The Importance of Working with a Good Lender

The Importance of Working with a Good Lender – by Sabrina

Buying a home is serious business; especially on the San Francisco Peninsula where even a one bedroom condo can run about half a million bucks.

And in an industry where time is money and money talks, from time to time I will encounter a lender – that offers great rates and low fees – upfront.  And no customer service when you really need it.

Much too often a buyer is tempted to get the best rate – without really considering the whole picture.

Unless you are paying cash – the home loan is the most important aspect of buying a home – aside from the home itself.

So when taking into account that a home is generally the largest purchase of a person’s life – shouldn’t we work with a bank that treats it with the same respect?  YES!

There are hundreds of steps from finding the home to getting the keys.  The loan is probably the largest hurdle aside from home inspections.

Once a buyer’s contract is accepted by the seller – it’s rush time.  Most offers have a time frame – called a contingency period – to have the bank do their appraisal and have the loan/purchase terms reviewed and approved by underwriting.  It can be as long as 17 days in a buyers market – or as short as 5 days in a sellers market.  And this is where we separate the men from the boys.  Some of these out of state or on-line lenders are not located here – where one is buying – and it can be extremely difficult to get information and approvals done when they close shop at 5pm and it’s only 2pm here!

That friendly voice that quoted a buyer a fantastic rate isn’t calling us back anymore…..and when they do it’s often not what we were hoping to hear.  For example, they need more time to review the file – therefore we need to push back the close of escrow date – which seems easy – but again – time is money.   The seller is expecting the buyer to perform to the terms of the contract and it’s not worth losing a home due to a lackluster lender…..and changing lenders mid way is generally not an option.

So – what can a buyer do to be competitive?  Work with a local lender.  Once your credit is pulled the first time – a consumer has 30 days to loan shop without hurting their credit score.  So do it!  Loan shop the whole month and find the best rate, the best fees and make sure the lender is attentive, local and can move at the pace the current market is dictating.

The Caton Team has a list of Client Approved Lenders – so please reach out to us and we’ll introduce you to the team.

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  What can we do for you?

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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

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

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabrina/

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

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through home ownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

1st-Time Buyers Losing to Investors – tell me something I don’t know….

If you are a home buyer in todays real estate market on the SF Peninsula – then you already know!  Cash buyers have come out in force and it feels like they are scooping up every house on the market.

Below is an article I read in the SF Chronicle.  It hit home hard.  The Caton Team has been writing offers, sometimes multiple offers for one client on several properties praying one will be accepted.  This market is nuts.  And before I hear anyone say – you must love it!  NO!  Realtors do not like this type of market.  We are human.  We may perform some superhuman stunts from time to time –  but we are human.  Realtors like stable markets with consistent growth.  Not manic markets – with ” one open house and offers are due on Monday” – markets.  If I am feeling the rush – I know my clients are – and for them – this is a new experience.  For the Caton Team – with over 25 years combined experience, this is just another day on the job.

So as you venture and read this article – I must add my two cents.  DO NOT GIVE UP!  Giving up and not getting an offer accepted has the same results – not keys to your new home.  But dusting yourself off and getting back on the horse to meet your Realtor at lunch to see the next new listing – now that’s tackling this market like a pro!  In our experience, buyers who are dedicated to becoming owners will get a house.  It may not be the house they dreamt about.  It may not have all the bedrooms they wanted or the yard they liked – but you can make all those things happen – once you get your house.  Curious what the Caton Team does differently for our clients – come on and and let’s talk!  Questions – email me at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Enjoy!

1st-time buyers losing to investors

Many outbid by absentee owners in a rapidly rising market

By  Carolyn Said 

Hunter Mack and Nyree Bekarian are eager to buy a home for their growing family. They started looking when their son Emmett was a year old. Now he’s 2 1/2, and they have a second child due any day. And they’re still looking.

After seven years of marriage, Carlos and Robin Mariona felt the time was right to buy their own place and looked forward to leveraging his past Navy service with a Veterans Affairs loan. But their search stretched on for months, despite the loan guarantee. While their price ranges and target areas varied, these Bay Area families confronted the same reality once they started house hunting. They were consistently outbid, often by investors who paid all cash. Sometimes, even if they had the highest bid – especially in the case of the Mariona family and their VA loan – they were still rejected in favor of an all-cash offer.

“We’re people who want to commit to a place where we can live and grow together, but it hasn’t been possible,” said Mack, who teaches mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. “We’re two mid-30s professionals who want to spend over half a million dollars on a home, but we can’t find anything, which is ridiculous. We’ve probably made 10 offers. At this point, with many homes, we’re not making offers anymore because we know we’ll be slaughtered.”

Eager to get their piece of the American dream while interest rates are low, many first-time home buyers instead are finding that they’re priced out of a rapidly rising market where they must compete with deep-pocketed investors.

Absentee home buyers now account for about 27 percent of Bay Area home sales, according to real estate research firm DataQuick. All-cash buyers (who overlap with absentee buyers) represent almost a third of sales. Historically, cash buyers were about 13 percent of sales.

First-time home buyers bought 36 percent of California homes sold in 2012, according to the California Association of Realtors. In 2009 and 2010 they represented 47 percent and 44 percent of the market, respectively. Over the past eight years, first-time buyers averaged 39 percent of the market.

Government-backed Federal Housing Administration loans, which are popular with first-time buyers because they allow for smaller down payments, accounted for 12.3 percent of Bay Area home purchases in March, according to research firm DataQuick. That was down from 20.9 percent in March 2012.

“In recent months the FHA level (in the Bay Area) has been the lowest since summer 2008, reflecting both tougher qualifying standards and the difficulties first-time buyers have competing with investors and other cash buyers,” DataQuick said in a statement.

Neighborhood impact

The strong investor presence brings up questions about the long-term impact on neighborhoods.

“I think it’s a shame that all these properties are going to investors and not to people who actually want to live there and be part of the community,” said Rachel Beth Egenhoefer, who along with Kyle Jennings set out to find a new home before their baby was born. She’s now 5 months old, and they’re still looking. “It’s easy for sellers to take the cash and run, but what about having people who actually care about the neighborhood and want to be there and invest in it?”

Maria Benjamin, executive director of the Community Housing Development Corp. of North Richmond, had similar thoughts. The preponderance of investor buyers, most of whom rent out homes, “creates a lot of absentee landlords and a high turnover in neighborhoods,” she said. “All that causes neighborhood instability.”

Then there’s the impact on the families that spend months looking for a home to buy while staying put – in sometimes less than ideal conditions.

Many prospective buyers “are being forced to just stay where they are renting and make do,” said Jennifer Ames, an agent with Red Oak Realty. “Most of my buyers are young families who have outgrown their spaces. They’re all just hanging in, trying to do the best they can with their circumstances.”

People seeking starter homes do have some things working in their favor. Besides the historically low interest rates, home prices in many areas are still far from their peaks. The Bay Area March median of $436,000, for instance, is about a third lower than the region’s $665,000 peak in summer 2007, DataQuick said.

Still, that window of affordability seems to be closing. The California Association of Realtors on Friday said the state’s “affordability index” (the percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced existing single family home in the state) dropped to 44 percent in the first quarter, down from 56 percent a year earlier.

“Higher home prices put a dent in California’s housing affordability,” the Realtors association said in a statement.

Location counts

The three couples seeking homes all have solid employment and can afford to spend from about $350,000 to $550,000 – typical prices for starter homes in this region. All are looking in the East Bay, which is more affordable than San Francisco and the Peninsula. Alameda County’s current median is $416,000; Contra Costa County’s is $346,000.

Still, prices continue to rise rapidly in most of the region, making the search more difficult. “The bottom line in the decent neighborhoods keeps getting raised,” said Patrick Leaper, an agent with Red Oak Realty. “Entry-level buyers are looking at prices going up 2 or 3 percent a month sometimes. That’s critical for somebody whose finances are (tight). They end up being priced out of the market or forced to go to areas or neighborhoods that they weren’t interested in before.”

Looking around

Sometimes expanding the geographic search is what it takes to land a house. That was the case for the Marionas, who started off looking around Albany, where Robin Mariona works for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“For the amount of money we could spend, in Albany or North Berkeley we would have gotten a smaller place than our rental,” said Carlos Mariona, an IT director for a catering company. “We were at the cusp where everyone was moving a little more north as they got priced out – El Cerrito, then San Pablo, Richmond, El Sobrante. It seemed you had more bang for the buck there.”

After more than six months of house hunting and countless rejected offers, they found a house in the Richmond View area near Wildcat Canyon Park listed at $324,000. They offered $350,000, and Leaper, their agent, negotiated with the seller to accommodate their VA loan’s tight requirements of completing all termite work before the sale closed.

“We’re very happy,” Carlos Mariona said.

More-affordable areas

Despite rapidly rising prices, more-affordable pockets remain scattered around the Bay Area. For each county, here’s the town with the lowest median price in the first quarter of this year – and how much it’s changed since the same time last year.

County City Median price Q1 2013 YOY change
Alameda Oakland $310,000 48%
Contra Costa Bay Point $153,000 4%
Marin Novato $565,000 39%
Napa American Canyon $360,000 19%
San Francisco Ingleside Heights (S.F.) $410,250 58%
San Mateo East Palo Alto $356,000 27%
Santa Clara East Valley (San Jose) $377,500 28%
Solano Vallejo $175,500 28%
Sonoma Forestville $261,450 -3%

Source: ZipRealty

Read more: http://www.sfchronicle.com/realestate/article/1st-time-buyers-losing-to-investors-4512891.php#ixzz2TJ56qE00

I read this article at:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/realestate/article/1st-time-buyers-losing-to-investors-4512891.php

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sound Off: What are the biggest mistakes the buyers make? – Great Article from SF Gate

I enjoy reposting articles I find so I don’t sound like I’m shouting from my soap box all day long.  This artcile, in the Sunday Real Estate section was a great read – please enjoy and if you have any questions – ask me – Info@TheCatonTeam.com or call at 650-568-5522

Q: What are the biggest mistakes buyers make?

A: In this fast-paced market, it is still important for buyers to remember the fundamentals of purchasing a home. The items listed below will always be relevant, and they are important issues for buyers to be aware of, and try to avoid:

1. Failing to read documents they receive from their lender and their agent. Buyers receive a lot of information after escrow is opened, which can be overwhelming. But it is imperative that these reports, ranging from disclosures from the seller, to preliminary title reports from the escrow company, to all the various inspection reports completed, be carefully reviewed by the buyer, and they should be encouraged to ask questions. Call on your escrow officer, inspectors, real estate agent and lender until you are completely comfortable and understand all the paperwork you have received.

2. Time is of the essence in all things real estate. There are so many people involved in a transaction, and it is important that all items requested of the buyer from their lender, or their agent, be responded to as quickly as possible. If not, a delay could cost them dearly, from an increase in their loan rate, to even losing the property by not being able to remove a loan contingency in a timely manner.

Another area where the buyer needs to move quickly is when they have identified their dream home. Hesitating a day could mean losing out to another buyer. A slow response to a counteroffer could lose the home to a more aggressive buyer.

3. A buyer’s financials must be in order, and it is most important they don’t make any large purchases during the escrow period, pay bills late, incur derogatory marks on their credit report or change jobs. Make sure to stay in close contact with a lender before making any major money moves.

I read this article at:  http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Sound-Off-What-are-the-biggest-mistakes-the-4283038.php#ixzz2LOGh3yKt

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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

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

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

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Top 10 Home Remodeling Projects – Get More Bang for Your Buck!

I love helping my clients buy and sell their home.  But what really gets my blood pumping is home renovation.  I truly enjoy seeing a home before and after a client puts their touches into their space.  However, home renovation is costly and sometimes it doesn’t add up.  Please enjoy this article about which home projects get the most bang for your buck!   Let me know what you think!

Top 10 Remodeling Projects That Offer the Biggest Returns

Home owners are investing in their homes once again, according to recent industry surveys that point to a strong rebound taking hold in home remodeling. Home owners also may be seeing higher gains from some of these remodeling projects at resale, according to the most recent Cost vs. Value Report, which reviews the top remodeling projects that offer the highest returns at resale. The Cost vs. Value Report is conducted each year by Remodeling Magazine, in conjunction with REALTOR(R) Magazine.

So, which remodeling projects offer the potential for some of the biggest pay-backs at resale? The following mid-range remodeling jobs offer the highest returns, according to the 2013 Cost vs. Value Report.

1. Entry door replacement (steel)

Estimated job cost: $1,137

Return on investment at resale: 85.6%

2. Deck addition (wood)

Job cost: $9,327

ROI: 77.3%

3. Garage door replacement

Job cost: $1,496

ROI: 75.7%

4. Minor kitchen remodel

Job cost: $18,527

ROI: 75.4%

5. Window replacement (wood)

Job cost: $10,708

ROI: 73.3%

6. Attic bedroom

Job cost: $47,919

ROI: 72.9%

7. Siding replacement (vinyl)

Job cost: $11,192

ROI: 72.9%

8. Window replacement (vinyl)

Job cost: $9,770

ROI: 71.2%

9. Basement remodel

Job cost: $61,303

ROI: 70.3%

10. Major kitchen remodel

Job cost: $53,931

ROI: 68.9%

Home Trends, Remodeling Adviser, by Melissa Tracey

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine 

I read this article at: http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor.org/2013/02/18/top-10-remodeling-projects-that-offer-the-biggest-returns/?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRImwmB8w5t6jo&om_ntype=RMODaily

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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

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

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

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

For-Sale Home Inventories Remain Tight – From the Daily Real Estate News

I find it important to share articles related to our real estate market.  Please enjoy this one about our low inventory.

For-Sale Home Inventories Remain Tight – Daily Real Estate News

Inventory levels in 2012 reached an 11-year low and fell yet again last month, further limiting the number of homes for sale nationwide. Inventories of for-sale homes were down by 16.5 percent in January year-over-year, and fell 5.6 percent from December, according to the latest data compiled from Realtor.com.

Inventories typically fall in December and January in preparation of the spring buying season.

“But the shortage of homes for sale in a growing number of U.S. markets is maddening for would-be buyers who frequently complain that there aren’t enough good choices,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Bidding wars are becoming more common.”

At a time when buyer demand is strong, inventories remain constrained as banks slow their pace of foreclosures and home owners delay selling until they regain more equity in their homes.

Metro areas posting some of the largest monthly declines in inventory levels are San Francisco (where inventory levels are down by 21 percent in January compared to December and down 47 percent year-over-year) as well as Seattle (where levels dropped 9 percent from December). The two have also seen some of the largest price increases in the nation. Median asking prices have risen by 16.4 percent and 23.7 percent in those places, respectively.

My 2 Cents

Inventory is tight – across the board – across each price point on our beloved SF Peninsula.  Which is great news for sellers who’ve been waiting on the fence for recovery.  If you or someone you know is thinking about selling – let us know.  We’ll show you what your home is currently worth and with all the information – you can make a better decision on your next steps.

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/02/18/for-sale-home-inventories-remain-tight?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRImwmB8w5t6jo&om_ntype=RMODaily

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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

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

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

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Existing-home sales near 5-year high – great article I wanted to share…

Hello Blog Readers!

Sabrina here, came across this great article pulling statistics from the National Association of Realtors.  Please enjoy this positive report on our real estate market.

Existing-home sales near 5-year high

NAR’s year-end stats show housing markets flirting with pre-bust growth

BY INMAN NEWS, TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2013.

Existing-home sales, prices and inventory saw dramatic changes in 2012 reminiscent of the housing boom, statistics released today by the National Association of Realtors show.

At 4.65 million units, 2012 existing-home sales were up 9.2 percent from 2011, according to NAR’s preliminary totals for the year. That would be the highest volume since 2007, when 5.03 million were sold.

Bolstered by low inventories, the national median existing-home price was up 11.5 percent from a year ago in December, to $180,800. December saw the 10th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains, a trend not seen since May 2006.

For 2012 as a whole, the national median existing-home price was up 6.3 percent, to $176,600, the largest annual price gain since prices surged by 12.4 percent in 2005.

At 1.82 million units at the end of December, existing-home inventory now represents a 4.4-month supply, the lowest level since May 2005, near the peak of the housing boom.

“Likely job creation and household formation will likely fuel (market) growth,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. “Both sales and prices will again be higher in 2013.”

To finish reading this article and few their charts and graphs please visit: http://www.inman.com/news/2013/01/22/existing-home-sales-near-5-year-high

Here is another great article about home sales: http://newsgeni.us/?em=info@thecatonteam.com&p=106674

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

Can I Buy Your House Please? Great article from the Wall Street Journal

When my friend and lender Vanessa showed me this article – I was so excited.  I preach to each client trying to buy a home in our beautiful San Francisco Bay Area to write a letter to the seller – just in case.  It might not always work – but when it does – it’s amazing.

To read my client and friend –  Tatjana and Michael’s personal experience – where the note made all the difference – please read:

http://wp.me/p1GGbd-7Z

To read the Wall Street Journal article please visit:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323482504578227703128967098.html

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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

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