Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Do I have to give the buyer my furniture?

February 11, 2010

It is a good idea to begin this conversation with your agent before your property hits the market.  There are laws on the books about what is a fixture: “The California legislature has declared that a thing is affixed to the land when it is attached and imbedded into a wall permanently by means of cement, plaster, nails, bolts and screws is a fixture.  Also, it is affixed to the land so as to be regarded as a permanent part of it, such as a building, a tree or bridge, as well as anything that is similarly affixed to an already affixed object such as the doors of a building, or permanently installed cabinets, or built-in appliances”.   California Department of Real Estate Reference Guide.

So how does this affect you?  You may have a lovely chandelier in your dining room that was given to you by a family member and it holds strong sentimental value, the best advice is to remove it and put another one in its place.  Invariably the new buyer will want what you want.  You should have your agent insert the exclusion in your contract with your agent and in the MLS.  I have had buyers ask for flat screen TV’s, patio furniture (a lot of furniture), bar stools, furniture, fish in the coy pond.  Jokingly, some buyer’s upon first seeing the house may ask for the family pet or that fantastic car in driveway.   The most common requests are for the refrigerator, washer, dryer and stove, and sometimes fireplace equipment, which may match the fireplace screen. Some refrigerators and stoves are built-in, or built as part of the structure, and it would damage framing around these items to remove them.   I had one transaction in 22 years where the lender disallowed the transfer of the washer, dryer and ‘frig, and considered them personal property.  All we had to do was remove the items from the contract.  If there are a number of items, for instance, a house full of furniture, the lender may ask for it to be taken out of the contract as they lend on real estate and not personal property.  Some buyers offer to buy some of the seller’s personal items.

If you think about when you bought your home the thought of forking out more money after the closing may not figure into your budget.  You might be able to ask for them on a subsequent purchase.

For info on what your house in Los Angeles is worth or to search your new home go to my site DonnaBenton.com.

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Real Estate 101 glossary P-R

November 28, 2009

Here we are after Thanksgiving.  Forget the turkey, I was stuffed.

PARTIAL INTEREST   A shared ownership in a piece of property. May be divided among two or more parties.

PARTIAL PAYMENT   A payment of less than the regular monthly amount. Usually, a lender will not accept partial payments.

PERIODIC PAYMENT CAP   The limit on how much regular monthly payments on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage can change during one adjustment period.

PERIODIC RATE CAP   The limit on how much the interest rate on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage can change during any one adjustment period.

PERSONAL PROPERTY Owned items which are not permanently affixed to the land.

PERSONAL RESIDENCE   The primary domicile of a person or family.

PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT (PUD)   A coordinated, real estate development where common areas are shared and maintained by an owner’s association or other entity.

PLAT   A plan or chart of a piece of land which lays out existing or planned streets, lots or other improvements.

POINT   A percentage of a mortgage amount (one point = 1 percent).

PRE-APPROVAL   The process of applying for a mortgage loan and becoming approved for a certain amount at a certain interest rate before a property has been chosen. Pre-approval allows the borrower greater freedom in negotiations with sellers.

PREFABRICATED  Any building or portion thereof which is manufactured and assembled off site, then erected on a property.

PREPAYMENT  Payment made that reduces the principal balance of a loan before the due date and before the loan has become fully amortized.

PREPAYMENT PENALTY   A fee that may be charged to a borrower who pays off a loan before it is due.

PRE-QUALIFICATION   Less formal that pre-approval, pre-qualification usually means a written statement from a loan officer indicating his or her opinion that the borrower will be able to become approved for a mortgage loan.

PRIME RATE   The interest rate that banks and other lending institutions charge other banks or preferred customers.

PRINCIPAL   The amount owed on a mortgage which does not include interest or other fees.

PRINCIPAL BALANCE   The outstanding balance of principal on a mortgage. Does not included interest due.

PRINCIPAL, INTEREST, TAXES, AND INSURANCE (PITI)   The most common constituents of a monthly mortgage payment.

PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE (PMI)  A form of mortgage insurance provided by private, non-government entities. Normally required when the LOAN TO VALUE RATIO is less that 20%.

PROPERTY  Any item which is owned or possessed.

PURCHASE AGREEMENT   A written contract signed by the buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold.

QUADRAPLEX  Any building designed to accommodate four families.

QUALIFYING RATIOS   Two ratios used in determining credit worthiness for a mortgage loan. One is the ratio of a borrower’s monthly housing costs to monthly income. The other is a ratio of all monthly debt to monthly income.

QUITCLAIM DEED   A legal document which transfers any ownership an individual has in a piece of property. Often used when the amount of ownership is not known or is unclear.

RAFTER  A structural element of the roof, sloping from the peak to the outer walls.

RANCH HOUSE   An architectural style typified by a single-story, low-roof construction. Popular in the western U.S.

RATE LOCK   A guarantee from a lender of a specific interest rate for a period of time.

RAW LAND   Any land which has not been developed.

REAL ESTATE   A piece of land and any improvements or fixtures located on that land.

REAL ESTATE AGENT   A licensed professional who facilitates the buying and selling of real estate.

REAL ESTATE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURES ACT (RESPA)  A federal law requiring lenders to give full disclosure of closing costs to borrowers.

REAL PROPERTY   Land, improvements and appurtenances, and the interest and benefits thereof.

REALTOR®  A real estate agent or broker who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS®.

RECEPTACLE   An electrical outlet to plug into.

RECORDER   A local government employee whose role it is to keep records of all real estate transactions within the jurisdiction.

RECORDING   The filing of a real estate transaction with the appropriate government agent (normally the RECORDER). A real estate transaction is considered final when it is recorded.

REFINANCE TRANSACTION   A new loan to pay off an existing loan. Typically to gain a lower interest rate or convert equity into cash.

REGISTER   Where air from a furnace or air conditioning system enters the room.

RELOCATION SERVICE   Any company or agency that assists corporate employees in relocating from one place to another. Services may include hiring and coordinating real estate agents, moving companies, utilizes and the like.

REMAINING BALANCE   Back to top
The amount of principal, interest and other costs that has not yet been repaid.

REMAINING TERM   The amount of time remaining on the original amortization schedule.

REMODEL   An activity designed to improve the value or desirability of a property through rebuilding, refurbishing, redecorating or adding on to it.

REPAYMENT PLAN   A plan to repay delinquent payments, agreed upon between a lender and borrower, in an effort to avoid foreclosure.

REPLACEMENT RESERVE FUND  An account, or fund, setup for the replacement of short life items, such as carpeting, in the common areas of a cooperative property.

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY  A piece of property whose highest and best use is the maintenance of a residence.

REVOLVING DEBT   A type of credit that allows the borrower/customer to make charges against a predetermined line of credit. The customer then pays monthly installments on the amount borrowed, plus interest.

RIDGE BOARD   The structural member of a roof where the rafters join at the top.

RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL   An agreement giving a person the first opportunity to buy or lease a property before the owner offers it for sale to others.

ROOF PITCH   The degree of slope in a roof.

RURAL  An area outside of an established urban area or metropolitan district.

Real Estate 101 Glossary

October 16, 2009

Lola and me

Today I  will tackle the “C’s”

CALL OPTION   a REMAX logoA clause in a mortgage which allows the lender to demand payment of the outstanding balance at a specific time.

CAP   Associated with Adjustable Rate Mortgages. A limit on how high monthly payments or how much interest rates may change within a certain time period or the life of the mortgage.

CAPE COD COLONIAL   A single-story house style made popular in New England. Often characterized by a steep roof with gables.

CAPITAL   Accumulated goods and money which is most often used to generate additional income.

CAPITAL EXPENDITURE   An outlay of funds designed to improve the income-producing capabilities of an asset or to extend its economic life.

CASH-OUT REFINANCE   Refinancing a mortgage at a higher amount than the current balance in order to transform a portion of the equity into cash.

CAULKING   A pliable material used to seal cracks or openings such as around windows.

CAVEAT EMPTOR   Literally translated: ”Let the buyer beware.” A common business tenet whereby the buyer is responsible for verifying any and all claims by the seller of property.

CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT   A document showing that the bearer has a certain amount of money, at a particular amount interest, on deposit with a financial institution.

CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT INDEX   An index based on the interest rate of six month CD’s. Used to set interest rates on some Adjustable Rate Mortgages.

CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY  A document issued by the Veterans Administration that certifies eligibility for a VA loan.

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY   Issued by an appropriate jurisdictional entity, this document certifies that a building complies with all building codes and is safe for use or habitation.

CERTIFICATE OF REASONABLE VALUE (CRV)   Usually based on an independent appraisal, a CRV for a particular property establishes the maximum amount which can be secured by a VA mortgage.

CERTIFICATE OF TITLE   A document designating the legal owner of a parcel of real estate. Usually provided by a title or abstract company.

CERTIFIED GENERAL APPRAISER   Generally, any professional who has met the local or state requirements, and passed the appropriate certification exam, and is capable of appraising any type of property.

CERTIFIED RESIDENTIAL APPRAISER   A sub-classification of appraiser who is only licensed to appraise residential property, usually up to four units.

CHAIN OF TITLE   The complete history of ownership of a piece of property.

CHATTEL   Any personal property which is not attached to or an integral part of a property. Chattel is not commonly taken into consideration when appraising the value of real property.

CIRCUIT BREAKERS   Electrical devices which automatically open electrical circuits if they are overloaded.

CLEAR TITLE   Ownership of property that is not encumbered by any counter-claim or lien.

CLOSING   A torturous process designed to induce cramping in a home buyer’s hands by requiring signature on countless pieces of documentation that nobody has ever read. Or, the process whereby the sale of a property is consummated with the buyer completing all applicable documentation, including signing the mortgage obligation and paying all appropriate costs associated with the sale (CLOSING COSTS).

CLOSING COSTS   All appropriate costs generated by the sale of property which the parties must pay to complete the transaction. Costs may include appraisal fees, origination fees, title insurance, taxes and any points negotiated in the deal.

CLOSING STATEMENT   The document detailing the final financial arrangement between a buyer and seller and the costs paid by each.

CO-BORROWER   A second person sharing obligation on the loan and title on the property.

COLLATERAL   An asset which is placed at risk to secure the repayment of a loan.

COLLECTION   The process a lender takes to pursue a borrower who is delinquent on his payments in order to bring the mortgage current again. Includes documentation that may be used in foreclosure.

CO-MAKER   A second party who signs a loan, along with the borrower, and becomes liable for the debt should the borrower default.

COMMON LAW   As opposed to statute law. Laws that have been established by custom, usage and courts over many years.

COMMISSION   A percentage of the sales price or a fixed fee negotiated by an agent to compensate for the effort expended to sell or purchase property.

COMMON AREA ASSESSMENTS   Fees which are charged to the tenets or owners of properties to cover the costs of maintaining areas shared with other tenets or owners. Commonly found in condominium, PUD or office spaces.

COMMON AREAS   Any areas, such as entryways, foyers, pools, recreational facilities or the like, which are shared by the tenets or owners of property near by. Commonly found in condominium, PUD or office spaces.

COMMUNITY PROPERTY   In many jurisdictions, any property which has been acquired by a married couple. The ownership of the property is considered equal unless stipulated otherwise by both parties.

COMPARABLES   An abbreviated term used by appraisers to describe properties which are similar in size, condition, location and amenities to a subject property whose value is being determined. The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) establish clear guidelines for determining a comparable property.

COMPOUND INTEREST   Interest paid on the principal amount, as well as any accumulated interest.

CONCESSIONS   Additional value granted by a buyer or seller to entice another party to complete a deal.

CONDEMNATION  The official process by which a property is deemed to be uninhabitable or unusable due to internal damage or other external conditions.

CONDENSATION   The transition of water vapor to liquid. Typically forms in areas of high humidity.

CONDOMINIUM   A development where individual units are owned, but common areas and amenities are shared equally by all owners.

CONDOMINIUM CONVERSION   Commonly, the conversion of a rental property such as an apartment complex into a CONDOMINIUM-style complex where each unit is owned rather than leased.

CONDUIT  The pipe through which electric wiring is run.

CONSTRUCTION LOAN   
A loan made to a builder or home owner that finances the initial construction of a property, but is replaced by a traditional mortgage one the property is completed.

CONTIGUOUS   Connected to or touching along an unbroken boundary.

CONTINGEnCY   Something that must occur before something else happens. Often used in real estate sales when a buyer must sell a current home before purchasing a new one. Or, when a buyer makes an offer that requires a complete home inspection before it becomes official.

CONTRACT  A legally binding agreement, oral or written, between two parties.

CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE   A traditional, real estate financing mechanism that is not backed by any government or other agency (FHA, VA, etc.).

CONVERTIBLE ARM   A mortgage that begins as and adjustable, that allows the borrower to convert the loan to a fixed rate within a specific timeframe.

COOPERATIVE (CO-OP)  
A form of ownership where each resident of a multiunit property owns a share in a cooperative corporation that owns the building. With each resident having rights to a specific unit within the building.

CORPORATE RELOCATION   A situation where a person’s employer pays all or some of the expenses associated with moving from one location to another, usually over a substantial distance. Relocation expenses often include the amounts, such as brokerage fees, incurred in the selling and buying of the employee’s primary residence

COST OF FUNDS INDEX (COFI)   An index of financial institutions costs used to set interest rates for some Adjustable Rate Mortgages.

COVENANT   A stipulation in any mortgage that, if not met, can be cause for the lender to foreclose.

CREDIT   A loan of money for the purchase of property, real or personal. Credit is either secured by an asset, such as a home, or unsecured.

CREDIT HISTORY   A record of debt payments, past and present. Used by mortgage lenders in determining credit worthiness of individuals.

CREDITOR   A person to whom money is owed.

CREDIT REPORT   A detailed report of an individuals credit, employment and residence history prepared by a credit bureau. Used by lenders to determine credit worthiness of individuals.

CREDIT REPOSITORY  Large companies that gather and store financial and credit information about individuals who apply for credit.

CUL-DE-SAC  A dead-end street. One with only one entrance/exit. French for bottom of the bag.

Real Estate 101 Glossary

October 13, 2009

I thought that I would assist people with the buying and selling process.  Last week I had the Buyer’s 10 Commandments and this week I will be posting a glossary of real estate terms.  Please contact me should you have any questions.

a REMAX logoLola and meABSORPTION RATE   
The ratio of the number of properties in an area that have been sold against the number available. Used to show the volatility of a market.

ABSTRACTION METHOD   
This method of estimating the value of property uses similar properties available in the same market to extract the value of a parcel of land.

ACCELERATION CLAUSE   
A provision in a mortgage that gives the lender the right to demand immediate payment of the outstanding loan balance under certain circumstances. Usually when the borrower defaults on the loan.

ACCESSORY BUILDING   
A building separate from the main structure on a property. Often used for a specific purpose, such as a workshop, storage shed or garage.

ACCRETION   
The natural growth of a piece of land resulting from forces of nature

ACRE   
43,560 square feet. A measurement of area.

ACTUAL AGE   
The amount of time that has passed since a building or other structure was built. See also: EFFECTIVE AGE

ADJUSTMENT DATE   
The date the interest rate changes on an adjustable rate mortgage.

AD VAL OREM TAX   
Taxes assessed based on the value of the land and improvements

ADDENDUM   
A supplement to any document that contains additional information pertinent to the subject. Appraisers use an addendum to further explain items for which there was inadequate space on the standard appraisal form.

ADJUSTABLE-RATE MORTGAGE (ARM)   
A type of mortgage where the interest rate varies based on a particular index, normally the prime lending rate.

ADJUSTED BASIS   
The value of an asset (property or otherwise) that includes the original price plus the value of any improvement, and less any applicable depreciation.

ADJUSTED SALES PRICE   An opinion of a property’s sales price, after adjustments have been made to account for differences between it and another comparable property.

AESTHETIC VALUE   
The additional value a property enjoys based on subjective criteria such as look or appeal.

AFFIRMATION   
A declaration that a certain set of facts are truthful.

AFFORDABILITY ANALYSIS   
A calculation used to determine an individual’s likelihood of being able to meet the obligations of a mortgage for a particular property. Takes into account the down payment, closing costs and on-going mortgage payments.

AGENT   
A person who has been appointed to act on behalf of another for a particular transaction.

AMENITY   
Any feature of a property that increases its value or desirability. These might include natural amenities such as location or proximity to mountains, or man-made amenities like swimming pools, parks or other recreation.

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF APPRAISERS   
An organization of appraisal professionals and others interested in the appraisal profession.

AMORTIZATION   
The repayment of a loan through regular periodic payment.

AMORTIZATION SCHEDULE   
The breakdown of individual payments throughout the life of an amortized loan, showing both principal contribution and debt service (interest) fees.

AMORTIZATION TERM   The length of time over which an amortized loan is repaid. Mortgages are commonly amortized over 15 or 30 years.

ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (APR)  
The rate of annual interest charged on a loan.

ANNUITY   
A sum of money paid at regular intervals, often annually.

APPLICATION   
A form used to apply for a mortgage loan that details a potential borrower’s income, debt, savings and other information used to determine credit worthiness.

APPRAISAL   
A ”defensible” and carefully documented opinion of value. Most commonly derived using recent sales of comparable properties by a licensed, professional appraiser.

APPRAISAL FOUNDATION   
A not-for-profit educational organization established by the appraisal profession in the United States in 1987. It is dedicated to the advancement of professional valuation and responsible for establishing, improving, and promoting the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

APPRAISAL INSTITUTE   
A world-wide organization dedicated to real estate appraisal education, publication and advocacy.

APPRAISAL PRINCIPLES   
The basic building blocks of the property valuation process, including property inspection, market analysis and basic economics.

APPRAISAL REPORT   
The end result of the appraisal process usually consists of one major standardized form such as, the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report form 1004, as well as all supporting documentation and additional detail information. The purpose of the report is to convey the opinion of value of the subject property and support that opinion with corroborating information.

APPRAISAL STANDARDS BOARD (ASB)   
An independent board of the APPRAISAL FOUNDATION, which writes, amends, and interprets USPAP. The ASB is composed of up to seven appraisers appointed by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The ASB holds public meetings throughout the year to interpret and amend USPAP.

APPRAISED VALUE  
An opinion of the fair market value of a property as developed by a licensed, certified appraiser following accepted appraisal principals.

APPRAISER   An educated, certified professional with extensive knowledge of real estate markets, values and practices. The appraiser is often the only independent voice in any real estate transaction with no vested interest in the ultimate value or sales price of the property.

APPRECIATION   
The natural rise in property value due to market forces.

ARMS LENGTH TRANSACTION   Any transaction in which the two parties are unconnected and have no overt common interests. Such a transaction most often reflects the true market value of a property.

ASSESSED VALUE   
The value of a property according to jurisdictional tax assessment.

ASSESSMENT   
The function of assigning a value to a property for the purpose of levying taxes.

ASSESSMENT RATIO   
The comparative relationship of a property’s assessed value to its market value.

ASSESSOR   
The jurisdictional official who performs the assessment and assigns the value of a property.

ASSET   
Any item of value which a person owns.

ASSIGNMENT   
Transfer of ownership of a mortgage usually when the loan is sold to another company.

ASSUMABLE MORTGAGE  
A mortgage that can be taken over by the buyer when a home is sold.

ASSUMPTION   When a buyer takes over, or “assumes” the sellers mortgage.

ATTACHED HOUSING   
Any number of houses or other dwellings which are physically attached to one another, but are occupied by a number of different people. The individual houses may or may not be owned by separate people as well.

First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit Closing in on Deadline

September 24, 2009

Lola and meThe Clock Is Ticking as First-Time Buyers Intensify Their House Hunting a REMAX logo

By Amy Hoak Print Article RISMEDIA,

September 18, 2009—(MCT)—Tired of paying rent and enticed by a first-time home buyer tax credit, 25-year-old Garrett Rebel began his search for a home in August, scouring the suburbs of Dallas for a house to meet his current and future needs. And he’s already running out of time. The federal tax credit for first-time buyers is “a huge motivator” for Rebel, and he may end his search if the Nov. 30 deadline arrives and he still hasn’t closed on a deal. He unsuccessfully submitted an offer on one house; after going back and forth with the seller couldn’t come to a price agreeable to both parties. “I haven’t found anything that I’ve fallen in love with,” Rebel said. Timing is everything for many first-time buyers today. For those who purchase a home this year, the tax credit is for 10% of the purchase price, up to $8,000. Those who have owned a home in the past three years aren’t eligible. Buyers also have to meet eligibility requirements regarding income; the current credit begins to phase out for singles who make more than $75,000 and couples who make more than $150,000. Unless it is extended, this credit will expire on Nov. 30. “We are seeing an increase in buyers wanting to get closed prior to the tax credit closing deadline,” said real-estate agent Amy Downs, who represents Rebel. “We are seeing an increase in sellers wanting to get their homes on the market and closed by this deadline. I feel that if we can get the homes priced accordingly and a strong offer by mid-October, we can beat this deadline with a reputable lender working the buy side.” Some real-estate agents and mortgage brokers are recommending that first-time buyers close no later than the week before Thanksgiving to ensure that no holiday-related office closings or abbreviated schedules interfere with the process. That means finalizing a purchase on or before Nov. 20. In fact, to make sure you can take advantage of the credit, it’s probably best to go under contract no later than the first or second week of October, said Jim Sahnger, mortgage planner with Palm Beach Financial Network in Florida. The National Association of Realtors reports that it’s taking about two months to complete a home sale in the current market, as lenders scrutinize borrower paperwork and issues with appraisals pop up. In short, first-time buyers probably need to select a property and make an offer by the end of this month. But rushing to meet the deadline is a double-edged sword. The purchase of a home—let alone your first one—isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. “For anyone, the decision to buy a house has to be a right one,” Sahnger said. “While the $8,000 can be great to have, I wouldn’t let that force you into a decision. But there is something that works and you want to take advantage of the credit, you can’t afford to delay the decision.” For buyers who don’t make the deadline, there is a chance the credit will be extended. There are at least 20 bills drafted regarding the credit; one-third of them have been introduced recently, said Lucien Salvant, managing director of public affairs for NAR. Some proposals would not only extend the first-time buyer credit into next year, but would also expand it to include all home buyers, remove income restrictions and raise the maximum amount of the credit, up to $15,000. By including all buyers, there could be more of a ripple effect as more Americans spend money on moving vans, lawn equipment — any items or services associated with making a move, said Jerry Howard, president and CEO of the National Association of Home Builders. NAHB and NAR have been lobbying heavily for the extension. “The first priority is going to be to renew the $8,000 credit, but we have some good arguments for expanding it,” said Jerry Giovaniello, senior vice president and chief lobbyist for NAR. He argues that the credit doesn’t cost much but has a huge impact. If you’re a first-time buyer, however, waiting is a gamble. “What you have in front of you now is a tax credit. After that, you don’t know what you have,” Salvant said. “This thing can go all different kinds of ways.” NAR estimates that about 1.8 million to 2 million first-time buyers will take advantage of the tax credit this year, and says that roughly 350,000 sales wouldn’t have taken place without the credit. But the effectiveness of the credit will eventually peter out because there are only so many potential first-time buyers, said Richard Green, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California. He said that the credit is likely getting many first-time buyers to make their purchases six months to a year earlier than they would have anyway. “In terms of how effective it is, I don’t think it does any harm at this point. It’s pushing sales forward that would have happened anyway,” he said. “You’re giving money to people who were going to buy anyway.” Increasing the credit amount to $15,000 and expanding it to everyone, however, could end up translating to higher home prices, he added. Still, there is growing Capitol Hill support for the extension of the credit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it needs to be extended by the end of the year, according to a spokesman from his office. And Washington Research Group, a unit of securities firm Concept Capital, recently put the chance of extension at 60 percent. Yet with Congress currently focusing on other issues, and concerns about the country’s rising deficit, some wonder how difficult it will be for housing to garner attention anytime soon. “All eyes are on health care,” said Bruce Hahn, president of the American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance. According to Realtor.com, first-time buyers on average search 12 weeks to find a home. But there are ways for buyers to expedite their journey to closing: Sign up for automatic alerts for properties that fit your criteria. Many buyers start their search online, and it’s possible to sign up for e-mail alerts when properties that meet your criteria are added, Realtor.com points out. If you’re working with a real estate agent, he or she also may be able to register you for automatic alerts when homes are listed. But make sure the information you receive is fresh — you don’t have time to look at unavailable homes. Do all you can to ensure a smooth mortgage process. Collect pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns to prove income. Get prequalified. And while your loan is in process, don’t make major purchases on credit cards — that could delay closing, said Julie Reynolds, a spokeswoman for Realtor.com. Prepare for closing costs early. Get your insurance company and, if applicable, your homeowner association, to forward a cost estimate to the escrow company early, Realtor.com recommended in a news release. In many states, closing costs must be paid — in cash — at closing. Read more: http://rismedia.com/2009-09-17/the-clock-is-ticking-as-first-time-buyers-intensify-their-house-hunting/#ixzz0RwsiGMLN

Feds Award Los Angeles $37 Million

September 19, 2009

a REMAX logoThe City has received over $37 million from the US Department of Energy under the federal stimulus program, to undertake programs that reduce fossil fuel use, improve energy efficiency, and create and retain jobs.  EnvironmentLA will be hosting seven public meetings over the next two weeks to gather public input about how we should spend this money.

The Westside meeting is September 24, 5-7 at the Felicia Mahood Senior Center

11338 Santa Monica Blvd., west of Sawtelle-around Corinth and Purdue

 

You will have an opportunity to voice your opinion and see eligible plans.

Dog bites house in Playa del Rey

September 14, 2009

a REMAX logo426 Manchester g houseYesterday, I had an open house at 426 W. Manchester, Playa del Rey.  I love going their as it is great to drive through Ballona Wetlands on the way, very peaceful .  We had over 12 parties; which is a great turn-out.  Unfortunately, the next door neighbors dog had gotten out and was wandering around the neighborhood.  When I drove up he walked in front of my car.  I think the neighbors have a blue Prius also, because he did the same when I was ready to leave.  I did not know he was their dog because I had never heard him or seen him before.  So I knocked on their door, but they were not home.  I tried to find how he got out to put him back in.  The only gate was a heavy locked driveway door, but I did see an open window with the screen on the ground.  That’s how he got out.  Tried as I could, he would not let me come close to pick him up and put him back in the window.  I felt bad for him because he obviously wanted to go back in the house. So, I go about setting up my open house and what does he do?  He starts his beagle bay on the front porch.  His  house is up a hill, so it reverberates throughout the house I am having open.  Later the back neighbors have a party that is quite loud and boisterous.  Should I stay or should I go?  I decide to stay.  Funny, I never knew the neighbors had a dog.  He is usually quite.  Later in the day, I asked one of the rs neighbors if they had a mobile number for the owners, but they did not.  Another neighbor said he was out all day.  I hope they came home soon.

HUD secretary meets w/RE/MAX head about short sales

September 10, 2009

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RE/MAX Chairman and Co-Founder Dave Liniger met with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan on Sept. 4. They had a conversation on a variety of topics related to the current state of the real estate market, but focused primarily on recommendations for streamlining the short sale process.“We feel strongly that if short sale transactions can become more like normal real estate transactions, we can make significant headway in reducing the number of vacant and foreclosed homes on the market,” Liniger said. “Because most homeowners aren’t aware that they have this option and loan servicers haven’t made it a priority, we feel that the federal government should facilitate an effective national initiative.”Also present at the meeting, held in Secretary Donovan’s office, were FHA Commissioner Dave Stevens and Laurie Maggiano of the Treasury Department’s Chief of Homeowner Preservation Office. Accompanying Liniger to Washington was RE/MAX Senior Vice President, Mike Ryan.

Learn more about short sales Real Estate Insider is hosting a Webinar, “Short Sales Demystified,” on Sept. 24. Click here for the details.

A short sale can occur when a lender allows a homeowner to sell a home for a price that is less than what is owed on the mortgage, if the homeowner is experiencing a financial difficulty that would make monthly mortgage payments a significant burden.  Unfortunately, nearly 70 percent of homeowners facing foreclosure never list their home for sale, even though a short sale has many benefits over a foreclosure.

RE/MAX has made assisting such families a high priority and has undertaken a comprehensive, targeted agent training program. In March, Liniger set a goal of having 7,500 RE/MAX sales associates earn the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation by the end of the year. The actual number has already passed 7,000 and represents 62 percent of all CDPE agents in the United States.

Surveys show that after earning a CDPE designation, agents are twice as likely to be able to keep families in their homes. With the CDPE designation, agents are also able to cut the time in half that it takes to close a short sale.  The average CDPE agent closes about 10 short sale transactions a year.

“Secretary Donovan has a very good understanding of how short sales can help this market, and he was certainly open to our specific recommendations, especially in the area of agent training and public awareness. We’re expecting an announcement will soon be made about procedures to facilitate a streamlined short sale process,” Liniger added. 

Short sales could be the best solution for homeowners who are facing a foreclosure, have been turned down for a loan modification, or who have lost their job and can no longer make their mortgage payments. Homeowners who find themselves in one of these difficult positions should contact a real estate professional who is specifically trained to handle short sales to find out how the process could result in a positive outcome. A CDPE agent is especially aware of this critical process.

A streamlined short sale process could benefit the entire real estate marketplace and offers a much better alternative to foreclosure. Lenders often experience greater losses taking a home to foreclosure, neighborhoods suffer greater losses in home values with foreclosed homes, which are often vacant, and homeowners sustain more severe damage to their credit as the result of foreclosure.

The real estate market will not recover until the number of foreclosures is reduced and home prices start to rebound. An efficient short sale process can have a significant impact on foreclosures, which remain at record high levels. RE/MAX hopes that a standardized, national short sale process will soon be in place to promote a lasting housing recovery.

DOE Awards $535 million loan for solar panel research

September 9, 2009

a REMAX logoGreat article from the  DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)

 

DOE Finalizes $535 Million Loan Guarantee for Solyndra DOE has finalized a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, Inc., a Fremont, California, company that manufactures innovative solar photovoltaic panels. The loan guarantee is the first using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, and the first from DOE since the 1980s. In the September 4 announcement by Vice President Joe Biden, he noted that the money will finance construction of the first phase of the company’s new manufacturing facility, which will have the capacity to produce 500 megawatts of solar panels per year. Solyndra estimates the new plant will initially create 3,000 construction jobs and will lead to as many as 1,000 jobs once the facility opens, in addition to hundreds of new jobs throughout the country for installers of the solar power systems. This view from beneath a Solyndra solar panel shows blue sky through the gaps between the glass tubes, which cast shadows on the surface below. Support structures hold the panels about 10 inches above their mounting surface. Credit: Solyndra, Inc. Solyndra also started construction of the new facility on September 4, with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lending a hand for the groundbreaking. The facility will employ a new and highly innovative process for manufacturing Solyndra’s solar panels. Solyndra deposits thin films of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), a photovoltaic material, on the inner surface of glass tubes, which are then hermetically sealed on both ends with a metal caps. The glass tubes are then assembled into large, flat solar panels. The cylindrical design enables the CIGS material to capture direct, diffuse, and reflected sunlight, allowing the panels to be mounted flat and close together. This makes greater use of the rooftop area than a traditional flat solar panel, which is typically mounted in racks that tilt the panels toward the sun. The design also allows air to flow through the panels, keeping the operating temperature down and reducing wind loads, which in turn makes installation easier. Solyndra’s panels will be primarily used in the fast-growing market for solar power systems installed on large, flat rooftops. See the press releases from DOE and Solyndra, the Web site for the DOE Loan Guarantee Program, and Solyndra’s overview of its solar panel technology.

Healthy Home Tips 4: Pick plastics carefully | Environmental Working Group

September 4, 2009

I found this article and website helpful:  I hope you will also.

Donna

a REMAX logoHealthy Home Tips 4: Pick plastics carefully | Environmental Working Group

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