the homebuying market. FHA loans offer borrowers very competitive rates and terms, and they only require a 3.5% down payment. Allowable debt ratios are higher than the typical debt-ratio limits imposed for conventional loans, and there are no income limit qualifications, so more people can qualify for them.

If the loan limit drops on October 1, many California homebuyers will face higher down payments, higher mortgage rates and stricter loan qualification requirements. Borrowers seeking larger mortgages will have to apply for conventional loans or jumbo loans, which may be subject to higher interest rates and down payments. Here are four things you should know to help your clients now.

1. LOWER LOAN LIMITS. The conforming loan limit determines the maximum mortgage amount that FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can buy or guarantee. If your client wants to stay under the current loan limits, then encourage them to purchase now and close by September 30th.

2. DROPS BY COUNTY. Under the new FHA loan limits, some counties will see significant drops in their loan limits. San Diego County will experience a $151,250 drop, Sonoma County a $141,550 reduction, while Orange and Los Angeles Counties will drop by $104,250. To see a full, county-by-county list of changes, click here.

3. JUMBO LOANS. The current FHA loan limit is $729,750. After October 1, that limit may drop to $625,500. Mortgage loans higher than that amount will be considered non-conforming jumbo loans, which typically have rates that are 0.875% to 1.5% higher than conforming rates, depending on the loan product, and require higher down payments.

4. MORE STRINGENT REQUIREMENTS. FHA loan requirements may allow for lower credit scores. So an applicant with a lower FICO score can still qualify for an FHA loan, even if they can’t for a conventional loan. Your clients may be able to obtain an FHA loan three years after defaulting or having a loan foreclosed.

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/

Steps To Buying a Home

The Caton Team believes that buying a home is a journey.  We are happy to meet with buyers at any leg of their trek, whether it be a few years out, or we’re ready to buy now – Susan & Sabrina are happy to create a home buying plan with you and your family.  We believe communication is essential and understanding your goals as a home-buyer is they key to success.

Steps to Buying a Home

1.     Our Initial Interview

  • Determine needs, wants & desires for your new home
  • Discuss parameters
  • Discuss financial qualifications

2. Get Pre-Approved for your Home Loan

  • Contact your Financial Institution (Bank, Credit Union, etc) for a pre-approval of a Home Loan
  • Obtain a Pre-Approval letter once you have provided them with all necessary documentation (income verification, taxes, debt)
  • Once you know your purchase power we can help you shop your loan if necessary to find the best loan for your price range with the best interest rate & terms
  • Remember to make sure you have funds saved for your closing costs.*
  • REMEMBER – DO NOT OPEN ANY NEW LINES OF CREDIT OR MAKE LARGE PURCHASES – it will affect your credit score and purchase power!

3. Property Tours

  • We will preview many homes in your criteria
  • We will show you available properties that match your needs & wants
  • Listen carefully to fine-tune your ideal home
  • Provide information about the current market and reliable resources regarding cities, schools to help you with your decision

4. Write an Offer on the Home that fits your needs & wants

  • When possible – we get the Sellers Disclosure package beforehand so you can review the disclosures before we write an offer
  • Writing an offer will take between 1 to 3 hours
  • Complete the purchase agreement contract & review all the necessary disclosures with you
  • Buyer provides the earnest money deposit (this can be in the form of a personal check & will be held until an accepted contract is created – generally 1% – 3% of the purchase price)

5. The Caton Team Presents Your Offer

  • Prepare a presentation by highlighting the strengths of the offer & your strengths as the buyer
  • Present the offer to  the Sellers’ Real Estate Professional & when possible the Sellers
  • The Seller with either accept your offer, counter it, or reject it
Of course, our objective, if it is your objective – is to get your offer accepted on the first try.  If your offer is not accepted or rejected right off the bat – you begin the counter offer process.

6. Counter-Offer

  • Discuss the counter-offer with you and how it relates to your goals and prepare a response
  • Negotiate the counter-offer in your best interest while keeping the Seller happy as well

7.          Escrow

  • When the offer has been accepted & signed by all parties, escrow is opened
  • Earnest money (good faith deposit) will be deposited AND CASHED by the escrow company and held in escrow
  • The Escrow Officer will order the Preliminary Title Report & send copies to the Lender & us – your Realtors

8. Contingency Period

  • Buyers approval of Seller’s Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement
  • Buyers approval of the Preliminary Title Report
  • Buyers approval of any disclosures not provided prior to writing the offer
  • Conduct all desired Physical & Pest Inspections
  • Verify that the Property Appraisal & Loan have been approved & secured
  • Once the buyer is fully satisfied with the home, the buyer, in writing, will remove all their contingencies and is not locked into contract

9. Homeowners’ Insurance Coverage

  • Select an insurance company and discuss coverage (it is best to start with your car insurance company – they often offer umbrella discounts)
  • Give insurance agent escrow information.  They will need to order a copy of the policy for the new Lender prior to escrow closing

10. Signing Documents at the Title Company

  • Lender will send the loan documents directly to the title company several days before close of escrow
  • Buyer will receive copies of the title documents and the Lender documents (Take the time to review your loan documents prior to our signing appointment to make sure all the terms & conditions are what you agreed to – changes to the loan documents must be made before you sign so escrow will close on time)
  • Buyer will need current photo identification

11. Down Payment and Closing Cost Funds

  • You may bring a cashier’s check to the Title Company several days prior to closing or have funds wired directly from you bank
  • The Escrow Officer will provide a Buyer’s Estimated Closing Statement, which will itemize costs and credits, estimating the total money due at closing and also provide wiring instructions if you are doing a wire transfer of your down payment

12. Funding

  • Lenders will send funds directly to escrow the day before closing

13. Close of Escrow

  • The deed will be recorded at the County Recorder’s office by the Title Company (Buyer will receive the original back from the County Recorder in approximately 6 weeks)
  • Real Estate Professional will coordinate the transfer of the house keys after the transfer of sale is on record.

14. Move In!

  •  Get those boxes in the car, pop the bubbly – the house is yours!  Congrats
Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to answer them – email us at info@thecatonteam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/
Visit my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/