Archive for the ‘Rachel LaMar’ Category
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
There is a lot of news out there in the real estate market, and much of it is very positive in pointing toward a market recovery. I am not putting a spin on things – this is what is going on now and the news looks good.
Mortgage Delinquencies Down. The number of mortgage delinquencies is lower than it was back in January of 2010 – 25% lower, according to LPS (Lender Processing Services). What does this mean? Many say this means the market is starting to recover, and they are predicting a decent year for housing. With less delinquencies there will be fewer foreclosures. The states with the highest percentage of non-current loans are Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Illinois. Those with the lowest percentage of non-current loans are North Dakota, Arkansas, Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana. You can read the entire report here.
Mortgage Applications Rise 4.5%. Continuing on with the premise that the market is recovering, mortgage applications are on the rise, according the the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinancing also rose, and with low interest rates continuing it could be a boom to the Spring home buying season. Click here to read the entire story posted by Housing Wire.
Lowest Reported Lender Owned Inventory Since 2007. Lender owned inventory, or REO properties, has dropped 34% since 2010, and is at the lowest rate since 2007, according to a year-end report by Realty Trac. 804,423 homes were repossessed by lenders in 2011.
Fannie Mae Extends Mortgage Forbearance Program for Unemployed Borrowers. Fannie Mae just released new guidelines to help unemployed borrowers. The servicer will reduce or suspend mortgage payments to those who qualify, for a specified period of up to 6 months if requirements are met. At the end of the period the servicer will evaluate to see if the borrower is eligible for up to another 6 month extension. No foreclosures will be filed during these forbearance periods. The program is slated to begin March 1, but servicers are being encouraged to begin helping borrowers right away.
And some California real estate news…
Keep Your Home California Program Adds More Lenders. Keep Your Home California, the program dedicated to helping borrowers avoid foreclosure, has added more lenders to the program roster, bringing the total to 55 servicers who have pledged to assist struggling homeowners. According to a Union Tribune article, the servicers are amongst the biggest names in the mortgage industry, holding 90% of all California home loans. For more information on the program you can visit the website.
Mello Roos Taxes No Longer Deductible. A new tax law will create more tax liability for homeowners with mello roos taxes. Until now, a homeowner was able to deduct his entire property tax bill, including mello roos assessments, from his state income tax. Starting with the 2012 tax bill, the Franchise Tax Board will require property tax bills to be divided into deductible and non-deductible portions. Mello roos taxes will be non-deductible. Since the 2012 taxes are not due for over a year there are groups that will be fighting this tax increase, citing a bad move on behalf of the state in difficult financial times. If the law sticks it could create problems in selling homes with mello roos taxes, leading to losses in property values. We will have to wait and see if the FTB reverses this one.
Sunday, January 8th, 2012
With a new year there are new laws, so here is my annual list of some of the new real estate laws you may want to be aware of going into this new year:
Landlord Right to Prohibit Smoking. California Senate Bill 332 gives landlords the right to prohibit smoking in their residential rental properties, including outside areas. The non-smoking areas of the property must be designated in the lease agreement. Existing tenants must be provided 30 days notice if a landlord wishes to impose these restrictions on current leases. Law effective January 1.
Foreclosure Postponement Notice Requirement. Senate Bill 4 requires specified notices of how to postpone a foreclosure sale be provided to owners who receive foreclosure notices. Lenders seeking foreclosure are required to make a good faith effort to provide such information to those who seek it. Law effective April 1, 2012.
Owners Right to Rent Condominium. Senate Bill 150 allows an owner of a unit in a common interest development to rent or lease out the property despite homeowner rules to the contrary, as long as the rules were not in effect before the owner took title. Law effective January 1.
HOA Restrictions Against Excessive Fees. Senate Bill 771 requires HOAs (home owner associations) to limit the costs of preparing and delivering HOA documents and disclosures. Once the HOA estimates a fee for doing so, and the fee is paid, it cannot tack on unreasonable fees beyond the estimate, nor can it threaten to withhold release of the information to sellers until extra fees are paid. Law effective Januart 1.
Restricting Actions of HOA Boards. Senate bill 563 requires HOA boards to provide at least 2 days notice to owners for HOA meetings, with the exception of emergency meetings. Boards are not permitted to take action on any business items outside of a meeting, with the exception of those that have been delegated to managing personnel or others. Law effective January 1.
School Residency Attendance Can Be Established Via Parent Workplace. Under Senate bill 381, residency requirements for specific school districts may now be established by parent workplace, if at least one parent/legal guardian of the pupil is “physically employed within the boundaries of that district at least 10 hours per school week.” This is determined by the district, and “may” be allowed should the district choose to do so. This law was already in place, but is now extended through July 1, 2017.
Small Claims Court Judgment Increase. Under Senate bill 221, small claims judgments are now increased from $7500 to $10,000 if the claim was brought by a natural person (if brought by a corporation the limit is still $5,000). Law effective January 1.
Real Estate Agent Licensing/Discipline Changes. There are numerous changes to discipline in regards to real estate agents, including those related to license suspension for failure to pay taxes, and the requirement to report any disciplinary actions and escrow activities to the DRE. Senate Bills 53, 706. Laws effective January 1.
For a complete list of all new 2012 laws go to www.leginfo.ca.gov for California laws or http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/ for federal laws.
Friday, January 6th, 2012
Could it be that lenders are starting to cooperate more with short sales? And if so, what does that mean to sellers and buyers? Might short sales get easier and speedier, thereby ridding many markets of distressed inventory and putting them on the road to recovery? This may sound too good to be true, but there are signs that it may in fact be happening.
According to HopeNow, short sales increased last year by 26,000 and foreclosures decreased by 255,000. Both had increased in 2010.
Some major lenders have adopted systems by which to better handle foreclosures, and others have indicated they will be doing the same.
Short sales have always been a mixed bag of emotions. They can be emotionally draining, dragging out the inevitable: loss of a home and all the memories that go with it. But on the flip side, distressed homeowners can avoid the ramifications and stigma of a foreclosure through a short sale. Short sales can usually save something for all parties involved – money, credit, and hopefully sanity.
Here are some benefits of short sales over foreclosures:
For the seller:
1. Less of an impact on credit
2. Can purchase a home again in several years, vs. 7-10 years with a foreclosure
Benefits for buyers:
1. Prices are often lower
2. Buyers usually get all the disclosures and can conduct property inspections (when buying foreclosure properties at auction, buyers often must do so without the ability to view the home and conduct inspections…not to mention all the competition from experienced auction buyers).
Benefits for lenders:
1. Short sales cost less
2. Short sales typically sell for higher prices than foreclosures (they lose money on the subsequent sale)
Benefits for neighborhoods:
1. Short sales tend to sell quicker and for prices more in line with comparable sold properties, protecting values more
2. Lower vacancy rates with short sales, thus less chance for vandalism and maintenance issues (which effect surrounding property values)
So, it appears that lenders, at least some of them, are making efforts to increase cooperation with short sales – we will see going forward if it becomes a reality. I sure hope so.
Monday, January 2nd, 2012
Once in a while a property comes along that is very special…that time has come. Welcome to 4029 Sunnyhill Drive in Carlsbad – a wonderful home on a large half-acre, unobstructed ocean view lot, just moments to the beach, shopping and dining.
- Ocean views! Expanded view potential with second story addition
- Updated kitchen with granite counters, stainless appliances
- Detached guest house and office, plus 3 greenhouses
- Outdoor kitchen with tandoori and pizza ovens, BBQ, kegerator
- Gated property
- Ranch style, single story home
- Large, private lot 23000 square foot lot
- 2565 square feet of living space (guest house and office not included in square footage)
- Resort-like pool and spa, recently resurfaced
- Basketball court, tennis backboard, large grassy area
- Mature landscaping with multiple fruit trees
- Moments to beach, shopping, dining, Carlsbad Village, schools
- No HOA or mello roos
- Carlsbad schools
- MLS number 120000115
To view this property or get more information please contact Rachel LaMar, Broker, at 760-310-9466 or Rachel@LaMarRealEstate.org. Visit property website for photos, information. CA DRE license 01399682. Property MLS number 120000115.
Monday, January 2nd, 2012
Welcome to 243 Azul Way! This new listing in the Pravada neighborhood of Oceanside offers a wonderful floorplan with almost 2400 square feet. With four bedrooms, a downstairs office and a sunny loft, this home has it all.
- 2392 square feet
- Light and bright
- Large living room/dining room combo with cathedral ceilings
- Downstairs office/den
- Upstairs laundry room
- Quaint backyard with stamped concrete
- 3 car garage
- Custom paint
- Fireplace in family room
- Kitchen/family room combo
- Large play area just steps away
- Upstairs loft
- Close to shopping centers
- MLS number 110068185
Located on a quiet cul-de-sac with a community play area, this home is waiting for you! For more details please visit the property website. Please contact Broker Rachel LaMar for more information at 760-310-9466, or Rachel@LaMarRealEstate.org. CA DRE license number 01399682
Monday, December 26th, 2011
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, spent with loved ones, and was able to take a little time off. I rarely do take time off, and these past few days were truly wonderful – just being with my family and not paying attention to my phone or computer. It was well-deserved and much appreciated, and now I am ready to focus on the New Year.
This time of year we typically see lots of advice on how to prepare our businesses and ourselves for the new year, so that we can be more successful. I hope the following will help you to focus on prioritizing, planning and achieving success.
Organize. I know many talented, smart business colleagues who are not reaching their full potential because they are not organized. The clutter in their business lives truly makes it hard for them to drive forward and be the ultimate version of themselves. Organization is so important in business and in all aspects of your life, and there is no time like the present to start. Whether you use programs and apps to keep track of expenses, files, clients, appointments, or plain file folders and tabs and spreadsheets…there is just so much out there to help you get organized.
This could obviously be a post in itself, so I’ll leave it at this: find the way that helps you best, and just get started. Load all your contacts into a program, organize your files, record all your expenses in a program or at least in a folder. Then make lists of all the things you can do to stay organized throughout the year, and stick to it.
Prioritize. I have really been focusing on this task with my middle-school aged daughter, and it is hard to learn. Many of us tend to jump in and tackle things, with no plan. But if you stop and prioritize first, you will make your life a lot easier. Sometimes in business everything can seem like top priority, and this is where you need to take a step back and not let things bog you down. I make a list each morning when I start work of the things I need to accomplish that day, in order of importance. Throughout the course of the day my list might be altered, things will have to be pushed down to the bottom, and others will have to be tabled until the following day. But the fact that I have this list every day makes getting things done a lot easier.
Contact management. This is clearly a must for any business dealing with clients or customers. Staying in contact with these people is not only important, it is the difference between business life and death. Keeping all your contacts in an organized fashion helps you to stay in contact with them, call them, and not forget that they are your most important assets. There are many programs to help you do this, from free (like MailChimp) to expensive (like TopProducer). You can also use spread sheets, but make sure you update them constantly and pay attention to these most important assets!
Blogging. I have written blogs about the importance of blogging, yet many people still do not blog. If it is fear preventing you from doing so, you have nothing to be afraid of. You do not have to be a writer to blog. What you do have to be in an area/field expert – talk about what you know. The more you do, the more you will be seen as an expert, which will drive customers to you. and open up other opportunities. If you don’t like to write you can use video. The important thing is just to do it, and to make your content rich with information – fun, interesting, and informative.
Time management. Your time is extremely valuable. Many of us get so caught up in all the things we have to do that we fail to take care of ourselves, spend time with loved ones, relax…we need all those things! You cannot be successful if you are just a driven machine all the time. Each weekend I schedule all my appointments for the week ahead – business appointments, meetings, classes, and everything else – like picking up my children from school, working out, family time, date night with my husband and personal appointments. If it is in my schedule it is sacred (sometimes things need to be moved around, but I strive to stick to it). If you still can’t do it, you might want to think about hiring an assistant.
The bottom line is that you can be more productive and more successful. Of course, there are other things you can do and you can take things to another level with apps, programs and other ideas, but whatever you do this coming year, try to keep organized, prioritize, and make time for yourself. Have a very happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
I was involved in some communications this morning between agents-members of a social media group called “Raise the Bar in Real Estate,” and we do our best to make this happen. The question came up about buyers and sellers out there do not understand what we agents actually DO. One of my colleagues commented that many buyers think all we are there to do is to help them find a home, and this creates misunderstanding and some negative feelings about our profession.
I have blogged on this topic before, but it is always worth sharing again in order to dispel some of the myths and help people to understand what Realtors truly do every day. Here are some of things agents do in the course of most every day/week:
1. Check on new inventory, visit/preview properties
2. Attend broker caravans
3. Help buyers. Many buyers like to do their own searching, but we still have to keep up with inventory, and familiarize ourselves with what is out there in our local market. We need to find properties, view them. schedule appointments to show them, if necessary. We need to draft offers and explain terms, negotiate on behalf of our buyers on terms and repairs, schedule and attend home inspections and other inspections if necessary, as well as attend final walkthroughs. We need to coordinate with the buyer’s mortgage professional if the buyer is obtaining a loan, and make sure that process is smooth so that we can remove contingencies on time. We need to make sure our buyers are provided all necessary disclosures and paperwork.
4. Help sellers: pre-listing. Listing agents must compile data and create information and presentations to show to potential sellers. This takes hours if the agent does her job correctly. Personally, I take all the information about comps, my marketing plan and other valuable information, and create a visual presentation tailored to the seller’s home, which I will then present to them along with a folder full of printed information specific to listing their home. I then meet with the sellers and present everything, as well as answer questions and listen to their concerns.
5. List homes: This involves more than just signing a contract and sticking a sign in the yard (or, at least it should). Here are some of the things that need to be completed: getting paperwork completed, scheduling professional photography and virtual tours, creating beautiful flyers, placing the property on the MLS, scheduling termite inspections, advertising online and in print, scheduling open houses (it takes me several hours to prepare for an open house, as I have to view comparables and active listings in the neighborhood, and prepare my binders of information -on comps, neighborhood, schools and other area data – to show potential buyers), holding open houses, holding a broker open house (I do so with a catered brunch/lunch).
6. Upon acceptance of an offer on a listing: Present offer to clients, handle negotiations, open escrow, order inspections, provide all disclosures to seller and then transfer to buyer, communicate with escrow officer, mortgage professional, title representative, home inspector, appraiser (and provide detailed analysis of the comps to the appraiser), and the buyer’s agent, to assure all time frames are met and that we stay on schedule for closing. If a short sale or REO (bank owned property) – there is even more involved (see below).
7. Short sales. This deserves it’s own category because of the amount of work involved. Before listing, much work must be done – researching the loans and liens on the property, advising the sellers, providing packets to the sellers to fill out which will be submitted to the lenders, to name a few. Aside from the standard listing work, the agent must communicate with the lender(s), negotiate any pending auction dates to get an extension, and spend a great deal of time presenting information to the lender in the hopes of getting an acceptance of an offer. Throughout this process the agent must keep the sellers and the buyer’s agent informed, and collect any necessary documentation from the lender.
8. Community involvement. This is a category that is imperative. If an agent is not involved in his community, and does not participate in local events, than does he truly know what is going on in the area, enough to sell a home there? Involvement includes keeping the community educated on happenings, both in the national and hyper-local real estate markets. Blogging and video are the best ways to share this knowledge. I personally also teach seminars for distressed homeowners who are facing foreclosure, and have held webinars to train agents in this category, so they are better prepared to help their clients. This part of the job is a constant, and it is how an agent can give back to the community and keep her finger on it’s pulse.
9. Continuing education. Rules and laws are constantly changing, both on a national, state and local level. Realtors must keep up with these, and attend seminars and conferences to learn how to work in this new world with all the changes. These include legal, technological, and ethical, plus local housing restrictions and regulations.
The above is not a complete list of things a Realtor does every day, but I hope that it sheds some light on the demands of an agent. Our job is to help our clients, and to truly do so means to work hard and stay involved.
Friday, December 16th, 2011
In the last several months I have seen my investor clients face some big challenges in purchasing condominiums. I have had two sales almost fall apart in the 11th hour – luckily both buyers were able to close with cash at the last minute. There are a few roadblocks investors need to watch out for if they are considering condo investments.
1. Owner occupancy rates below 51%. This issue is the most frustrating. In order to get a loan a complex must have an owner occupancy rate above 51%. Many complexes in the lower price ranges do not, and they are magnets for cash investors because of the low prices. If your investor needs to get a loan the lender needs to establish the occupancy ratios. The problem is that many times the information from the property management company confirming this is not received in a timely manner.
No matter what the reason, this is becoming a bigger problem for investors who need to obtain loans to purchase income property. I spend a lot of time conferring with my title representative to get owner occupancy information for complexes BEFORE I write offers. But today a mortgage colleague pointed out to me that the title companies may not have the most current information, and that I need to obtain that from the management companies. This creates another issue – many of these companies charge for this information, sometimes around $50. So who is to pay this money – the Realtor, the buyer? What if you have to research 5 or 10 different complexes to find one that will work…this could add up to a lot of money out of pocket.
There simply has to be a better way to find out this information, other than writing an offer and wasting everyone’s time (plus taking the property off the market, which precludes other offers the seller may have been able to obtain during that time).
2. HOA lawsuits. This is another sale killer, and one that an investor client of mine just experienced – luckily she too was able to close with cash. The problem here is when the HOA is named as a defendant in a lawsuit, the lender likely will not issue a loan on the property. In my case, the HOA was suing a former owner for back HOA dues, and he in turn countersued the HOA, claiming it told him his dues would be waived in lieu of doing some construction work on the complex for the HOA. Apparently this was never in writing, so it could be a frivolous suit, but the lender still sees it as a suit against the HOA, which makes it a risky loan. It is unfortunate they cannot look at individual circumstances, but that of course would be time consuming.
3. Too many mortgages. If an investor buyer has several mortgages s/he may have problems with financing a subsequent property. Buyers and agents need to speak with mortgage professionals before writing any offers, to make sure they understand whether they will qualify for another loan. Even so, I had one investor buyer who was told he would qualify, and in the 11th hour it did not work out. You need to be careful and allow time to research these things.
If you are an investor buyer, or if you are a real estate agent who works with one, you need to be careful and discuss these potential pitfalls with your client(s), as they can definitely create problems. Best to be prepared and try to gather as much information as possible before your client makes an offer. If you have any stories of failed investor purchases please share them below.
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
Realtors, like lawyers and car salespeople, have not always had the best reputation (there are those of us who make it our mission to disprove the myths, but I digress). The latest scandal certainly does not help the industry: a report was released today that home sales in the last 5 years were misreported across the country and that the true sales volume is actually lower. Will this hurt the housing market, and how could it happen?
The National Association of Realtors is the agency that keeps track of home sales across the country. Apparently, when tracking the number of resale homes since 2007, some sales were counted twice, and some new home sales slipped into the tally. It all has something to do with relying on census numbers, which only come out every ten years. The Association claims home sales will be unaffected by this mishap.
So the bottom line is that less homes were sold since 2007 than were originally reported. We will have to wait and see the true numbers, and whether it will effect the market at all, although it is doubtful. And no, this appears to be an innocent mis-reporting, not a lie.
Saturday, December 10th, 2011
We have heard news of deed for lease programs rumbling for some time, but Bank of America announced this week that it will begin making them a reality. What this means is that struggling homeowners will be able to turn their deeds over the the bank, and then sign a lease to stay in their homes as renters. There is a lot of controversy over these programs, but lenders are attempting to find ways to avoid more foreclosures and feel this may be one way to do so.
Here’s how the plan would work: the bank would approach troubled homeowners before a foreclosure to see if they would be interested in staying in the home as tenants. The bank would then short sell the home to investors, who would handle the leases. The owners would have less of a credit impact because they would have a short sale instead of a foreclosure, but they would also be able to build up their credit because they would be instant tenants.
Those who are against these programs argue that homeowners, who cannot afford their mortgages any longer, are being rewarded by not having to go through foreclosure and then being able to stay in their homes as renters. [In typical short sales most lenders forbid homeowners to rent back the homes after a short sale because they do not want the homeowner to benefit in any way from the sale.] They are afraid it will encourage many others to do the same.
Those in favor of these programs say that it will prevent so many foreclosures and will help to build the market back up – with less foreclosed properties and vacant properties, values will stop falling. Plus, the lack of vacant homes will strengthen those neighborhoods hard hit by foreclosure.
No matter what side you are on, this is one program that may actually help build the market back up over time, if enough homes can make the cut. It will be interesting to watch and see what happens.