Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

AltCar Expo 2009 in Santa Monica

September 25, 2009

a REMAX logoLola and meAltCarExpo-2009

 October 2-3 10-5pm. free admission, parking fees or better yet take your bike.

Santa Monica Civic Center-Main and Pico

  Fourth Annual City of Santa Monica Alternative Energy and Transportation Expo

Expo exhibitors featuring the most cutting edge options in alternative vehicles, transportation technologies, alternative and renewable energy, bikes, urban planning, mass transportation, tax rebates and credits, and more• AltCar Expo Speakers Schedule including: Peter Ward, CEC Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times Dr. Andy Frank, University of Berkeley Steve Ellis, Honda Dave Barthmuss, GM Tom Gage, AC Propulsion Craig Perkins, Energy Coalition 


• First viewing opportunities of vehicle debuts at the Expo

• AltCar Ride & Drive area for hands-on experience with all technologies. Most vehicles in this area are available for immediate purchase

• Major bike debuts, free bike repairs and free bike valet

• Ecological Footprint charting

• Sustainable Café








Should you buy down your mortage rate?

August 29, 2009

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I found this  article from Shelby Bateson of the Portland Examiner through

With the November 30th deadline for the $8000 tax credit rapidly approaching, buyers are out there scrambling, to buy that first home, and close by the deadline. I’ve heard a few home buyers discussing buying down the mortgage rate to keep the payments lower. But is this a good idea? There is no short answer to this question, because it depends on many factors: 1. How much do you want to buy the rate down? Did you know that buying your rate down 1/8% saves you only $5.71 a month per $100,000 of your loan amount? 2. What is the cost to you to buy the rate down? • This figure has to be quoted to you on a daily basis, and depends on so many factors, it is difficult to imagine. Mortgage rates are based on the yield being paid on mortgage backed securities and 10 year bond yields. • Lenders individually determine the amount of margin they want to make on the different types of loans, and this is based on the above factors, plus the cost of borrowing funds to lend, and the yield their investor will pay, if the loan is going to be sold. All these numbers are fit into a formula and the cost on any particular rate on any given day is determined. • The actual cost is lender specific, because lenders have multiple sources to sell the loan to (such as Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, private investors, other banks), and often pay different amounts to borrow money (based on their size, credit rating, etc.) • To be sure, lenders do shop each other to make sure their rates are competitive, but they do each set their own costs to buy a rate down at any given time. • Some lenders change their rates daily, while others change them frequently throughout the day as the markets change. There are a few lenders (primarily those that keep their loans, rather than sell them, that change rates as infrequently as once a week.) 3. How much will you save monthly, annually, over the term of the loan? It is important to know the cost of the buy-down. Banks don’t lower their rates to accommodate you. They are still looking for a profit, and buy-downs are usually expensive relative to your savings. 4. Are you thinking about a permanent rate buy-down, or one of the more common short term buy-downs? These are usually referred to as 2/1 buy-down, or 3/2/1 buy-down. A 2/1 buy-down actually lowers your rate 2% the first year, 1% the second year, and settles at the “fixed note rate” thereafter. 5. Where is your break-even point? • The “break-even” point is critical in determining whether or not a buy down is a good idea. For example, if you are getting a $100,000 loan with a 1/8% rate savings, you might pay as much as 1 point for that buy down. So, you will pay $1,000 to save only $5.71 a month. It will take you 175.13 months (more than 14 years) to break even. Obviously this is an extreme example, but perhaps not as extreme as you might imagine. • As a general rule, a 2/1 buy-down will cost 2 ½ points. For a $100,000 loan, this is $2,500. Your savings the first year will be $100 per month = $1200. Your savings the second year will be approximately $50.00 month = $600.00. The third year you will be paying the note rate. So your total savings will be $1800 at a cost of $2500. The bank will make a $700 profit on your buy-down. You will never break even. It is a common misconception that a buy-down will allow you to qualify for a more expensive home. If it is a permanent buy-down (where your rate will never increase), this is perhaps the only time that a buy-down might make sense. However, with a 2/1 buy-down, for example, you will have to qualify for the loan based on the highest interest rate (the permanent note rate), so this will not afford you any advantage in terms of “buying power.” In some cases, the cost of the buy-down can be added to the mortgage. But, while this sounds good, the truth is that this actually reduces the savings because your payment amount is now computed on a bigger loan amount, therefore increasing your monthly payment. The other issue here is whether or not your house will appraise high enough to allow the buy-down cost be added to your loan. Remember that the amount of the loan cannot be more than the appraised value, (with the exception of the government insurance premiums that can be added to FHA, VA, and USDA rural loans). Temporary buy-downs, such as the 2/1, can make sense for a young couple for example, just entering the job market with the expectation that their salaries will increase over the 2 years the rate is adjusting. The rationale here is that the higher payment will be more manageable at a later time. This was popular during the housing boom, when prices were rising faster than incomes could catch up, but it’s unlikely we’ll see a boom like that anytime soon. Banks justify the cost of the buy-down because of additional paperwork required. The cost of a buy-down is always computed to the banks advantage, not yours. So why do we keep hearing so much about buy-downs? Why do so many people think this is such a great idea? Remember that when you are looking for a house, you usually determine the “amount you can afford” based on your comfort level with the payment amount. If you can lower your payment, you don’t care about the cost. If your lender is not discussing the cost of the buy down with you in the above terms, and helping you compute your break-even point, perhaps you should be talking to another lender. Good luck out there. Remember, if you find information from this site useful and interesting, why not subscribe? It’s free. Just click on subscribe above and you will start receiving emails notifying you when new articles are posted.

Shelby Bateson

Short sales

May 9, 2009

clip art houseWhat is a short sale?  This occurs when a seller is in finacial straits, is unable to continue making mortgage payments and the existing  loan(s) exceed the value of the property. A knowledgeable agent (me) can assist the owner by marketing the property, entertain offers, prepare a package of documents for the existing lender(s) and negotiate with the lender.  In order for this transaction to close the lender has to agree to pay the closing fees of the seller and take less than is owed on the property.

There can be an outright refusal, the lender may require the seller to kick in some funds or the lender can absorb all of the costs.  When there is a second mortgage; even if it is with the same lender as the first mortgage, both loans have to be approved.    The loans are genreated in different departments.  Many times the first lender will pay the second lender a fee towards their fees, but this is usually a nominal fee, usually about $3,000.  The first lender would pay all of the closing fees for the seller.

It is time to change the name to Long Sales, as it take take many months to negotiate these transactions.  I just closed two transactions that were tied together and it took the seller a year to finally close.  It took my buyer about six months to finally close the deal.  Any time there is any change it has to go back to the negotiator for approval.  In that time frame the buyer can lose faith and go on to another property or if they love the property they can stay with the transaction.  Sometimes the value of the property has decreased and another round of negotiations can begin.  All along there has to be a monitoring of the trustee sale (in California) where the property can be sold to an independent party at the courthouse.  This is also another department. 

 I have had this present transaction trustee sale delayed three times.  The second mortgage wants the seller to put in $4,000 which the seller does not have.  Presently, she is running out of money every month and has no extra money and has maxed her credit cards.    I have requested that the first pay the second more money.  We shall see how it goes.

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Wrote an offer

April 13, 2009

a-remax-logo4Wrote an offer on a condo at 5000 Centinela. This building borders Ballona Creek and the bike path.  It is about 2.5 miles from the ocean.  People are always surprised to see the inside of the buildings.  It is comprised of three buildings shaped like a triangle.  In the center there is the pool, spa, recreation/party room, gym and his and her saunas and baths. Monthly dues are under $300.00.

  We adjusted for the most recent two bedroom in the complex to sell, which closed in early October ’08.  It was on the first floor, this one is on the top floor and faces Ballona Creek and the Santa Monica Mountains.  We compensated for differencs in floors, views, condition and what has happened since the comparable (also know as “comps”) was negotiated, most likely in August, before all of the finance issues that occured.  We will see.

Whole Foods supports KCRW Radio

April 7, 2009

Whole Foods Market is celebrating Community Giving Day, as all L.A. and Orange County stores donate 5% of the day’s net sales to KCRW.

“KCRW shares many of the same values as Whole Foods Market, such as supporting the local community, educating our stakeholders, and an appreciation and love for food and the arts,” said Marci Frumkin, Marketing Director for Whole Foods Market. “We are so proud to be partners in this venture.”

As a company, Whole Foods Market is unique. Team members are part of the local community. They’re passionate about supporting local causes that are important to shoppers and neighbors. Community Giving Day is one very visible way to do this.

We invite you to eat well and show your support for KCRW when you make a purchase at Whole Foods Market tomorrow

Donna Benton

Donna Benton


Meet the Boss

April 7, 2009

Donna Benton

Donna Benton





As you may know, Bruce will be playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on Wednesday, April 15 and Thursday, April 16. For each of these performances, he has offered the Foodbank a VIP Ticket Package that includes 4 prime seats and a meet and greet with Bruce. Bidding starts at $10,000, and Bruce has agreed to match the highest bid for a ticket package up to $50,000.


With demand for food assistance at its highest level in years, the Foodbank is hoping to take full advantage of this fantastic fundraising opportunity. We are reaching out to a select few of our closest supporters to see if they want to bid on the tickets.


Now through Wednesday, April 8th, the Foodbank will accept bids for each ticket package by email at the email addresses below. Interested participants should submit their highest bid by 3pm on Wednesday, April 8th


Click here to for bidding information


Drop of water

April 7, 2009
Donna Benton
Donna Benton


Home Buyer’s Fair

April 6, 2009


Mark your calendars, April 18th and 19th, for the Home Buyers Fair at the Los Angeles Convention Center sponsored by The California Association of Realtors® and the Los Angeles Times.


Saturday, April 18, 10-5

Sunday, April 19, 11-4

 Dozens of seminars and loads of exhibitors.  It is informative for first time home buyers, investors, and anyone interested in buying a new home.

 Did I mention, it’s free?  Except for parking.


Donna Benton
Donna Benton


Water heater safety

April 6, 2009


 Taking a few simple precautions can help keep your family safe.

 Never use or store flammable products, such as gasoline or paint thinner, near your water heater. Always keep the surrounding area clean and well ventilated.

Some water heaters must be installed at least 18 inches above the floor. Check the manufacturer’s instructions or local building codes to confirm installation requirements.

To avoid scalding accidents, set the water heater thermostat at or slightly below the temperature recommended by the manufacturer.

To keep your water heater an-chored during an earthquake, strapit firmly to the wall studs. Kitsand instructions are availableat most hardware stores. Find more safety tips at

From Southern California Gas Company

Donna Benton 310-398-2332

Donna Benton 310-398-2332





Blue Heron babies in Marina del Rey

April 6, 2009

blue-heronI saw 2 heads in the nest yesterday.  Later that day, I saw a body.  Not sure if it was a parent or a baby.  The Blue Heron is a large bird.  Sometimes I see them fishing along the Ballona Lagoon.  Along with Cranes, Egrets, Cormarants.   The other nest is quiet.



Donna Benton 310-398-2332

Donna Benton 310-398-2332