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 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.


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:, 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