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 Рthen 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

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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.

‚ÄúBut 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‚Äôt enough good choices,‚ÄĚ The Wall Street Journal reports. ‚ÄúBidding wars are becoming more common.‚ÄĚ

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 ‚Äď across the board ‚Äď across each price point on our beloved SF Peninsula.¬† Which is great news for sellers who‚Äôve been waiting on the fence for recovery.¬† If you or someone you know is thinking about selling ‚Äď let us know.¬† We‚Äôll show you what your home is currently worth and with all the information ‚Äď 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/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

New Short-Sale Program Offers Relief for Underwater Homeowners‚Ķ

Please enjoy this article I found interesting….

The Fannie-Freddie program allows short sales for owners who are current on loan payments but are encountering a hardship that could force them into default.

WASHINGTON ‚ÄĒ Though there are still some snares and drawbacks for participants, one of the federal government’s most important financial relief efforts for underwater homeowners started operating Nov. 1.

It’s a new short-sale program that targets the walking wounded among borrowers emerging from the housing downturn ‚ÄĒ owners who owe far more on their mortgages than their current home value but have stuck it out for years, resisted the temptation to strategically default and never fell seriously behind on their monthly payments.

Industry estimates put the number of underwater owners across the country at just under 11 million, or 22% of all homes with a mortgage. Of these, about 4.6 million have loans that are owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Eighty percent of these Fannie-Freddie borrowers, in turn, are current on their mortgage payments and meet the baseline eligibility test for the new short-sale effort.

Here’s how the program works and where the potential snares are. Traditionally short sales, where the lender agrees to accept less than the full amount owed and the house is sold to a new purchaser at a discounted price, are associated with extended periods of delinquency by the original owner. The new Fannie-Freddie program ‚ÄĒ designed by the companies’ overseer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency ‚ÄĒ breaks with tradition by allowing short sales for owners who are current on their payments but are encountering a hardship that could force them into default.

Say you are deeply underwater on your mortgage and recently lost your job or had your work hours reduced. Under the new program, you can contact your mortgage servicer and ask to participate in a Fannie-Freddie short sale for non-delinquent borrowers. You’ll need to find a qualified buyer for the house, typically with the help of a real estate broker or agent knowledgeable about short sales who will list the property and obtain an offer and communicate the details and documentation to the servicer. If the proposed short-sale package is acceptable, the deal would then proceed to closing weeks ‚ÄĒ or months ‚ÄĒ later.

Eligible hardships under the new program run the gamut: job loss or reduction in income; divorce or separation; death of a borrower or another wage earner who helps pay the mortgage; serious illness or disability; employment transfer of 50 miles or greater; natural or man-made disaster; a sudden increase in housing expenses beyond the borrower’s control; a business failure; and a you-name-it category called “other,” meaning a serious financial issue that isn’t one of the above.

Borrowers who take part in the new program can expect to rid themselves of the money-devouring albatross their mortgage has become ‚ÄĒ without going through the nightmares of foreclosure or bankruptcy ‚ÄĒ and to get a chance to start anew, better equipped to deal with the financial hardship that caused them to sell their house in the first place.

What about the snares in the program? There are several that participants need to consider.

‚ÄĘCredit score impact. Though officials at the Federal Housing Finance Agency are working on possible solutions with the credit industry, at the moment it appears that borrowers who use the new program may be hit with significant penalties on their FICO credit scores ‚ÄĒ 150 points or more. This is because under current credit industry practices, short sales are lumped in with foreclosures. According to Laura Arce, a senior policy analyst at the agency, the government is in discussions with the credit industry to institute “a special comment code” for servicers who report the new Fannie-Freddie short sales to the national credit bureaus that would treat participants more fairly on FICO scores.

‚ÄĘPromissory notes and other “contributions.” In the majority of states where lenders can pursue deficiencies, Fannie and Freddie expect borrowers who have assets to either make upfront cash contributions covering some of the loan balance owed or sign a promissory note. This would be in exchange for an official waiver of the debt for credit reporting purposes, potentially producing a more favorable credit score for the sellers.

‚ÄĘSecond lien hurdles. The program sets a $6,000 limit on what second lien holders ‚ÄĒ banks that have extended equity lines of credit or second mortgages on underwater properties ‚ÄĒ can collect out of the new short sales. Some banks, however, don’t consider this a sufficient amount and may threaten to torpedo sales if they can’t somehow extract more.

By Kenneth R. Harney Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group.

I read this article at: http://articles.latimes.com/print/2012/nov/11/business/la-fi-harney-20121111

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story ‚Äď Michael and Tatjana‚Ķ A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

When Michael and Tatjana reached out to The Caton Team ‚Äď 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‚Ķ¬†they didn‚Äôt get it.¬† The first time you lose a house ‚Äď it‚Äôs the pits.¬† The second and third time it doesn‚Äôt get any easier.¬† Tatjana and Michael started to lose hope.¬† Who wouldn‚Äôt?

But The Caton Team wouldn‚Äôt let them lose out on their dream.¬† As full time Realtors, we‚Äôve spent countless sleepless nights hoping and praying our client‚Äôs dreams come true.¬† We knew ‚Äď you have to get back on the horse, try, try again….there are other fish in the sea.

And they did ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď ‚Äėwhat‚Äôs the point?¬† The seller is looking for the most money and highest offer.‚Äô¬† I smiled.¬† We could hear the disappointment in their voice.¬† But we had faith.¬† We couldn‚Äôt 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôve known Tatjana since the 6th grade and here she was, with her husband and two beautiful sons‚Ķ¬† The phone rang, couldn‚Äôt get to it fast enough.¬† It was the seller‚Äôs agent. ¬†I could hear the happiness in her hello.¬† They got the house.¬† Quickly she interjected – it wasn‚Äôt about being the highest price, they weren‚Äôt.¬† 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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôt have found a better family.

Sometimes it really isn’t just about the money.

Congratulations to Michael and Tatjana ‚Äď 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

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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‚Äôt 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 ‚Äúyes.‚ÄĚ‚Ä®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 ‚Äď 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/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

3 ways Homebuyers kill their OWN real estate deals…

Hello¬† again! ¬†Below is a great article I read in Inman News that I thought I would share. ¬†I truly see this often….

Got questions Рthe Caton Team is here to help.  We are a click away Рemail us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

3 ways homebuyers kill their own real estate deals

Mood of the MarketBy Tara-Nicholle Nelson

I recently bought a couple of spa treatment packages for a friend’s birthday (as much as a gift to myself as to her, to be sure). The package included a pedicure and a massage for the price of the massage, but had a bizarro restriction that required I pick the gift cards up at least one day prior to spa day.

The problem: The spa was across a bridge from my town. Despite my very best calculations, I hit unexpected traffic and it took me an hour’s drive just to pick them up.

It’s a good thing for the spa that I was literally stuck on that bridge, unable to turn around; otherwise, that would have been an undone deal. I was very clear that the value of my hour far exceeded the value of those two “pedis.”

In the end, the conditions I had to surmount to take advantage of the bargain negated the value of the deal — and then some.

And that happens much more frequently than you’d think in the world of real estate. Today’s ridiculously low prices and interest rates, combined, seem like the perfect storm for finding a great deal.

But some buyers run into — or even unwittingly create — circumstances in an effort to cash in on the bargain that deactivate or diminish the full value they otherwise stand to gain from buying at the bottom of the market, for both home prices¬†and¬†interest rates.

Here are three ways homebuyers are defeating their own deals in today’s market:

1. House hunting too long. As many as 60 percent of the homes for sale in some markets are short sales. Many other listings are bank-owned (also known as real estate owned or REO) properties, and those homes tend toward two extremes: terrible condition, or so nice at such a low price they receive multiple offers.

Even the nicer, nondistressed homes on the market can end up in and out of contract over and over again due to appraisal or other lending-related issues.

As a result, it is not at all bizarre to hear homebuyers today say they’ve been house hunting for a year, 18 months, even two or three years. When you house hunt that long, you become susceptible to house hunt fatigue, which causes irrationally extreme overbidding out of sheer exhaustion.

Alternatively, it can cause you to settle for whatever house you can get, even if it doesn’t actually meet your needs — then spend the next 10 years obsessively spending to upgrade, improve, repair and furnish the place to try to make it more like the home you actually wanted.

Both of these outcomes negate and deactivate the bargain you stood to score.

To avoid house hunting too long, it’s uber-important to get and stay clear on the differences between what you want and what you need, and to work with a local real estate professional you trust.

Look to your agent to get and keep your expectations centered in reality, so you can make more strategic decisions throughout your entire house hunt, like house hunting in a price range where you’re likely to both find homes that will work for your life¬†and¬†be successful in your efforts to obtain one.

2.¬†Making lowball offers way too low. Overbidding seems like an obvious way to cancel out the bargain potential of your deal. But making excessively low offers — offers sellers couldn’t afford to take if they wanted to — can have the very same result.

Buyers who think they can operate strictly on the basis of buyer’s market dynamics — without realizing that most sellers will need to make enough to pay off their mortgage or at least receive the fair market value for their home — are cutting off their own noses to spite their faces, all in the name of trying to score an amazing deal.

Note to “lowballers”: If you don’t actually secure the home, the superlow price you offered is no deal at all.

3. Freak-outs, stress, drama and mayhem. Once was, it was mostly the buyers uneducated about the homebuying process who tended to freak out and stress the most, especially at the top of the market. These were the folks who found themselves defeated at every turn by buyers who knew what they were up against and were prepared to make their best offer on their first offer.

Fast forward, and now the norm is for buyers to spend much more time reading up on what to expect, but the inundation of information can create brand new mindset management challenges.

Almost every buyer is stressed about whether they can qualify for a loan, and about buying into a down market. Some buyers try to apply national headlines about home prices being depressed to the superlocal dynamics of their neighborhood market.

This is unwise if you happen to be, for example, trying to buy a home in the boomtown real estate markets of Silicon Valley. Others go the opposite direction and deny that the basic truths about, say, buying a short-sale listing will actually apply to them (attention homebuyers: buying a short sale usually takes a long, long time).

The emotional freak-outs that result from having your expectations shattered, sometimes brutally, in the course of buying a home often lead to panic-based and fear-based decisions, which can be costly in the short and long term. Additionally, the stress itself can take a toll on your ability to be productive at work, and can even impair your relationship with your mate, neither of which are worth any deal you think you stand to strike.

Again, managing your expectations by working with a trusted broker or agent you feel comfortable relying on to understand the market in your neck of the woods and the type of transaction you want to pull off is essential to downgrading the role emotion plays in your real estate decision-making.

Got Questions? РThe Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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

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

How to Write a Great Offer on a Short Sale Property…

So you’ve found your dream home only to find out it is a short sale. ¬†Nuts. ¬†Now what?

A short sale is a pre-foreclosure property.  Perhaps the seller has stopped paying their mortgage and are in default, or perhaps the seller is on top of paying their mortgage, but are forced to sell when the market is down.  Either way it comes down to one thing Рthe seller owes more than the home is worth and in order to sell the property free and clear of any liens the seller must ask the bank to take less than they are owed Рthus the term short sale.

For a seller to qualify for a short sale they must be in financial distress and prove this to the bank.

For a buyer in requires great patience while the offer package and seller financial documents are reviewed by many many many investors.

Because of the tedious review process Рa buyer must be wise when writing their initial offer.

How to write a good offer on a short sale home…

To be frank, when writing an offer on a short sale property you only get one shot. ¬†Once and if the bank¬†accepts¬†the short sale offer – that price is firm. ¬†During the buyers contingency period – if they find out there is an expensive issue – there is no going back to the bank and re-negotiating. ¬†The buyer can either walk away from the deal due to the new information – or the buyer can take a look at their other options on the market and decide what is best for them. ¬†Of course, as your Realtors – the Caton Team will try to renegotiate the price and if an¬†appraisal¬†comes in low – that’s ammo.

The good news – since generally the owners still occupy the home, it is not in too bad of shape and disclosures can be provided up front.

So, how do we write a good offer? ¬†Buyers and their agent will take into consideration the pro’s and con’s of the home and write their best offer after taking a look at comparable properties on the market. ¬†The short sale bank will conduct one or more¬†appraisals¬†of the home and if the buyers offer price is in line with market price – generally the bank will move forward with that offer.

Price is important but sometimes it is not everything.  When writing any offer, a buyer will need to have a bank pre-approval letter, copy of their bank statements and pay checks to show their financial security.  The short sale bank wants to be sure the purchaser is strong.

The terms of the contract are equally important. ¬†Time is always of the essence in Real Estate – it is even a term in the contract. ¬†When dealing with a short sale bank – a buyer and their Realtor have got to think like a bank – that means moving fast when the bank is ready. ¬†Close of Escrow should be a 30 window – shorter if possible. ¬†Longer than 30 days tends to turn the bank away. ¬†As for as¬†contingency¬†periods (time for the buyer to conduct their inspections and¬†appraisal) the short sale bank will give the buyer the standard window of time – generally 10-17 days after¬†acceptance. ¬†Having a tight contingency period will make the short sale bank a bit more happy. ¬†Also, the bank doesn’t move at¬†anyone’s¬†pace except their own – so giving the bank at least 3 months to review the short sale¬†package¬†is acceptable, longer is better if a buyer doesn’t mind.

Now on my end, as the Realtor – I want to make sure I send the bank your offer and all the paperwork by mail instead of fax so the bank has everything it needs and hopefully cutting down on the back and forth.

In the end, a buyer must write THEIR best offer, and whether they get the house or not, be comfortable with their purchase.

Got Questions? РThe Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at:

Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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

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

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

How To Read Disclosures

Congratulations –¬† you‚Äôve found a home you‚Äôd like to write an offer on.¬† This is very exciting!¬† The first step before writing an offer is to review the disclosures that have been provided by the seller in advance (if given the¬†opportunity).¬† Here are the instructions on how to go about reviewing the disclosures package & preparing yourself to write an offer.

1. Grab a highlighter, pen, paper & post-it notes.

2. You will need to read & review the entire disclosure package before we get together.

3. We will review your questions & concerns before we write an offer & answer them as best we can & make notes to ask the seller, inspectors & the listing agent during your contingency period.

4. Please DO NOT WRITE on the disclosures Рit is OK to use a highlighter.  Write you questions & concerns on a separate piece of paper & use post-it notes.

5.¬†As you read each page, most forms will have a ‚ÄúBuyers Initials‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúBuyers Signature‚ÄĚ at the bottom of each page.¬† PLEASE SIGN & INITIAL WHERE REQUESTED after you have read & reviewed the page.¬† Please note – regardless if you ‚Äúlike or dislike‚ÄĚ what you are reading – you will need to initial & sign where necessary.¬† The purpose of the disclosures package is to inform you of any known defects upfront.¬† How we (your buyers agents & you) go about repairing/correcting said issues is part of the contract & negotiations.

6.¬†You will need to sign ALL upfront disclosures before we write the offer ‚Äď doing so in advance will shave 1 to 2 hours from our appointment.¬† Giving us more time to discuss your options.

7. Once we’ve discussed your questions & concerns you can make an educated decision on how much you want to offer & what issues you want clarified or corrected.

8. Please allow 2-4 hours for our offer appointment.

9. Bring the signed Disclosure Package to our appointment.

Please Bring With You the Following:

  • Copy of you Bank Statement showing Proof of Down Payment & Closing Costs
  • Loan Approval Letter
  • CHECK BOOK!!!!!¬† Please remember that your good faith deposit of up to 3% of the Purchase Price must be available funds

Got Questions РThe Caton Team is here to help.  Email us @  Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

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