Friday, November 30, 2012

Things are improving...

It is hard to keep some perspective on the market nationwide, as we keep our eyes on the ball here in the Silicon Valley. While multiple offers rule here and buyers have a hard time finding, then purchasing a home, it is good to keep things in perspective and look at the big picture.
The market is still struggling, and shaky in some areas.

IMPROVEMENT – As of 9/30/12, 1 out of every 8.5 home mortgages (11.7%) in the USA are either delinquent or are in the foreclosure process. Compared with: 12/31/2009, when 1 out of every 6.7 home mortgages (15.0%) in the USA was either delinquent or was in the foreclosure process (source: MBA Mortgage Bankers Association).

While keeping things in perspective, let us remember too that about 1/3 of all houses in the US are owned free and clear:

According to the National Association of Realtors "Economists' Outlook blog":

Nationally, about 32 percent of homes were owned outright—without a mortgage. This varies from state to state. West Virginia has the highest share of homes owned outright, just 2 percent shy of half. This contrasts with California, Colorado, Maryland, DC, and Nevada where less than a quarter of owner-occupied homes were owned outright.

Thank you for reading!

Coldwell Banker invites you to warm and brighten the spirits of those in our community this holiday season by supporting One Warm Coat, a coat drive that collects and distributes warm coats to the less fortunate in our local community during the cold winter months.

Our office is accepting donations of new or gently used coats for One Warm Coat now until December 14.
To make a donation or for more information, please contact me today.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Time to sell: suggestions for removing the clutter

Ah, time to sell the house, and you are still living in it....  What do you do?

 Well, the house is not “your home” any longer, it is a property that you are showing to the whole world, with the purpose of selling it for the higher price, with the least amount of hassle. Here are a few of my suggestions:

* Money and valuables: Cash, checkbooks, coins, jewelry, watches, figurines, anything of value that is small and can be easily removed: it is best to put all these away. It's just better for everyone if it's out of sight (of course, there are some exceptions, depending on the property). Many people will go through your property, kids as well as adults and their agents. Some items which may not have any monetary value, but are very valuable to you (i.e. sentimental value) are best removed too. Why take a chance?

* Personal photos. In some cases, a few pictures of your family can give a feeling that the house is full of love. But if you have pictures everywhere, it is too much. Buyers really get distracted by them. If buyers spend their time looking at your pictures, they will leave the house not remembering the property so well. I can attest to that.

* Bills and personal papers. You may not be able to remove these documents from the home all together, but it is best to take the time to organize them, and put them out of sight, or show them in an organized way. Bills and papers laying around will attract the buyers’ look – it is almost instinctive, isn’t it? Again, there, it distracts the buyers away from looking at the house.

* Guns, weapons. Wherever they are and with any form they take, it's better to remove them from the home prior to listing. For some reason, I have seen buyers become either very distracted, or uneasy.

* Clothes, Shoes! Unless there is a good reason for it, a pile of shoes or clothes gives a buyer two impressions: 1/ that there isn't enough storage in your home. 2/ that the house is messy. So, in order to avoid wondering which one, on the part of the buyer, it is best to put them away.

* Medicine. To avoid any trouble it's best to simply remove medicine from the counters, the cabinets, the bathroom etc… if at all possible.

* Items on your kitchen counter (and bathrooms too). It is best to remove everything from your counters. The cleaner you can leave the counters, the more buyers dream of being in there. Also, if you store things on the counters it gives the appearance that you do not have enough storage space.

* Clean the drawers. Here too, it is best to show them clear of too much stuff, and organized. A good way to look at things is: you are going to move eventually; why not move stuff in boxes ahead of time? Clean drawers are like clean cupboards: when buyers open them, they feel invited to fill them out with their own stuff. – instead of feeling overwhelmed by the move that will need to take place before they buy the house. Perception is as important (if not more) as reality when you show a house for sale. Perceiving an “easy” move is so much more soothing to the mind than perceiving a mayhem to come.

* Refrigerator. It is really refreshing to walk into a home that has a clean fridge (and I mean: outside). Buyer's can't imagine their own children's drawing on there if it is covered with yours, and/or covered with magnets. Anything that distracts a buyer’s attention from the house is best left out.

* Furniture. Finally, any furniture that is not essential to you should be removed if at all possible. The property will show larger, more spacious, and buyers can better imagine their own furniture in it. This is why houses for sale often have garages full of furniture and boxes. The move has started !... The type of furniture that stays is a whole other subject… leading to the big “S” word: staging.

Thanks for reading!

Non-profit organization worth noting: Partners for New Generations.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Foreclosures... any discount?

This article is an  "a propos" follow up on my last blog.  In this article one can see the actual average discount, according to Zillow, for the various areas in the US.  It does not detail the discount for the Silicon Valley, but it does give the figure for San Francisco.  I believe it may be closer to zero in most of the areas between Los Gatos and Menlo Park.

"Foreclosure discount declines to 7.7 percent nationwide in September"

An analysis by Zillow shows that home buyers nationwide could expect a discount of 7.7 percent in September when buying a bank-owned home compared with the same home in a non-distressed sale.

The discount narrowed from 9.1 percent in September 2011 and has fallen dramatically from a peak national discount of 23.7 percent in August 2009. Zillow compared the actual sale price of foreclosed homes nationwide to the estimated price of the same home were it to sell in a non-distressed transaction.

While foreclosure sales continue to offer buyers discounts over traditional sales in the majority of metro areas, some of the areas hardest hit by foreclosures also are those where the price gap between foreclosed and non-foreclosed homes is the smallest. Areas with the smallest foreclosure discounts in September were Phoenix, 0 percent; Las Vegas, 0 percent; Sacramento, Calif., 0.7 percent; and Riverside, Calif., 1.8 percent.

"The smallest foreclosure discount is found in places where competition for homes is so high, people there are willing to pay the same amount for a foreclosure re-sale that they would for a non-distressed home simply to take advantage of historic affordability," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.

Full article from Zillow.

Thanks for reading!

Silicon Valley real estate
Current Mortgage rates

Non-profit organization worth noting: Partners for New Generations.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are foreclosures good deals?

Are foreclosure sales good deals??

Favorable home prices and record-low interest rates combined with high demand and a severe shortage of available housing have created a highly competitive housing market in California, with nearly six in ten home sales receiving multiple offers, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) “2012 Annual Housing Market Survey.”

More than half (57 percent) of home sales received multiple offers in 2012, the highest in at least the past 12 years, with each home receiving an average of 4.2 offers, up from 3.5 offers in 2011.

Lower priced homes – typically real estate-owned (REO) or short sales – attracted more multiple offers than equity sales ("normal sales"). Seven of 10 REO sales and short sales received multiple offers, while only half of equity sales received more than one offer.  

It is my experience that REO's ( = foreclosure sales) and even short sales, in good areas with good schools, are not bought at a significant discount - if any at all.  On the other hand, in areas which are less desirable, one can find interesting bargains.  As always, where there is more risk, the price is more attractive.
For articles detailing better the draw-backs of such transactions, don't hesitate to send me a note.  - yes, there are draw-backs to REO's and short sales.
Thanks for reading,

A worthy non-profit: CSA

Friday, November 9, 2012

Potential borrowers eager to find lenders with superior service

Potential borrowers eager to find lenders with superior service

A poll by Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group found that more than a third of potential borrowers would be willing to pay a higher rate if the mortgage came with superior service. The survey didn’t say how much more the 34 percent were willing to pay, but it did find that this group is a frustrated bunch.

More than half think the process is too slow. A third find it impossible to track the status of their loan application, an equal percentage say it is too difficult to talk with their lenders, and a quarter don’t believe the advice they’re given.

A starting point for borrowers is to ask their real estate agent which lenders offer the best service. Agents know which lenders keep their promises and close quickly without incident. Another option is to ask friends, co-workers, and relatives about their experiences.

Beyond that, prospective borrowers should look for several attributes that will help them find a responsible company or accessible loan officer.

Borrowers should look for a consistent point of contact. Federal regulators have already settled on this as a requirement for loan servicers – the companies that collect payments, disburse funds to cover property taxes, and homowners insurance and otherwise administer loans.

Dealing with a company that provides up-to-date status information also is beneficial. There’s nothing worse than chasing down an unresponsive loan officer to make sure this document or that report has been received, or to find out whether underwriting has looked at the application.

More on this in this article by Lew Sichelman of the Los Angeles Times


A non-profit worthy of interest: CSA
Collection of food & various items for CSA are made in my office at:
161 S. San Antonio Rd.
Los Altos, CA 94022

Monday, November 5, 2012

2011 vs 2012... 2012 wins.

2011 vs 2012...  

2012 has been a year marked by multiple offers, competitive bids, and rising prices. A seller’s market for sure.
The economy in the Valley is definitely a factor to this situation, as is the lack of inventory – too few homes for sale. There are some short sales and foreclosures, as expected and -alas- promised for the past 2 years. However they are absorbed by a strong pool of buyers, either individuals or investors, who believe in the health and future of real estate in the Silicon Valley.

There is definitely a different trend towards the end of the year, as compared with last year, as evidenced by these graphs that I just made – below we see what last year’s trend was towards the end of the year, and what it is pointing to right now, in 2012:

Thanks for reading!

Current Mortgage rates

A non-profit worth of praise: Habitat for Humanity