Eight Ways To Improve Your Home Appraisal

When I read this article I had to share it.  The Caton Team always provides comparable properties for our buyers appraisal.  But when you are refinancing on your own – don’t hesitate to call us – we’ll provide comparable properties for you!  What can the Caton Team do for you?

Eight Ways To Improve Your Home Appraisal

When Kellie and Michael May decided to refinance their home in the New York suburbs, they wanted to take advantage of historically low interest rates. But before landing a new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, they had to get through a home appraisal.

“It was a major stumbling block,” says Kellie May, who has owned the 4-bedroom, 3-bath colonial for seven years. Not that she and her husband were unprepared; they’d been through an appraisal for another refinance in 2010, so they knew to point out improvements they’d made to the 3,400 square foot home, and supply prices for other neighborhood properties that had sold recently.

But the appraisal came back roughly $70,000 less than the $1,230,000 the Mays were expecting, and too low to support their new loan.

They responded with a paperwork arsenal aimed at their lender, asserting that the appraisal had been based on faulty recent sales data. The loan squeaked through, after the bank crafted an exception for the Mays. It was able to do that because their loan was a jumbo loan, not subject to the more rigid underwriting standards they would have encountered if it were a conventional loan aimed at secondary buyers like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Low appraisals are becoming a bigger problem for many would-be buyers and refinancers as home values have started to stabilize and rise in some markets.

In Leesburg, Florida, for example, low appraisals have caused the cancellation of as many as 15 percent of home sales for local real estate broker Gus Grizzard.

“We are seeing higher price appreciation and are starting to run into appraisal problems,” said Charlie Young, chief executive officer of ERA Franchise Systems, a firm with a national network of real estate brokerage offices, including Grizzard’s. The National Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday that inventories of homes were low and the median price a home resale was, at $180,800 in December, up 11.5 percent in a year.

Appraisals are based on recent sales prices of comparable properties. And in rising price markets, those sales prices might not be high enough to support the newest deals. Young said there were many places in California reporting appraisal problems.

On Friday, the federal government issued new rules aimed at improving the appraisal process as it pertains to high-interest mortgages on rapidly appreciating homes.

But those rules don’t go into effect for a year, and don’t apply to most conventional loans. It pays to protect your own loan before the bank even thinks about sending that guy with the clipboard over to your house.

“The reality is that the appraiser is only there for 30 minutes at most,” says Brian Coester, chief executive of CoesterVMS, a nationwide appraisal management company based in Rockville, Maryland. “The best thing a homeowner can do to get the highest appraisal possible is make sure they have all the important features of the home readily available for the appraiser.”

Here are eight ways you can bolster your appraisal:

MAKE SURE APPRAISER KNOWS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD – SOOOOOOO IMPORTANT

Is the appraiser from within a 10-mile radius of your property? “This is one of the first questions you should ask the appraiser,” says Ben Salem, a real estate agent with Rodeo Realty in Beverly Hills, California.

He recalled a recent case where an appraiser visited an unfamiliar property in nearby Orange County and produced an appraisal that Salem said was $150,000 off. “If the appraiser doesn’t know the area intimately, chances are the appraisal will not come back close to what a property is really worth.”

You can request that your lender send a local appraiser; if that still doesn’t happen, supply as much information as you can about the quality of your neighborhood.

PROVIDE YOUR OWN COMPARABLES – Call The Caton Team – We’d be happy to help you!

Provide your appraiser with at least three solid and well-priced comparable properties. You will save her some work, and insure that she is getting price information from homes that really are similar to yours.

Websites including Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia offer recent sales prices and details such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a home.

KNOW WHAT ADDS THE MOST VALUE – Not sure where to put your money?  Call The Caton Team – We’ll help!

If you’re going to do minor renovations, start with your kitchen and bathrooms, says G. Stacy Sirmans, a professor of real estate at Florida State University. He reviewed 150 variables that affect home values for a study sponsored by the National Association of Realtors. Wood floors, landscaping and an enclosed garage can also drive up appraisals.

DOCUMENT YOUR FIX-UPS – Keep those receipts!

If you’ve put money into the house, prove it, says Salem.

“Before-and-after photos, along with a well-defined spreadsheet of what was spent on each renovation, should persuade an appraiser to turn in a number that far exceeds what he or she first called out.”

Don’t forget to highlight all-important structural improvements to electrical systems, heating and cooling systems – which are harder to see, but can dramatically boost an appraisal. Show receipts.

TALK UP YOUR TOWN

If your town has recently seen exciting developments, such as upscale restaurants, museums, parks or other amenities, make sure your appraiser knows about them, says Craig Silverman, principal and chief appraiser at Silverman & Co. in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

DISTINGUISH BETWEEN UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS

Many homeowners covet that refinished basement, but that doesn’t mean appraisers look at it the same way. “Improvements and additions made below grade, such as a finished basement, do not add to the overall square footage of your house,” says John Walsh, president of Total Mortgage Services in New York. “So they don’t add anywhere near as much value as improvements made above grade.”

According to Remodeling magazine, a basement renovation that cost $63,000 in 2011-12 will recoup roughly 66 percent of that in added home value. That’s not as good as an attic bedroom, which will recoup 73 percent of its cost. Even similar bedrooms typically count for more if they are upstairs instead of downstairs.

CLEAN UP

Even jaded appraisers can be swayed by a good looking yard. “Tree trimming, cleaning up, a few flowers in the flower beds and paint touch up can all help the appraisal,” says Agnes Huff, a real estate investor based in Los Angeles.

That advice holds true indoors, too. “Get rid of all the clutter in your home,” says Jonathan Miller, a longtime appraiser in New York. “It makes the home appear larger.”

GIVE THE APPRAISER SOME SPACE

Don’t follow the appraiser around like a puppy. “I can’t tell you how many homeowners or listing agents follow me around in my personal space during the inspection,” he says. “It’s a major red flag there is a problem with the home.”

And while you’re at it, make the appraiser’s job as pleasant as possible by giving your home a pleasant smell. At a minimum, clean out the litter box. Baking some fresh cookies and offering him one or two probably won’t sway your appraisal, nor should it. But it couldn’t hurt.

I read this article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/22/us-usa-housing-appraisals-idUSBRE90L0ZE20130122?VBd0T4I3F0KvenaC7w1NXQ=1

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

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

How Much Would You Pay For…

How Much Would You Pay For…

Being a full time Realtor – I get some great questions.  One of my favorites pertains to upgrades and how they affect resale value.  Please enjoy these two articles I found very interesting.  My comments are in italics.  

Buyers Will Pay Extra for These Features

By DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS

Some home shoppers say they are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home in order to have certain interior features.

The most coveted home features tend to center around the kitchen, such as stainless steel appliances and a kitchen island, says Errol Samuelson, president of realtor.com.

24/7 Wall St. used data from the National Association of REALTORS® to determine some of the most desired home features. Here are eight features that made the list and how much extra, on average, buyers say they’re willing to pay for having that feature in a home:

  • Central air conditioning: $2,520
  • New kitchen appliances: $1,840
  • Walk-in closet in master bedroom: $1,350
  • Granite countertops: $1,620
  • Hardwood floors: $2,080
  • Ensuite master bath: $2,030
  • Kitchen island: $1,370
  • Stainless steel appliances: $1,850

Sometimes paying the premium for a fixed up home works out for a buyer.  This past weekend my client felt it made more sense to pay more for a turn key home since the interest rate is a right off and you’d have a higher write off with a more expenseive home – compared to spending their weekends fixing up a home.  Each client is different with a unique budget and point of view. 

What would you pay for?

Before making the decision to buy, people shopping for homes consider hundreds of factors. They include location of the house, the school district, size of the lot and also interior features. Most buyers insist on a house that grants most of their wishes, but shoppers often settle for a house without getting everything they want.

When it comes to certain interior features, many are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home to have them included. At least 60% of buyers said they would be willing to pay more for central air conditioning, new kitchen appliances and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom if they did not already have these features.

Many of the features homeowners desire involve the kitchen. They include stainless steel appliances and a kitchen island. The kitchen is a major focal point for home buyers, said Errol Samuelson, president of Realtor.com.

“People, in general, have shown more interest in having big and beautiful kitchens, and the kitchen is acting as an informal gathering place,” Samuelson said in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. “We have gone from the ’70s where it was about Hamburger Helper … and now we’ve got the Food Network where people are more interested in exploring cooking.”

The desirability of some characteristics vary depending on the home buyers’ age. In the survey, more people age 35 to 54 found the internal features of a house to be very important in making a decision than any other age group. When people are younger and buying their first home, they are primarily interested in jumping into the real estate market to build equity, and the features are less important, Samuelson said. “For the younger demographic, home is a place to sleep and a place to store your clothes, but you are out all the time,” he said.

When people get older, settle down with a spouse and start raising a family, they still consider the home and its features as investments. However, they often start to build more of a connection with the house, and the details of the home become important to improving quality of life in the home, and less so for long-term investment. The house becomes a “personalized area that separates [the occupants] from the outside world,” Samuelson said.

While a high percentage of people said they would pay more for some features, how much they were willing to pay was not necessarily that high. Although six in 10 home buyers without a walk-in closet said they would be willing to pay more for a house with one, those people said they would only spend an additional $1,350, much less than what a walk-in closet typically costs.

The features described are not necessarily the most important deciding factor for potential home buyers, Brendon DeSimone, a Realtor and real estate expert with Zillow, told 24/7 Wall St. When looking at house, he said, the first things people consider are factors such as the neighborhood, the school district and the difficulty of the commute to work.

“Everything starts with location,” DeSimone said in an interview. “You can have the best house in the world, but if it’s not in the neighborhood and school district where everyone wants to live, you are just not going to look at it.”

Using data from the National Association of Realtors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 11 features that most homeowners were willing to pay more for. We also looked at the median amount that these people would be willing to pay to obtain that feature. In addition, we looked at data from the National Association of Realtors about whether prospective home buyers found certain features to be very important. That information was further broken down by factors such as home buyers’ age, whether they were looking to move into a new or previously owned home, and whether someone was a first-time or repeat buyer.

Based on those factors, here are the 11 most desirable home features:

11. One or more fireplaces
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,400

Some 40% of home buyers without a fireplace said they would spend additional money for at least one and cough up an extra $1,400. The fireplace, while always popular, was less necessary when several TVs were going in the house all at once, Samuelson said. But he speculated that having a home with fireplaces may become more popular in the future as people spend less time watching TV and more time on tablets and e-readers. These people may find the fireplace a good place to cozy up and use their devices, he said.

10. Eat-in kitchen
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,770

The people most interested in an eat-in kitchen tend to be in the 35-to-54 age range, with 30% of those prospective home buyers indicating this is “very important” in a house. Meanwhile, just 21% of those under 35 years of age and 20% over 55 feel the same way. More people, especially those who are raising families, want kitchens that look into family entertainment rooms. Some have even made it a family hangout by placing big-screen TVs and other electronics in the kitchen. “Buyers who are in families want to be in one space and do it all,” DeSimone said.

9. Home less than 5 years old
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $5,020

Some people simply want a newer home. For those willing to pay more for a newer home, the median that people would dole out was more than $5,000. Although this is a lot of money compared to most features, that money could be a wise investment in the long run. Maintenance costs are considerably less in newer homes compared to older homes, Samuelson pointed out. He also noted that newer homes tend to be much more efficient, attracting people who are environmentally conscious.

8. Stainless steel appliances
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 41%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,850

Like most features, stainless steel appliances are most important to people between the ages of 35 to 54, with 23% considering them to be a “very important” investment, compared with just 16% of those under the age of 35 and a mere 11% of those over the age of 55. From a cost perspective, stainless steel appliances are not necessarily the best investment. Samuelson noted that stainless steel wears out far easier than most other common materials. Also, the children in the house can also get their fingerprints on the appliances, requiring more cleaning. However, Samuelson said people are primarily driven to buy stainless steel appliances because they look more attractive.

7. Kitchen island
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 48%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,370

Kitchen islands are most important to people ages 35 to 54, with 24% indicating that it is a “very important” characteristic. Just 19% of people under 35 and 13% over 55 considered this feature important. DeSimone noted that kitchen islands often come in handy for those who are raising a family. It provides additional room to put out food for the family and allows the kitchen to become more organized. Although the desire for a kitchen island is high, those who do not have one but want one are only willing to shell out $1,370, less than most other features.

6. Ensuite master bath
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 49%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,030

Once again, the ensuite master bathroom tends to be more important to people ages 35 and older. “It kind of goes to the ‘home is my sanctuary’ mentality,” Samuelson said. This, along with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, has become more important in the past 10 years or so. Many people are eager to make their bathroom more “homey” by doing things such as installing televisions on the wall. The fact that many master bathrooms have two sinks is also an appealing option for married couples, Samuelson added.

5. Hardwood floors
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 54%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,080

Some 25% of buyers under the age of 35, and 28% of those between 35 and 54, considered hardwood floors “very important” when looking for a home. Only 17% of people ages 55 and up felt the same way. In previous generations, homes with carpets were considered better in order to conserve energy, DeSimone said. Even today, older people are more likely to feel more comfortable with carpeting because the insulation makes the home a little bit warmer. But for younger people looking to have many guests at the house and for people with children, hardwood floors are desirable because they are easier to clean than carpets.

4. Granite countertops
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 55%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,620

Among homeowners between the ages of 35 and 54, 24% viewed granite countertops as “very important,” compared to 18% of people under 35 and 18% of people over 55. Although just one in every five prospective home buyers said granite countertops were very important, 55% of those who bought a home without such a countertop said they would pay extra for it. Both DeSimone and Samuelson agreed that the granite countertop is more of a style issue than anything else. “There has been more emphasis on the beautiful kitchen these days, and granite countertops are a part of that,” Samuelson said.

3. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 60%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,350

A whopping 60% of homeowners were willing to pay extra for a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, with 44% of people between the ages of 35 and 54 viewing this feature as “very important,” compared to just 35% under the age of 35 and 36% of people 55 and older. DeSimone said the walk-in closet is desired for two main reasons: space and status. The space is very desirable for people as they get older and acquire more clothes, allowing people to be more organized. Having a walk-in closet in the master bedroom is also a status symbol. When giving a house tour, DeSimone said, people want to say, “Hey, check out my closet,” in the same way they say, “Hey, have you seen my new kitchen?”

2. New kitchen appliances
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 69%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,840

About 69% of homeowners said they were willing to spend more money for new kitchen appliances. Unsurprisingly, people who are looking to buy a new home find this far more important than people who are eyeing previously owned homes. People who are the first to live in a specific house tend to want everything to be new in the house because they consider the house truly “their own,” DeSimone said. People also do not want to have to deal with the stress of broken appliances. “They don’t want to come home after a horrible stressful day at work and find the dishwasher isn’t working or the fridge is making noises.”

1. Central air conditioning
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 69%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,520

Nearly seven in 10 homeowners said they would be willing to pay more on central air conditioning — the same as new kitchen appliances and more than any other feature. Central air conditioning was considered “very important” by more than 60% of people in all age groups. Samuelson noted that although people were willing to shell out approximately $2,500 for the feature, that is far less than what it would actually cost to install central air conditioning. “There is a difference in people’s preference and what they are willing to pay for,” Samuelson said. “They may want the steak but are on a macaroni budget.”

I would love to hear your two cents!  Comment here or email me anytime at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/04/29/home-buyers-say-they-ll-pay-extra-for-these-features?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRfpyKB8yORuS4&om_ntype=RMODaily

And

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/04/28/24-7-home-features/2106203/

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Home Buyers Face Dilemma with Housing Shortage – SF GATE sheds some light…

After a great open house yesterday with candid discussions with the buyers out there.  It was great to find this article this morning in the Sunday paper regarding what Realtors in the Bay Area were already thinking.  If you want to call our glorious SF Peninsula home – now is the time.  We hit bottom, whether it was 2009 or 2012.  With limited inventory and low rates driving renters from out under their rock – homes are selling with multiple offers and for over their listed price.  And with demand this strong – we don’t feel prices are going to fall anytime soon.  Take a read and let me know your thoughts.  Comment or email us at info@thecatonteam.com!  Enjoy!

Home Buyers Face Dilemma with Housing Shortage

The sharp drop in homes for sale poses a tough choice for buyers: Jump in now and compete with hordes of others or wait until inventory improves.  If you buy now, you might have to pay above asking. But if you wait, you could end up paying an even higher price and a higher interest rate if you need a loan. That’s because inventory won’t improve until prices rise enough to get more homeowners to sell and more builders to break ground.

The inventory shortage is especially acute in California. Of the 30 largest housing markets, the four with the biggest drops in homes listed for sale on Zillow in February compared with February of last year were Sacramento (48 percent), Los Angeles, San Francisco (41 percent) and San Diego.  Although listings are increasing on a month-to-month basis as the busy spring season gets under way, Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko predicts they won’t start rising on a year-over-year basis for a year or more.

An example of that: “In all of Millbrae, there was one listing two months ago. There are about a dozen now,” says Roger Dewes, a Coldwell Banker agent on the Peninsula. In a normal market, there might be 20. “We are not there yet, but going from one to 12 is quite a leap,” he says.

Experts cite five factors contributing to the inventory shortage:

Fewer foreclosures are hitting the market. “California did a good job of disposing of its backlog” of distressed properties, says Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

In California, where most foreclosures are handled out of court, the process is taking about 11 months on average, according to RealtyTrac. In New York and New Jersey, where foreclosures go through a court proceeding, the process is taking 36 and 32 months, respectively.

Many people still owe more than their homes are worth. If they sold now, they would have to come up with extra cash to pay off their loan. Although prices have rebounded from their lows, 23.3 percent of homes with a mortgage in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties were still underwater in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Zillow.

Even if they are not underwater, many owners won’t sell for less than they paid. If they bought near the peak, it may take a while before they are ready to budge.

The median price paid for a new or resale home or condo in the nine-county Bay Area was $415,000 in January. That’s less than halfway between its low of $290,000 in March 2009 and its high of $665,000 set in June/July 2007, according to DataQuick.

Many people, even if their homes are worth more than they paid, won’t sell because they are afraid they won’t be able to buy another house. “It becomes a game of musical chairs; they are afraid to get out because they can’t get back in,” Humphries says. This becomes “a self-reinforcing cycle” that keeps homes off the market.

The housing bust put new construction on hold.

The shortage comes at a time when demand is rising in the Bay Area, not just from regular buyers but from investors, second-home buyers and foreign buyers, especially from Asia.

‘Heck of a wreck’

The result is stories like this: A 1,500-square-foot home on Clipper Street on San Mateo’s east side, advertised as a “heck of a wreck,” attracted 97 offers in the first eight days, says listing agent Claire Haggarty of NBT Realty Services.

The home was listed in mid-January at $375,000, which Haggarty considered “a little under market.” It sold for $510,000 in an all-cash deal with no inspections, no contingencies and a 10-day close.

At some point, prices will rise enough to shake lose more inventory, but it won’t happen immediately.  Based on what’s happening around the country, Kolko says inventory tightens fastest in the first 12 months after prices hit a bottom. “Everybody wants to buy at the bottom and nobody wants to sell at the bottom,” he says.

About 12 months after hitting bottom, inventory continues to decline, albeit at a slower pace. But it won’t increase on a year-over-year basis until at least two years after hitting bottom, he predicts.  If you adjust for the mix of homes sold, Kolko says prices bottomed in February 2012 nationwide and in most parts of California and the Bay Area. (The San Jose metro area bottomed earlier, in June 2011.)

Although DataQuick shows Bay Area home prices bottoming in 2009, that’s when most homes being sold were low-priced. The middle and upper end of the market bottomed in early 2012, says DataQuick’s Andrew LePage.

If you believe Kolko’s two-year rule, inventory won’t begin increasing on a year-over-year basis until at least early 2014 in most areas.  Humphries says it might improve earlier, by the end of the year, but “this spring will still be challenging from an inventory perspective.” If you wait until next year to buy, the market may be cooler but prices are likely to be higher. There’s also a risk that interest rates will be higher, he says.

Sweet spot 

The sweet spot for buyers might be this summer. Even though inventory is falling year-over-year, “the seasonal pattern means there will be more homes on the market in the summer,” Kolko says. “Search traffic peaks in the spring, but inventory peaks in July.”  Many buyers also go on vacation in July and August, Dewes says.

The decision to buy or wait “really comes down to a fundamental decision about how long you will be in a home,” Humphries says. “If you want to be in a home long enough to make buying better than renting, make that decision as soon as you can.”

In the city of San Francisco, the breakeven point where it makes more sense to own is 3.7 years, Humphries says. “If you will be there more than 3.7 years, I’d say buy now.”

By Kathleen Pender SF GATE

I read this article at: http://www.sfgate.com/business/networth/article/Home-buyers-face-dilemma-with-shortage-4342162.php#page-2

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

 

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

25% of Consumers Have Errors on Credit Report – I WAS DECEASED! Great article – had to share!

When I came across this article I had to share it.  I also have to laugh – when my husband and I bought our first home and our credit was run – it came back that I was deceased!!!!  What really made me laugh though was that all my payments – from the grave  – were on time!  Since you cannot get a mortgage if you are not breathing, I called my bank and corrected their error; within a month my credit report stated I was alive again.  Sadly, we went through this again when we bought a car a few years later.  This time my husband wad deceased.  Instead of friendly help from our credit union, they hung up the phone and said they couldn’t help us.  So my husband went to a notary who certified that the man before him, was alive and well and with that notarized document we were able to correct his credit report.  Thankfully the dealership wasn’t too concerned and we bought the car before the correction – nonetheless – the moral of the story here…  Check your credit report YEARLY!  You can do so for free on sites like www.annualcreditreport.com , and monitoring it yearly will keep surprises to a minimum when trying to buy a home!  Enjoy this article from the Daily News…

25% of Consumers Have Errors on Credit Report

Consumers need to be extra vigilant about checking for any errors on their credit reports, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

One in four Americans report they’ve found an error on their credit report, according to a study conducted by the FTC, which analyzed 1,001 consumers’ credit reports from the three major agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Researchers helped the consumers spot potential errors on their reports.

Five percent of the consumers found such large errors on their report that they could have gotten stuck paying more for mortgages or other financial products, if they hadn’t taken steps to correct it before applying, according to the study.

Twenty percent of the credit reports studied that were found to have errors in it were ultimately corrected after the consumer took steps to dispute it, which resulted in about 10 percent of consumers receiving a higher credit score, according to the study.

Consumers are entitled to receive a free copy of their credit report each year from the three reporting agencies.

Source: “Study: 1 In 4 Consumers Had Error In Credit Report,” The Associated Press (Feb. 11, 2013)

I Read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/02/12/25-consumers-have-errors-credit-report?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRGpXlB8w0qair&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

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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

 

What’s the Best Season for Home Buying? Great question!

Just today I was asked this very question.  “What’s the Best Season for Home Buying?”  And thought this article was interesting from the DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS.  I must say though – when buying a home, instead of trying to figure everything out on your own, sit down with a Realtor, ask some questions.  We’re happy to meet with you.  Because truly, the time to buy is when you – as a buyer – are ready to do so.  These days (2012 and early 2013) the housing market is competitive no matter what time of year it is.  On average, buyers entering the market today are faced with a minimum 3-6+ month house hunt due to a lack on inventory and an abundance of buyers.  So writing several offers on several homes over the course of several months is standard operations these days.  If you are ready to become a homeowner – jump in and get started.  So much to learn, so much to see – The Caton Team is happy to help!

Enjoy this article…

What’s the Best Season for Home Buying?

After the holidays, buyers tend to start getting more aggressive with their house hunting. Search activity usually peaks around March or April in most states, according to a new study of home searches from 2007 to 2012 conducted by Trulia.

In September, searches slow down. By December buyer searches ebb to their lowest point of the year.

“Home-search activity swings with the seasons in every state,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia. “Buyers and sellers can use these ups and downs to their advantage. Sellers looking for the most buyers should list when real estate search traffic peaks. Buyers, however, should think about searching off-season, when there is less competition from other searchers.”

The study revealed seasonal patterns of search activity state to state. Here are the months when online real estate searches peak in every U.S. state:

  • January: Hawaii
  • February: Florida
  • March: Arizona, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington
  • April: Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin
  • May: Real estate activity does not peak in any state
  • June: Mississippi
  • July: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wyoming
  • August: Montana and Oregon
  • September-December: Real estate activity does not peak in any state

Source: “Trulia Reveals Best Home-Searching Season,” HousingWire (Jan. 29, 2013)

Sabrina’s 2 Cents:  In my experience, especially this year with our beloved 49’ers in the Superbowl, the market doesn’t really start to pick up until after Super Bowl Sunday.  It is funny to hear – but it is true.  We see the buyers get off the couch once the football season is over and listings start coming on the market.  We are ready when you are – give us a call or email!

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/01/31/whats-best-season-for-home-buying?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRCsnAB8wncg3e&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

5 Smart Moves for First Time Homebuyers

I came across this article and felt it was very timely – I also added my 2 cents in italics.  Enjoy – Sabrina
As a first-time real estate buyer, you probably have no idea how the overall purchasing process works or how to make sure you’re making a smart decision to purchase. And you’ll probably be very surprised to learn how much work it really is just to buy a home. To get you started in the right direction, and this is just a start, here are a few tips that you should consider.
Get lender-qualified and find a good real estate agent
To start off, you should get qualified by a lender to see what price range you can realistically afford and interview some real estate agents to find the right person to represent you in your transaction.
Once you’re qualified and have your price range estimate in hand, you’ll be able to spend your time shopping in neighborhoods that you can afford. But remember: Just because the bank says you can qualify for a certain amount, that doesn’t mean you should spend that amount. Make sure you can actually afford the monthly payment, along with all your other bills.
For real estate sales professionals, you should get referrals for a full-time agent or broker who sells at least five or more properties per year and is well-educated on the process and location where you plan to live. You should call references, check that the agent’s state sales license is up to date and interview them to make sure you’ll be comfortable working with them.
My 2 cents – Buyers should work with a lender who picks up the phone and answers their e-mails and questions in a timely manner.  Unless a buyer is using all cash, the home loan is VERY  key to purchasing.  A buyer will find that during the hunt and offer process – they will need an updated lender approval letter about every 30 days and your Realtor will need questions answered as your home journey progresses.  If the lender doesn’t respond, it can throw the home transaction off.
Make sure you plan to be a long-term owner
Once you know your price range and have looked at some properties, it’s time to make sure that you believe you can find a property that you will own for a minimum of five years. If your price range doesn’t match where you want to live, you’d be better off staying a renter and saving some additional money until you can afford where you want to live. This is because an owner really doesn’t earn any equity, on average, in a property for at least five years. That’s the generalbreak-even point, and you really need to shoot for longer than that as an ownership strategy. The truth is, long-term real estate ownership can be a great way to earn wealth, but short-term ownership usually will diminish your wealth.
My 2 cents – Due to our SF Peninsula location, The Caton Team advises buyers that they will mostly likely be in their new home for more than 5 years – closer to 7+ years before they see enough equity to sell.  Real Estate is definitely a long-term investment!  In regards to sitting back and saving though – it all depends on the real estate market where the buyer is purchasing and how fast homes are appreciating.  That’s why a buyer needs a full time agent to help them sort this out.  
On the SF Peninsula, we hit bottom on prices in 2009 – though not many people knew that.  Since then, due to low inventory, historically low interest rates and high demand; prices are moving up quickly with each sale.  Around here sometimes the market appreciates faster than buyers can save – and the last thing any buyer wants to find out – is that they waited themselves out of the home purchase market. 
Since no one can control the market and where prices are going.  If a buyer is serious about purchasing on the SF Peninsula and the home they want is not in their price range, The Caton Team suggests they go back to the table and re-evaluate their wants and needs list.  Determine if they can settle on something they didn’t necessarily want but fulfills their need.  And in time, they will earn equity, be able to sell their first home and buy a home more to their wants list than their needs list.  This might be the hardest part about purchasing on the Peninsula.  Often it pushes a buyer away from buying a home and more towards buying a condo since the price is more affordable and often larger and in better areas than similarly priced homes. 
Educate yourself
Buying property is probably the most complex, riskiest and expensive thing you will ever do. Do your homework: Talk to real estate owners, go to first-time buyer seminars, check out online material and read some books to learn what to avoid in the buying process. The more you educate yourself, the better the chances that when things go wrong — and they will go wrong — they will only be minor issues, not major headaches.
My 2 cents – In our experience the pro-active buyer is the most successful.  A Realtors knowledge and experience cannot be downloaded, though we try to explain and guide – there is so much to cover.  When a buyer steps in the real estate market it is far different than they expected.  Knowledge is power.  The Caton Team will never push a buyer to sign their name to a price or contract unless they feel it is the right thing to do.  And that feeling comes from educating themselves.  Asking questions, driving through areas, going to open houses and also sitting in our car to discuss homes as we tour.  It does take a lot of work to buy a home – and a buyer must be up for it if they want to succeed.  The Realtor cannot do this alone – a buyer must work closely with their Realtor and communicate!  Communication is so key to a successful working relationship.  And let your Realtor know who you would like to communicate.  Phone Email Text?  Just let us know.
Find a nice affordable property
The real gems in real estate are the nice, decent shape, moderately priced, boring houses, town homes and condominiums that are within your budget. Most buyers stretch to purchase the most expensive property they can afford. What if you lose your job? How about saving some of your money for retirement? You want your home to be an asset you can afford, not a liability that leaves you with no additional funds over the cost of homeownership. Also, skip the fixers, prize properties or anything that sounds too good to be true: Those always end up having issues, and owners realize, after the fact, that the deal they thought they were getting really was just too good to be true!
My 2 cents – This really hits home.  Often times buyers are so focused on getting a “house” they tend to overlook the repairs.  Figuring they can fix it themselves.  Sounds great in theory – until the repairs cost more than expected and now the monthly budget is tighter than expected.
When I purchased my first place, a one-bedroom condo, it only required some cosmetic updates.  We did most of the work ourselves, but in the end it still cost us about $20,000 and that was a condo – not a home.  Home repairs can be expensive.  And remember – it’s not an unexpected home repair – it is an expected home repair.  Because, like everything else, homes will deteriorate and require lifelong maintenance.  HOA dues don’t seem so crazy anymore once you compare what a home repairs might cost!
I’d rather see a first time buyer buy a condo that needs updating than a home that needs a roof, foundation repair and new windows. 
It’s hard for first time buyers to gauge and understand the cost of home repair and maintenance.  Ask your parents or a trusted friend who owns their home to get an idea of what maintenance and repairs can be like and how they are discovered.  Better yet start practicing your skills at painting etc or start getting quotes to better understand the cost.  We call this homework.
 
Take your time
Realistically it should take you six months or longer to buy a nice quality property that will add to your long-term wealth. Make sure you have a full understanding of what the marketplace has to offer in your price range and that you know what you’re doing.
Those are a few tips to get you started in the right direction. Real estate is buyer beware, so try to make sure you’re one of the buyers who is “aware” of how to make quality wealth-building real estate decisions. Down the road you’ll pat yourself on the back when things work out well.
My 2 cents – Be patient.  This is a journey not a race.  It will be frustrating.  At times a buyer will feel like this is just an uphill battle without any hope in sight.  Writing several offers and getting outbid will be stressful.  However, there is one thing we can say in our 25+ years of Real Estate experience.  If you want to buy a home and you are realistic, willing to adjust your wants and needs, taking the time to understand your financing options, your day to day expenses and doing your homework – you will get a home! 
Doris Day said it best – what will be will be.  Thanks for reading!
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

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

Home prices rebound

By Chris Isidore CNNMoney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: Best home deals in Best Places

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

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

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

Related: Buy or rent? 10 major cities

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

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

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

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

I read this article at: http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/25/real_estate/home-prices/index.html?source=linkedin

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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

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