Archive for the ‘home’ Category

Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase

April 17, 2010

I am so proud of Mar Vista.; this is a great event, and they have been offering the Sustainable Works programs that were developed in Santa Monica. I hope you can join me for this year’s Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase to see how residents in our community are combating California’s water crisis through drought resistant landscaping.

 Free self-guided walking and biking tours through 79 private Mar Vista resident gardens offers a firsthand look at a variety of sustainable, drought-resistant landscapes. As a model community for water wise best management practices, Mar Vista has been at the forefront of Los Angeles’ most progressive water conservation measures which include hosting a Water Wise Use Expo and participating as the first neighborhood in the City’s Rainwater Harvesting Pilot Program.

 Click marvistagreengardenshowcase.blogspot.com for a preview of the gardens and a map of the locations to plan your own tour. Choose a walking, biking or driving tour, or select the gardens that showcase solutions that you may be considering. Look for the flags with the Mar Vista Community Council  (MVCC) logo in front of each house on the day of the tour:

   Sunday, April 25  2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

 This is a wonderful opportunity to get some fresh air and some fresh ideas about how you can take steps to save water while at the same time greening your garden.

Advertisements

Earth Hour Saturday, April 8, at 8:30 pm

March 26, 2010

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the, Sydney Harbour Bridge, The CN Tower in Toronto, The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour. In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global climate change initiative. Earth Hour 2010 takes place on Saturday 27 March at 8.30pm (local time) and is a global call to action to every individual, every business and every community throughout the world. It is a call to stand up, to take responsibility, to get involved and lead the way towards a sustainable future. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Europe to Asia to the Americas will stand in darkness. People across the world from all walks of life will turn off their lights and join together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet. So sign up now and let’s make 2010 the biggest Earth Hour yet!.

California Real Estate buyer tax credit

March 3, 2010

H.R. 3548 provides both for the extension of the first-time homebuyer tax credit and expansion of it to qualified non-first-time buyers as well.  A few of the provisions of this new law include the following: 

(1)  Both the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit and the $6,500 tax credit for “move-up” buyers (see 4 below) would sunset on April 30, 2010. However, purchasers who have binding contracts as of April 30, 2010 (before May 1, 2010), would still qualify for the credit as long as they complete the transaction within 60 days (or June 30, 2010).

(2)  The amendment establishes income limits of $125,000 for an individual or $225,000 for a couple for both credits.

(3)  The cost of the home being purchased cannot exceed $800,000 for both categories in order to be eligible for the credit. 

(4)  “Move up” buyers (an individual or his/her spouse, if married) are qualified if he/she “has owned and used the same residence as such individual’s principal residence for any 5-consecutive-year period during the 8-year period ending on the date of the purchase of a subsequent principal residence.”

For purchases made in 2010, taxpayers would be able to claim the credit on their 2009 income tax return. Homebuyers would not have to repay the credit, provided the home remains their principal residence for 36 months after the purchase date. However, this recapture provision would not apply in the case of a member of the Armed Forces, military intelligence or Foreign Service who is on qualified official extended duty. In addition, members of the military who have been deployed overseas for 90 days or more in 2008 or 2009 would have until April 30, 2011, to claim the homebuyer tax credit.

The amendment also includes anti-fraud language that gives the IRS the authority to do greater oversight during the processing of the return rather than waiting for an audit situation. The amendment requires the taxpayer claiming the credit to be 18 or older and requires a HUD-1 settlement statement to be attached when claiming the credit.

Ideas for your garden

March 1, 2010

Many homeowners think that a new landscaping project will cost them a great deal of time and money. While it’s true that there’s no end to the ways one can spend money on landscaping, there are many things you can do to improve your yard at relatively little expense. All it takes is a little planning and a couple of days of good weather. Rethink your walkway: Even if you can’t dig up your walkway or change the direction of your entranceway, consider creating a welcoming path to your door using plants, border fencing, or other treatments. Add new flowerbeds to your lawn: Sketch your plans for the new beds and consider creating attention with intriguing shapes. Install new lighting: Fixtures don’t have to be the expensive type – they just need to be strategically placed to highlight features and to create awareness. Decorate freely: Use rocks, driftwood, outdoor art, a fountain or birdbath to provide visual anchors and points of interest. Get neighborly input (and plant contributions): Ask friends, neighbors and relatives for advice, and don’t refuse plant transplants from their perennial gardens (but pay special attention to seasonal foliage, hardiness, etc.).  Since we have many years with little rainfall (not this year)I would also advise you to do some research on drought tolerant or native plants.  The Sunset Garden Book is a great resource , as well as TheodorePayne.org which has a nursery and demonstration gardens in Sun Valley.  Their Native Plant tour is April 10-11 .   Culver  City Garden Club has a meeting the first Tuesday of every month, at 7:30 pm in the Garden Room of the Culver City Veteran’s Building located at Culver Blvd. and Overland.  You can go to the meetings for free or join for $12/year, $18 for 2 people.  They have plant raffles at every meeting.  The Coral Tree is Los Angeles office tree, not the Palm Tree.  Bird if Paradies is our official flower.  Gardening can be a very relaxing past time, just try not to over do it.

For info on what your house in Los Angeles is worth or to search your new home go to my site DonnaBenton.com.  310-398-2332

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.

Real Estate 101 Glossary V-Z

December 31, 2009

The last blog  of the year with the last letters of this glossary.  Thank you for joining me this year and have a Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

VACANCY RATE   The current percentage of vacant properties in a given area, regardless of why they are vacant.

VA MORTGAGE  A mortgage that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

VARIANCE   An exception to municipal zoning regulations granted for a specific time period to allow for non-conforming use of the land.

VENT PIPE   A pipe allowing gas to escape.

VESTED   Having the right to use a portion of a fund such as an IRA. Typically vesting occurs over time. If you are 100% vested, you have a right to 100% of the fund.

VETERANS AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF (VA)   The successor to the Veteran’s Administration, this government agency is responsible for ensuring the rights and welfare of our nation’s veterans and their dependents. Among other duties, the VA insures home loans made to veterans.

VOLTAGE   An expression of electric force, or pressure. One volt being the force needed to move one amp against one ohm resistance.

WALK-THROUGH INSPECTION   A process whereby an appraiser examines a property in preparation for estimating its value. Also, the process of inspecting a property for any damage prior to that property being bought or sold.

WARRANTY   An affidavit given to stipulate the condition of a property. The person giving the warranty assumes liability if the condition turns out to be untrue.

WATT   An expression of amount of electrical power. Volt times amps equals watts.

WEAR AND TEAR   A term used to indicate the normal damage inflicted on a property through every-day use.

WEATHER STRIPPING   Material used around windows and doors to prevent drafts.

WEEP HOLE  Drainage hole that allows water to escape.

ZERO LOT LINE   A municipal zoning category wherein a building or other fixture may abut the property line.

ZONE   A specific area within a municipality or other jurisdiction which conforms to certain guidelines regarding the use of property in the zone. Typical zones include single-family, multi-family, industrial, commercial and mixed-use.

Real Estate 101 Glossary S-V

December 17, 2009

We are coming down to the end of the alphabet.

SALE PRICE   
The actual price a property sells for, exclusive of any special financing concessions.

SALES COMPARISON APPROACH   
An appraisal practice which estimates the value of a property by comparing it to comparable properties which have sold recently.

SCARCITY   
An economic principal that dictates the price of a good or service through the interaction of supply and demand. When an item is scarce, its price tends to rise, given a constant demand. Real Estate is a classic example of scarcity.

SECOND MORTGAGE  
A loan secured by the equity in a home, when a primary mortgage already exists.

SECONDARY MORTGAGE MARKET   
An economic marketplace where mortgage bankers buy and sell existing mortgages.

SECURED LOAN   
A loan that is backed by collateral. In the case of a mortgage loan, the collateral is the house.

SECURITY   
The property used as collateral for a loan.

SEMIDETACHED HOUSING   
Two residences which share a common wall.

SERVICER   
A financial institution which collects mortgage payments from borrowers and applies the appropriate portions to principal, interest and any escrow accounts.

SERVICING   
The processing of payments, mailing of monthly statements, management and disbursement of escrow funds etc Typically carried out by the company you make payments to.

SHEATHING   
The covering on outside walls beneath the siding or exterior finish such as stucco.

SHEETROCK   
Also called drywall, the gypsum board commonly used on interior walls.

SHORT SALE   When a borrower owes more on a mortgage than their home is worth and are financially unable to continue making the mortgage payments.  In order for this to sell, the borrower’s lender would have to agree to take less than it owed on the property and pay seller’s closing fees.

SILL PLATE   
The lumber used around the foundation to support exterior wall framing.

SILL COCK   
Garden hose pipe connection.

SINGLE-FAMILY PROPERTY   
A property designed and built to support the habitation of one family.

SOFFIT  
The underside of a cornice at the eaves.

STUCCO   
A textured plaster exterior (and occasionally interior) wall finish.

STUD   
A vertical framing piece in a wall, generally 2×4 lumber in interior walls.

SUBDIVISION   
A residential development that is created from a piece of land which has been subdivided into individual lots.

SUBJECT PROPERTY   
A term which indicates a property which is being appraised.

SUMP   
A basin into which water drains and from which the water is pumped out.

SURVEY   
A specific map of a piece of property which includes the legal boundaries and any improvements or features of the land. Surveys also depict any rights-of-way, encroachments or easements.

SWEAT EQUITY   
The method whereby a home owner develops equity in a property, either during the purchase or throughout its life, by personally constructing improvements rather than paying to have them built.

TAX-EXEMPT PROPERTY   
Any property which is not taxed.

TENANCY   Back to top
The right to occupy a building or unit.

TENANCY IN COMMON   
A form of holding title, whereby there are two or more people on title to a property, ownership does not pass on to the others upon the death of one individual.

THIRD PARTY ORIGINATION   
When a lender uses a third party to originate and package loans for sale to the secondary market (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac).

TITLE   
A specific document which serves as proof of ownership.

TITLE COMPANY   
An organization which researches and certifies ownership of real estate before it is bought or sold. Title companies also act at the facilitator ensures all parties are paid during the real estate transaction.

TITLE INSURANCE   
A policy which insures a property owner should a prior claim arise against the property after the purchase has been completed. This also covers a lender should a question of ownership arise.

TITLE SEARCH   
The process whereby the TITLE COMPANY researches a properties title history and ensures that no outstanding claims exist.

TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP   
Any means by which the ownership of a property changes hands.

TRANSFER OF TAX   
Taxes payable when title passes from one owner to another.

TRAP   
A bend in water pipe.

TRUSTEE   
A fiduciary that holds or controls property for the benefit of another.

TRUTH IN LENDING   
A federal law requiring full disclosure by lenders to borrowers of all terms, conditions and costs of a mortgage.

TUDOR   
A style of architecture typified by exposed stone, wood and brick construction. Similar in style to English manor homes.

UNDER IMPROVED LAND   
A piece of land which has been improved, but not to the full extent of its potential.

UNENCUMBERED PROPERTY   
Any property which has no outstanding claims or liens against it.

UNIFORM STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL APPRAISAL PRACTICE (USPAP)   
Developed in 1986 by the Ad Hoc Committee on Uniform Standards and copyrighted in 1987 by The Appraisal Foundation, USPAP forms the guidelines followed by every licensed and certified real estate appraiser in the United States. The purpose of these Standards is to establish requirements for professional appraisal practice, which includes appraisal, appraisal review, and appraisal consulting. The intent of these Standards is to promote and maintain a high level of public trust in professional appraisal practice.

USEFUL LIFE   
The span of time over which a property can be used or can provide benefits to its owner.

VACANCY RATE   
The current percentage of vacant properties in a given area, regardless of why they are vacant.

VA MORTGAGE   
A mortgage that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

VARIANCE   
An exception to municipal zoning regulations granted for a specific time period to allow for non-conforming use of the land.

VENT PIPE   
A pipe allowing gas to escape.

VESTED   
Having the right to use a portion of a fund such as an IRA. Typically vesting occurs over time. If you are 100% vested, you have a right to 100% of the fund.

VETERANS AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF (VA)   
The successor to the Veteran’s Administration, this government agency is responsible for ensuring the rights and welfare of our nation’s veterans and their dependents. Among other duties, the VA insures home loans made to veterans.

VOLTAGE  
An expression of electric force, or pressure. One volt being the force needed to move one amp against one ohm resistance.

How to buy a bank owned property

November 22, 2009

This was so popular, I am posting again

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM7oWKgCVo4&feature=player_embedded

Real Estate 101 glossary L-M

November 13, 2009

Here is “l” and “m”,  couldn’t think of anything with a ‘k”.

 

LALLY COLUMN  A concrete filled steel pipe used to support beams.

 LATE CHARGE  An extra charge, or penalty added to a regular mortgage payment when the payment is made late by an amount of time specified in the original loan document.

LATENT DEFECTS Any defect in a piece of property which is not readily apparent, but which has an impact of the value. Structural damage or termite infestation would be examples of latent defects.

 LEASE Lola and mea REMAX logo A contract between a property owner and a tenant specifying the payment amount, terms and conditions, as well as the length of time the contract will be in force.

 LEASEHOLD ESTATE  A type of property ”ownership” where the buyer actually has a long-term lease on the property.

LEASE OPTION  A lease agreement that gives the tenant an option to buy the property. Usually, a portion of the regular monthly rent payment will be applied towards the down payment.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION  The description of a piece of property, identifying its specific location in terms established by the municipality or other jurisdiction in which the property resides. Often related in specific distances from a known landmark or intersection.

 LENDER  The person or entity who loans funds to a buyer. In return, the lender will receive periodic payments, including principal and interest amounts.

 LIABILITIES  A person’s outstanding debt obligations.

 LIABILITY INSURANCE  Insurance that covers against potential lawsuit brought against a property owner for alleged negligence resulting in damage to another party.

LIEN  Any claim against a piece of property resulting from a debt or other obligation.

 LIFE CAP  A limit on how far the interest rate can move for an Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

 LIKE-KIND PROPERTY  Any property which is substantially similar to another property.

LINE OF CREDIT  An extension of credit for a certain amount for a specific amount of time. To be used by the borrower at his discretion.

LIQUID ASSET  Any asset which can be quickly converted into cash at little or no cost, or cash itself.

 LOAN Money borrowed, to be repaid with interest, according to the specific terms and conditions of the loan.

 LOAN OFFICER  A person that “sells” loans, representing the lender to the borrower, and the borrower to the lender.

LOAN ORIGINATION  How a lender refers to the process of writing new loans.

LOAN SERVICING  The processing of payments, mailing of monthly statements, management and disbursement of escrow funds etc Typically carried out by the company you make payments to.

LOAN-TO-VALUE RATIO (LTV)  The comparison of the amount owed on a mortgaged property to its fair market value.

LOCK-IN  An agreement between a lender and a borrower, guaranteeing an interest rate for a loan if the loan is closed within a certain amount of time.

 LOCK-IN PERIOD  The amount of time the lender has guaranteed an interest rate to a borrower.

MAJOR DEFICIENCY  A deficiency that strongly impacts the usability and habitability of a house. Or a deficiency that may be very expensive to repair.

MANUFACTURED HOUSING  Once known as ”mobile homes,” manufactured housing is any building which has been constructed off site, then moved onto a piece of real property.

MARGIN  The difference between the interest rate and the index on an adjustable rate mortgage.

MARGINAL LAND  Land whose value has been diminished due to some internal defect or external condition. In most cases, the cost to correct the flaw or condition is as much or more than the expected return from the property.

MASTER ASSOCIATION  An umbrella organization that is made up of multiple, smaller home owner’s associations. Often found in very large developments or condominium projects.

MATURITY   The date on which the principal balance of a financial instrument becomes due and payable.

 MERGED CREDIT REPORT    A credit report derived from data obtained from multiple credit agencies.

METES AND BOUNDS   A traditional way of describing property, generally expressed in terms of distance from a known landmark or intersection, and then following the boundaries of the property back to its origin.

METROPOLITAN AREA  The accumulated land in and around a city or other municipality which falls under the political and economic influence of that entity.

MINERAL RIGHTS  The legal right to exploit and enjoy the benefits of any minerals located below the surface of a parcel of land.

MISREPRESENTATION  A statement by one party in a transaction that is incorrect or misleading. Most misrepresentations are deemed to be intentional and thus may constitute fraud. Others, however, some are rendered through simple mistakes, oversights or negligence.

 MORTGAGE  A financial arrangement wherein an individual borrows money to purchase real property and secures the loan with the property as collateral.

MORTGAGE BANKER  A financial institution that provides primary and secondary mortgages to home buyers.

MORTGAGE BROKER  A person or organization that serves as a middleman to facilitate the mortgage process. Brokers often represent multiple mortgage bankers and offer the most appropriate deal to each buyer.

MORTGAGEE  The entity that lends money in a real estate transaction. 

MORTGAGE INSURANCE  A policy that fulfills those obligations of a mortgage when the policy holder defaults or is no longer able to make payments.

 MORTGAGE INSURANCE PREMIUM (MIP)  A fee that is often included in mortgage payments that pays for mortgage insurance coverage.

MORTGAGE LIFE INSURANCE  A policy that fulfills the obligations of a mortgage when the policy holder dies.

MORTGAGOR  The entity that borrows money in a real estate transaction.

MULTI-FAMILY PROPERTIES  Any collection of buildings that are designed and built to support the habitation of more than four families.

Real Estatte 101 Glossary “I, & J'”

November 8, 2009

Lola and me

Been in LaJolla for Tom Ferry seminar.

Enjoy the I’s and J’s.

IMPROVED LAND   Any parcel of land which has been changed from its natural state through the creation of roads, buildings or other structures.

IMPROVEMENTS   
Any item added to vacant land with the intent of increasing its value or usability.

IMPROVEMENT RATIO   The comparative value of an improved piece of land to its natural, unaltered state.

INCOME APPROACH   The process of estimating the value of property by considering the present value of a stream of income generated by the property.

INCOME PROPERTY   A piece of property whose highest and best use is the generation of income through rents or other sources.

INDEPENDENT APPRAISAL   An estimation of value created by a professional, certified appraiser with no vested interest in the value of the property.

INSPECTION   The examination of a piece of property, its buildings or other amenities.

INSURABLE TITLE   The title to property which has been sufficiently reviewed by a title insurance company, such that they are willing to insure it as free and clear.

INTEREST RATE   A percentage of a loan or mortgage value that is paid to the lender as compensation for loaning funds.

INVESTMENT PROPERTY   Any piece of property that is expected to generate a financial return. This may come as the result of periodic rents or through appreciation of the property value over time.

JAMB   The side of a door frame.

JOINT TENANCY   A situation where two or more parties own a piece of property together. Each of the owners has an equal share, and may not dispose of or alter that share without the consent of the other owners.

JOISTS   Horizontal beams laid on edge to support flooring or a ceiling.

JUDGMENT   An official court decision. If the judgment requires payment from one party to another, the court may put a lien against the payee’s property as collateral.

JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE   A type of foreclosure conducted as a civil suit in a court of law.

JUMBO LOAN   A mortgage loan for an amount greater than the limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Often called non-conforming loans.a REMAX logo