Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Corner Properties

Some people see a corner lot as an asset, but an equal number believe it is a liability.

Pluses of these properties include more flexible design options, shorter driveways, sunnier interiors, and more on-street parking. The negatives are a small and not-very-private backyard, more noise, more streetlights and headlights, and a greater need to look out for dogs and children.

Additional maintenance demands, which bring higher costs, discourage some would-be buyers of corner properties, said Steve Hovany, president of Schaumburg's Strategy Planning Associates, a real estate planning consultancy.

But some buyers like corner homes anyway. A corner home "is a rare home," said Ray Hartshorne, partner with Chicago's Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. "It's a home that's distinctive in a world that makes distinctive homes more valuable."

Source: Chicago Tribune

Sellers Aren't Cutting Prices

The number of home sellers listing on Zillow.com who lowered their prices in August was unchanged from July, the first time in five months that price cuts weren’t on the rise.

The median price cut was 7 percent in August, unchanged from July, Zillow calculates.

The largest price cuts were in the Tucson, Ariz., and Portland, Ore., metro areas. Home sellers reduced prices 39.5 percent in Tucson and 38.7 percent in Portland.

Source: Reuters News, Julie Haviv

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Most Home Buyers Have No Regrets

A new survey shows that most home buyers have not regrets. To read the article in it's entirety you may click on the following link.

REALTOR® Magazine-Daily News-Most Home Buyers Have No Regrets

Investment Property: Four Considerations

Real estate entrepreneur Ryan Moeller offers these four tips for anyone considering a consumer real estate investment:

1. Don’t count on appreciation. Appreciation is a bonus.

2. Watch the loan-to-value ratio. Ideally, the total cost of the purchase, fees, and repairs should be no more than 70 percent of the appraised value of property in good condition.

3. Maximize annual return. Aim for properties that can be rented for at least 1.5 percent to 3 percent of the purchase price. For example, plan to pay no more than $50,000 for a property that can be rented for $750 per month.

4. Have an exit strategy. Seek properties that are attractive enough to have value no matter what happens to the market – as rentals, for sale to other investors, or for sale to somebody who plans to live there via conventional financing or lease purchase.

Source: BiggerPockets.com, Ryan Moeller (09/01/2010)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Americans Still Want to Own a Home

More than 72 percent of American adults say that home ownership is a part of their personal American dream, down from 77 percent six months ago, according to a survey for Trulia.com.

About 23 percent said their attitude toward homeownership has grown more positive in the last six months, while 19 percent say they feel more negatively.

Among those adults who are renting a home, 27 percent say they never intend to buy. Of the renters who do plan to purchase eventually, 68 percent said it would be more than two years before they do.

The factors that would encourage them to buy now are:

• Able to save a down payment, 47 percent
• Land a new job, 28 percent
• Interest rates stay low or fall lower, 27 percent
• Some other factor that persuades them that buying makes financial sense, 24 percent
• Get a raise, 23 percent
• Local real estate market stabilizes, 9 percent

Source: Trulia.com

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

Serves 4

Hands-on Time: 15m

Total Time: 20m


1 2- to 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
4 cups baby spinach (about 3 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack (6 ounces)
4 large flour tortillas
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup store-bought fresh salsa
1/4 cup sour cream

1. Heat grill to medium. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, spinach, and cheese. Dividing evenly, place the mixture on one half of each tortilla. Fold the other half over to cover.

2. Grill the quesadillas until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve with the avocado, salsa, and sour cream.


Before you grate cheese, coat the grater with cooking spray. It will be easier to use and wash.

Nutritional Information

Calories 776; Calories From Fat 348; Protein 59g; Carbohydrate 47g; Sugar 3g; Fiber 7g; Fat 39g; Sat Fat 15g; Sodium 1044mg; Cholesterol 171mg

Homeownership Falls to Lowest Level Since 1999

The homeownership rate fell to 66.9 percent in the second quarter, down from 67.1 percent in the first quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was the lowest level since 1999.

The homeownership rate reached a record high of 69.2 percent in the second and fourth quarters of 2004.

Rising foreclosures are driving the decline. A record 4.6 percent of U.S. mortgages were in foreclosure in the first three months of 2010, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported in May.

Source: Bloomberg, Kathleen M. Howley (07/27/2010)

Friday, July 23, 2010

California Foreclosures Drop to 3-Year Low

The number of home owners in California entering foreclosure in the second quarter dropped to a three-year low, according to research firm MDA DataQuick.

Default notices, the first step in the foreclosure process, fell 43.8 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.

Analysts say the decline is due to banks pushing loan-modification programs and short sales. Also, fewer homes are underwater thanks to a recovery in home prices, so a smaller number of home owners are walking away.

Ironically, regions of the state where homes are cheapest are most likely to see the highest number of default notices. According to DataQuick, neighborhoods with a median sales price of less than $300,000 experienced 10.6 default notices for every 1,000 homes, while neighborhoods with prices above $800,000 accounted for 2.9 notices for every 1,000 homes.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Frugal Tips for Making a Home More Appealing

Homeowners who want to sell but don’t have a lot of cash to spruce up their properties might consider these tips from Bankrate.com for upgrading a property without spending a fortune.

Polish up the kitchen. Add new cabinet door handles, replace lighting and update the faucet set. Unless the cabinets are mica, give them a fresh coat of paint. Order new doors for kitchen appliances.

Tidy up the bath. Replace the toilet seat. Clean up the floor with vinyl tiles or sheet vinyl applied over the old floor. Re-grout the tub and, if the tub is dingy, add a new prefabricated tub and shower surround.

Paint the walls.

Add closet systems to all the bedrooms, pantry, and entry closets.

Hire a plumber and an electrician to fix anything that is loose or that leaks.

Clean the carpets or, if they are worn, cover them with area rugs.

Replace ceiling lights with inexpensive but attractive fixtures.

Refinish or repaint the front door and replace the hardware.

Mow the lawn, edge the sidewalks, mulch all the beds and put two big planters at either side of the front door.

Source: Bankrate.com

Friday, July 9, 2010

Most Affordable Popular Retirement Locations

The real estate downturn has turned some very popular retirement destinations into bargains.

To determine where the prices are most attractive, U.S. News & World Report examined price-to-income data for 384 metropolitan statistical areas. This expresses the relationship between owner income and home values.

Here are 10 retirement havens where homes are most affordable by this measure:

1. Bend, Ore.
2. Napa, Calif.
3. Fort Meyers, Fla.
4. Fayetteville, Ark.
5. Las Vegas
6. Sante Fe, N.M.
7. Punta Gorda, Fla.
8. Phoenix
9. Santa Cruz, Calif.
10. Burlington, Vt.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, Luke Mullins

For Gen Y, Tiny Is the New Small

Condo and apartment developers in cities nationwide are thinking small in an effort to keep prices low and satisfy Gen Y buyers who are more concerned about location than they are about spacious accommodations.

The more expensive a city, the smaller the new developments. In San Francisco, there are a number of complexes where units range from 250 to 350 square feet. In Vancouver, British Columbia, there is a “micro-loft” building where apartments are 270 square feet.

“For Gen Y, the home is a place to live out of, not to live in,” says John McIlwain, a senior fellow for housing at The Urban Land Institute in Washington D.C. “They don’t think of this as a sacrifice. It’s just their lifestyle.”

Source: MSNBC.com, Jane Hodges

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why Use a REALTOR®?

Many consumers consider selling their home directly but eventually turn to REALTORS®. Smart home sellers realize they need the expertise in pricing their home, making connections with REALTORS® working with buyers, arranging and staffing open houses, and coordinating with other professionals in the sales process.

Only about half of all real estate agents are REALTORS® - the top half, in our not-so-humble opinion. REALTORS® work independently, for small agencies, or for large brokerages. They help people buy and sell residential or commercial properties, vacation homes, and land; they conduct appraisals; they operate in the United States and in other countries; some specialize in auctions; and others are buyer's representatives.

Move or Remodel

Are you considering a move? Check out HouseLogic, NAR's new consumer site, to analyze the pros and cons of moving or staying put, plus lots more information about owning a home.

REALTORS® Are Experts

Eighty-five percent of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home, according to NAR Research, and 79 percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker.

Why Use a REALTOR®?

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Here are 12 ways a REALTOR® will make your home buying or selling experience better.

REALTORS® Are Part of the Community

REALTORS® Work to End Housing Discrimination - during April, which is Fair Housing Month, and all year long. REALTORS® are active members of their communities.

REALTORS® Protect You

Only REALTORS® Follow a Code of Ethics

To be a member of NAR and a REALTOR®, a real estate agent must abide by a set of professional principles and serve clients fairly.

Learn how the Code of Ethics affects everyday real estate practices

Specialty Mortgages: What Are the Risks and Advantages?

A growing number of home buyers are deciding to use one of several new types of specialty mortgages that let them "stretch" their income so they can qualify for a larger loan. Before you decide whether a specialty mortgage is for you, read this brochure.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Victory in Washington DC

Last night, the Senate passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 5569), an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program until September 30, 2010. This will allow transactions to move forward. The bill is retroactive and covers the lapse period from June 1, 2010, to the date of enactment of the extension. NAR members sent more than 250,000 letters to Members of Congress encouraging them to extend the program.

Additionally, Congress passed an extension of the closing deadline for the Homebuyer Tax Credit, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act (H.R. 5623). The extension applies only to transactions that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010, that have not yet closed. The legislation is designed to create a seamless extension; the new closing deadline for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010. There will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law. Extending the tax credit closing deadline will help provide additional stability to real estate markets across the nation.

Our Government Affairs team worked closely with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to enact this important legislation.

NAR is still working on restoring the 502 single-family rural housing loan guarantee program. Language is included in H.R. 4899, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, that is currently in conference between the House and Senate. We expect the House to pass that bill shortly and are hopeful the Senate will do the same when they return the week of July 12. When that bill passes, the program will be restored through the end of the fiscal year.

For additional information on the tax credit extension, the flood insurance program and rural housing, please visit www.realtor.org/government_affairs

Friday, June 25, 2010

Top 10 Fastest Growing U.S. Counties

The fastest-growing counties in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are mostly in suburban areas outside of urban centers.

The census numbers govern the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal money each year.

Here are the 10 fastest-growing counties:

1. Kendall County, Ill. (Chicago), 92.1 percent
2. Pinal County, Ariz. (Phoenix), 89.7 percent
3. Rockwall County, Texas (Dallas), 88.9 percent
4. Flagler County, Fla. (Jacksonville), 83.9 percent
5. Loudon County, Va. (Washington, D.C.), 77.6 percent
6. Forsyth County, Ga. (Atlanta), 77.4 percent
7. Lincoln County, S.D. (Sioux Falls), 70.7 percent
8. Paulding County, Ga. (Atlanta), 67.4 percent
9. Williamson County, Texas (Austin), 64.3 percent
10. Douglas County, Colo. (Denver), 64 percent

Source: CNNMoney.com

Mortgage Rates Hit an All-Time Low

Average interest on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to an all-time low of 4.69 percent this week, down from 4.75 percent a week ago, reports Freddie Mac.

Although rates have held below 5 percent since early May, Michael Fratantoni of the Mortgage Bankers Association notes that demand for purchase loans has fallen in six of the past seven weeks and now is at a 13-year low. Consumers have grown used to low rates, he explains, adding that they balk at buying because they are more concerned about stagnant wages and high unemployment.

Source: Washington Post

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tips for Your Clients Who Garden

Garden improvements don’t have to dig your clients into a deep financial hole. Help them plant a lush yet dirt-cheap garden by passing along 10 tips for saving money in the garden now available in the June “ABCs of Landscaping” article package at the REALTOR® Content Resource. Here are just two of the tips now available on gardening on a budget:

1. Understand your land. Before shelling out money for new plants, look at what has thrived and what has died in your garden over time. If you’re new to the area, ask neighbors with similar growing conditions what has worked for them.

Keep in mind that even plants appropriate for your growing zone might not work in your personal patch, depending on the soil composition, sunlight patterns, microclimate, pests, and available water. Your local cooperative extension service can analyze your soil and recommend amendments and suitable plantings.

2. Avoid invasives. No matter how big your hurry to see your garden fill in, be wary of a plant billed as a “fast grower” or “aggressive.” Often that’s code for an invasive species—a non-native plant that makes its way into the landscape and crowds out the locals by stealing their nutrients, light, and water.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains a list of invasives, which include various ivies, grasses, weeds, vines, self-seeding varieties of bushes and shrubs, even seemingly innocuous herbs like mint. Your county extension service can steer you toward the species best suited to your plot. Tip: If you love growing mint in the garden, contain it in a pot.

Also available in the June “ABCs of Landscaping” article package now available at the REALTOR® Content Resource are tips on saving money with an edible garden, using a calendar for lawn maintenance, landscaping for curb appeal, and seven gardening mistakes to avoid.

The REALTOR® Content Resource, the new tool brought to you by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, is an exclusive NAR member benefit that entitles you to download free homeownership content to your consumer Web site, blog, or e-newsletter. HouseLogic is the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’® no-topic-left-uncovered consumer website geared to helping home owners make smart decisions to maintain, protect, and increase the value of their home.

Source: NAR

Continued Strong Pace for Existing-Home Sales

Existing-home sales remained at elevated levels in May on buyer response to the tax credit, characterized by stabilizing home prices and historically low mortgage interest rates, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Gains in the West and South were offset by a decline in the Northeast; the Midwest was steady.

Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million units in May, down 2.2 percent from an upwardly revised surge of 5.79 million units in April. May closings are 19.2 percent above the 4.75 million-unit level in May 2009; April sales were revised to show an 8.0 percent monthly gain.

Buyers Face Purchasing Delays
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said he expects one more month of elevated home sales. “We are witnessing the ongoing effects of the home buyer tax credit, which we’ll also see in June real estate closings,” he said. “However, approximately 180,000 home buyers who signed a contract in good faith to receive the tax credit may not be able to finalize by the end of June due to delays in the mortgage process, particularly for short sales.

“In addition, many potential sales are being delayed by an interruption in the National Flood Insurance Program. Florida and Louisiana, also impacted by the oil spill, have the highest percentage of homes that require flood insurance.”

As the leading advocate for homeownership issues, NAR is supporting Senate amendments to extend the home buyer tax credit closing deadline through September 30 for contracts written by April 30, and to renew the flood insurance program. “Sales and related local economic activity would have been higher without delays in the closing process or flood insurance issues,” Yun noted.

Housing Still Affordable
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.89 percent in May from 5.10 percent in April; the rate was 4.86 percent in May 2009.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $179,600 in May, up 2.7 percent from May 2009. Distressed homes slipped to 31 percent of sales last month, compared with 33 percent in April; it was also 33 percent in May 2009.

NAR President Vicki Cox Golder said home prices have been stabilizing all year. “With distressed sales at roughly the same level as a year ago, the gain in home prices is a hopeful sign that the market is in a good position to stand on its own without further government stimulus,” she said. “Very affordable mortgage interest rates and stabilizing home prices are encouraging home buyers who were on the sidelines during most of the boom and bust cycle.”

Pending home sales are expected to decline notably in May and June from the spring surge, but Yun added that job growth and a manageable level of foreclosures are keys to sales and price performance during the second half of the year.

Inventory Falling
A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 46 percent of homes in May, down from 49 percent in April. Investors accounted for 14 percent of transactions in May compared with 15 percent in April; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers. All-cash sales were at 25 percent in May, edging down from a 26 percent share in April.

Total housing inventory at the end of May fell 3.4 percent to 3.89 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.3-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with an 8.4-month supply in April. Raw unsold inventory is 1.1 percent above a year ago, but is still 14.9 percent below the record of 4.58 million in July 2008.
Single-family home sales declined 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million in May from a pace of 5.06 million in April, but are 17.5 percent above the 4.24 million level in May 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $179,400 in May, which is 2.7 percent above a year ago.

Single-family median existing-home prices were higher in 16 out of 20 metropolitan statistical areas reported in May from a year ago. In addition, existing single-family home sales rose in 18 of the 20 areas from May 2009.

Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 6.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 680,000 in May from 730,000 in April, but are 32.6 percent above the 513,000-unit pace in May 2009. The median existing condo price was $181,300 in May, up 3.4 percent from a year ago.

By Region
Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 18.3 percent to an annual level of 890,000 in May from a surge in April, but are 12.7 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $240,200, down 2.2 percent from May 2009.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales were unchanged in May at a pace of 1.33 million and are 22.0 percent above May 2009. The median price in the Midwest was $150,700, up 2.2 percent from a year ago.
In the South, sales increased 0.5 percent to an annual level of 2.15 million in May and are 22.9 percent above a year ago. The median price in the South was $159,000, up 1.0 percent from May 2009.
Existing-home sales in the West rose 4.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in May and are 15.2 percent higher than May 2009. The median price in the West was $221,300, up 7.4 percent from a year ago.

Source: NAR

Friday, June 18, 2010

Home Prices in California Jump in May

Median home prices in California rose to $278,000 in May, up 20.9 percent from May 2009, according to MDA DataQuick, which tracks real estate data in the state.

Low mortgage rates and the tax credits encouraged the sales of lower- and higher-priced homes, pushing up the median price, says DataQuick President John Walsh.

Walsh cautioned that there are many homes in foreclosure that haven’t been repossessed by lenders. If lenders take control of these properties and put them on the market, those sales will have a very negative effect on prices, he says.

Source: Associated Press, Jacob Adelman (06/17/2010)

Buyers Drive Hard Bargains in a Tough Market

Unrealistic buyers are ruining the deal for sellers who are unwilling to make extreme concessions, some real estate practitioners complain.

''We see buyers who must have learned their moves from the World Wrestling Federation,'' says Glenn Kelman, CEO of the online brokerage Redfin. ''They think the final smack-down occurs at the inspection, where the seller will be reluctant to refuse any demand because the alternative is putting the house back on the market as damaged goods.''

But buyers say they're simply being smart.

''We had the position, 'If the seller is willing to come down enough, we will buy this home.' If they weren't willing, we would have just moved on. In this market, you have a lot of options,'' says Chris Dunn, a consultant in Chicago, who sought a 10 percent reduction on a property priced at more than $500,000.

Source: The New York Times, David Streitfeld (06/17/2010)

California Economy

California’s economy to see sluggish recovery this year, UCLA economists say East Bay Real Estate.

Los Angeles Times

California’s unemployment rate, currently at 12.4 percent, will not return to single-digit levels until 2012 and the state’s inland areas will continue to be impaired by excess housing inventory and state budget cuts, according to a forecast released Tuesday by UCLA’s Anderson School of Business.


• California’s economic recovery is contingent on consumer shopping behavior nationwide, as retail spending drives traffic at California’s ports and logistics centers, which are both substantial employers throughout the state, the report said. However, consumers are unlikely to increase spending until businesses begin hiring again, which many economists believe will only happen gradually over time.

• The coastal areas of the state will benefit from growth in health care, education, and technology, while inland areas will be constrained by excess housing inventory and state budget cuts, impacting rural inland areas where government workers account for a significant percentage of the workforce, according to the forecast.

• The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) recently issued its mid-year housing market forecast. Based on C.A.R.’s forecast, the median home price in California is expected to rise 9.1 percent this year compared with last year, while sales of existing, single-family homes will decline 4.7 percent. Rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages will rise to 5.3 percent compared with 5.1 percent in 2009 and 15-year mortgages will average 4.2 percent compared with 4.7 percent last year, according to the forecast

To read the full story, please click here:


Monday, May 31, 2010

Stop Point-of-Sale Requirements in Hayward

The Hayward Sustainability Committee is studying a Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance that would requite energy efficiency audits and retrofits when a home is sold. Homeowner education, voluntary programs and incentives are better ways to make homes more energy efficient.

If you're a Hayward REALTOR® or resident, Bay East needs your help.

We need your perspective on the Hayward residential real estate market and how point-of-sale requirements are ineffective and would have a negative impact on home sales.

Please attend the Hayward Sustainability Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 2 at 4:30 p.m. in Hayward City Hall, Room 2A, 777 B Street.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Distressed homeowners no longer have to pay California state income tax on debt forgiven in a short sale, foreclosure, or loan modification. Enacted into law yesterday, Senate Bill 401 generally aligns California's tax treatment of mortgage debt relief income with federal law. For debt forgiven on a loan secured by a "qualified principal residence," borrowers will now be exempt from both federal and state income tax consequences. The existing federal exemption is for indebtedness up to $2 million, whereas the new California exemption is for indebtedness up to $800,000 and forgiven debt up to $500,000.

"Qualified principal residence" indebtedness is defined as debt incurred in acquiring, constructing, or substantially improving a principal residence. It includes both first and second trust deeds. It also includes a refinance loan to the extent the funds were used to payoff a previous loan that would have qualified.

The tax breaks apply to debts discharged from 2009 through 2012. Californians who have already filed their 2009 tax returns may claim the exemption by filing a Form 540X amendment.

Taxpayers who do not qualify for the above exemptions (e.g., second home or rental property) may nevertheless be exempt under other provisions. Most notably, taxpayers who are bankrupt are exempt from debt relief income tax. Also, taxpayers who are insolvent are exempt from debt relief income tax to the extent their current liabilities exceed current assets.

For more information about mortgage forgiveness tax consequences, go to California Franchise Tax Board's Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Extended webpage and the Internal Revenue Service's Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation webpage. The full text of Senate Bill 401 is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov.

Information provided by California Association of REALTORS®

Friday, April 9, 2010

Short Sale Tax Relief Pending

On Thursday, April 8, the California Legislature passed SB 401 which could provide homeowners relief from state taxes on mortgage debt that is forgiven in a short sale. Federal tax laws protect homeowners from being taxed on the "phantom income" that occurs when mortgage debt is forgiven. However, they were still subject to California taxes on this "phantom" income.

According to C.A.R., Governor Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the bill before the April 15 tax filing deadline.

Foreclosure Alternatives Program Launched

On Monday, April 5, banks nationwide began offering the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA). This new federal program will try to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by offering incentives to lenders that offer a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Earlier this week, NAR reported some lenders and loan services have been slow to implement the program or are unaware of its availability.

NAR has prepared resources to help REALTORS® answer questions about HAFA. Their new short sale Web page includes HAFA forms, breaking news and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac real estate commission policies. To learn more about the program, please click here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Governor signs home tax credit bill

Governor Schwarzenegger today signed AB 183 providing $200 million for home buyer tax credits. The bill allocates $100 million for qualified first-time home buyers who purchase existing homes and $100 million for purchasers of new, or previously unoccupied, homes.

Eligible taxpayers who close escrow on qualified principal residences between May 1, 2010 and December, 31, 2010, or who close escrow on a qualified principal residence on and after December 31, 2010 and before August 1, 2011, pursuant to an enforceable contract executed on or before December 31, 2010, will be able to take the allowed tax credit.

This credit is equal to the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,000, taken in equal installments over three consecutive years. Under the bill, purchasers will be required to live in the home as their principal residence for at least two years or forfeit the credit (i.e. repay it to the state). Buyers also must be at least 18 years old and be unrelated to the seller. First-time buyers are defined as those who have not owned a home in the past three years.

To learn more about the California Home Buyer Tax Credit, click here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

NAR official testifies about disaster insurance and FHA changes

NAR Immediate Past President Charles McMillan took the REALTOR® voice to Capitol Hill twice this week testifying before House subcommittees about insurance for natural disasters and the FHA Reform Act of 2010.

On March 10, McMillan was in front of two House financial services subcommittees urging them to create affordable insurance for natural disasters. He explained that property insurance is a key part of the home buying process; the cost of insurance also impacts housing affordability and that high insurance costs for multi-family and commercial properties are passed on to tenants in the form of higher rents.

McMillan suggested several solutions including federal policies that: protect property owners by making insurance coverage available and affordable; ensure that those living in high-risk areas understand their personal responsibility to purchase adequate insurance; support proper land-use decisions and building codes that also allow for local control and reinforce the role of government in maintaining infrastructure such as levees, dams and bridges.

On March 11, McMillan was back on Capitol Hill this time before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity asking Congress to be careful about FHA reform and urging them to make the current conforming loan limits permanent.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

FHA today announced policy changes that will help FHA better manage risk and maintain support for the housing market as well as underserved communities. Check out the HUD press release for more details on the changes to FHA/ http://bit.ly/6ndtdV

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January Message

I am honored and excited to serve as your President for 2010. In the coming year, we will be faced with many challenging situations and opportunities. By working together, I believe we can overcome any difficult task that we might face.

When I was elected, I had very specific goals to accomplish in 2010. I would like to share them with you.

1] Bring members together through communications. We are living in the midst of a technological and informational revolution. There is an abundant amount of data available at our fingertips and it arrives in an increasingly rapid rate. Many times, there is so much coming at us that we become overwhelmed and miss important information. That is why one of my goals is to continue to explore new and innovative ways to effectively communicate Bay East information in a format that is easily understood and accessed.

2] Develop new leadership. In addition to providing resources that could help our members achieve success, we must discover new ways to involve more of you in leadership positions. It has been said that the strength of our association can be found in the wide variety of personalities, talents, backgrounds and experiences reflected in our members. I believe in this statement and have asked our current leadership team to identify future leaders who possess the skills and passion needed to guide Bay East into the next decade.

3] Create a dialogue with our association’s young professionals. Not only are our young professionals the future leaders of our association, they are a resource for information and knowledge. These individuals have openly embraced emerging technologies and incorporated them into their business models. By blending their skills with seasoned agents’ knowledge and experiences, we can all benefit. I will encourage our association to bring these groups together to share ideas and let them work alongside each other when designing our strategic plans and goals.

4] Promote “GREEN” technology and initiatives through Bay East. 2010 brings us the new Bay East GREEN Council whose purposes are to incorporate ecological strategies into the association’s operations; to encourage you to incorporate these concepts into your business practices; to educate the public about GREEN practices and advocate the responsible inclusion of these ideals into local public policy that impacts real estate. I would encourage you to watch for GREEN tips in our weekly communications and incorporate them into your personal and professional lives.

5] Develop and strengthen our relationships with neighboring associations and community organizations. In a time where fast-moving technology binds people across borders and regions, it is becoming increasingly important to realize that interdependence is the foundation for success as an association and real estate professionals. Cooperative efforts such as the new Full Reciprocal Access Network (also known as Quattro) will allow us to access property and listing information in 21 counties and communities in the greater Bay Area and the Central Valley. In 2010, we will continue to forge new partnerships and strength our existing relationships with community organizations and neighboring associations.

In closing, Bay East will remain committed to bringing outstanding products and services that help you succeed and prosper in the coming year. To this end, we are developing new, free real estate applications; instituted cost savings measures throughout the organization; and are currently engaged in looking for further cost savings and efficiencies which will bring our members additional benefits. As part of these efforts, we are studying the feasibility of merging with our neighboring association, the Contra Costa Association of REALTORS®, with whom we have had many successful business partnerships.

We are excited about the opportunities which a merger may present. Cost savings, greater efficiencies, new innovative services, coupled with the programs we offer today would enable us to provide a higher level of service to our members.

During the next few months, we will be doing the necessary due diligence and analysis to determine if there are sufficient benefits to our members in consolidating the two associations. At the conclusion of this phase, your Board of Directors will be able to determine if there are compelling reasons to move forward with a membership vote on merging. Look for more details on this development in the upcoming months.

It takes many stars to create a constellation and each one of you is a shining star. By working together, we can make 2010 a bright and successful year!


I‘m always available to answer your questions. Please feel free to contact me at President@bayeast.org

Major Changes Brewing at FHA

On Friday, Jan. 15 NAR sources in Washington D.C. indicated that FHA is about to announce the following changes to its purchase finance programs.

Borrower Issues:

Borrowers will be unable to finance upfront premiums;
Seller concessions will be reduced from 6% to, possibly, 3%;
Borrowers must have a minimum FICO score and their maximum loan-to-value ratio may be impacted by their FICO score; and Mortgage Insurance Premiums may be raised from their current 1.75% level.

Lender Issues: While the final lender eligibility rule has not been published, NAR is reporting the following proposed changes for FHA lenders:

Increasing net worth requirements of lenders to $2.5 million over the next 3 years; 20% of lender net worth must be liquid assets; and Increased default monitoring by lender underwriters.