Vallejo Is The Hottest Real Estate Market In The USA

It’s February 2017 and once again VALLEJO CALIFORNIA is the #1 Hottest Real Estate Market in the USA!

The National Association of Realtors just released the list of

America’s Hottest Real Estate Markets for February 2017

Once again the Vallejo California area (with Fairfield right next to it) is at the nation’s top spot. There are several factors are affecting this such as low inventory, relatively low prices compared to neighboring areas like San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, San Jose, etc. of Northern California in the SF Bay Area and as Realtor.com says the median days on market. Homes are selling fast, over the listing prices and getting multiple offers. Buyers are often times forced to agree to higher earnest money deposit funds, shorter (or no) contingency periods such as inspections, investigations, appraisals or loans, if possible, in order to beat out other offers.Image titleTiming is a key factor in today’s hot market so if you’re really serious about purchasing your home, you better be either proving that you’ve got the cash to do it, proving that you’re pre-approved, and ready to move fast with a fair or even excellent offer that is sometimes way over what the sellers are asking.

I know it doesn’t make sense to many and it’s hard to trust, but I’ve put in 19 offers for one client (most of which were great offers over asking) due to other offers higher and/or better than theirs. This is especially true in the lower priced homes, such as those in the $250,000-$450,000 price range. Other homes in the higher price ranges typically take more time to sell for various reasons.

In the luxury real estate market, most tend to sit one the market because there are fewer people able to purchase in those price ranges, depending upon the area. In San Francisco they are still selling pretty fast, but in the Vallejo – Fairfield area there are a lot more homes in the lower price ranges. The luxury markets of Solano County are spread out and there are some nice places in Vallejo (like Hiddenbrooke and a few others) but one of the best is in Fairfield, in a gated community called Eastridge, in Green Valley. There are a couple of builders that have done some of the custom luxury homes there and one has just sold pretty much all of their homes and are just about ready to sell their final one along with their model home. They were typically ranging from 3000-6000 square feet, offering little in the way of landscaping, pools, etc. Other homes built in the last 10-15 years in the area offer more mature landscaping and some have pools, hot tubs, pool houses, basketball courts, etc already.

One of my featured listings in the SF Bay Area is 5240 Sunridge Drive, Fairfield, CA 94534. Here is some more info about it and this highly desired area of Northern California. Fairfield is just east of Vallejo, and is often included in the hottest market with Vallejo (Vallejo-Fairfield-Suisun City).

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This is truly an Amazing Custom Luxury Home. It is located in the Exclusive Gated Community (with Guard) in Northern California called Eastridge! It offers a heated black bottom swimming pool with waterfall, a spa and cabana/pool house w/ full bathroom and changing area plus a room for storing all of your favorite pool toys. The outdoor pool area sunbathing chairs as well as the outdoor patio furniture is included. While entertaining your guests near the backyard paradise with built in bbq and wet bar, you can easily go swimming or shoot some hoops or watch your family or friends do so. It has two Master Suites- one up & one down.

The Gourmet Kitchen has a walk in pantry, professional Viking dual oven with gas stove and a pot filler plus an awesome hood vent. It even has food warming trays on the kitchen island, and two sinks to make cooking, prepping and cleaning much simpler. There are granite slab counters & many ameImage titlenities like a dishwasher, garbage disposal, breakfast area, built in fridge, microwave, and a really nice breakfast area overlooking the backyard, in addition to the formal dining room and climate controlled wine room nearby. From the breakfast area and kitchen you can easily see the Basketball court, tetherball pole and garden area.

Downstairs also includes 2 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms, an office, living room (with grand piano that you can play or let it play itself) and the 4 car oversized garage with mud room and storage. The main master suite downstairs has a nice sitting area, fireplace, walk in closet, access to pool/spa area, and the master bathroom includes a jetted tub, walk in dual shower, and dual vanities.

Upstairs has 3 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, plus a Home Theater with projector, surround sound and theater seating and a Game Room with a pool table, poker table, wet bar, patio, slot machines, and more is included (tv/speakers/fireplace/views/etc).

Image titleThe property has mature landscaping, lots of trees including some fruit trees, and has a lot of stamped concrete areas like patios, walkways and the driveway.

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The Green Valley area is an ideal location as it is situated in the middle of San Francisco, Wine Country, Silicon Valley, and Sacramento with easy access to many freeways such as the 12, 80, 680, etc. There are many great places to shop nearby as well as awesome entertainment like golf courses and much more. The schools are highly ranked in the area and it’s a very enjoyable place to be. Several properties are available in this area but this is perhaps the best. In the Green Valley area there are some nice golf courses and also a wonderful area with volcanic-rock hills with many trails & a grass valley for nature-watching hikes, bike rides & scenic views called the Rockville Hills Regional Park.

Rockville Hills Regional Park has over 600 beautiful acres of grasslands and oak woodlands, with a dense mixed broadleaf forest. Part of the park actually goes through the Eastridge community so residents are able to easily access it and enjoy the rich, biological and diverse habitats which provide shelter to a variety of wildlife that make the park their home. Green Valley has a nice mix homes, condos, land, commercial properties, stores, wineries (just 30 minutes or less to Wine Country), etc, all spread out appropriately. This is in Fairfield California, close to great schools, shopping, entertainment and major freeways. Some of the nearby cities we cover and also nearby cities and areas are: Vallejo, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fairfield, Dixon, Davis, Napa, American Canyon, Danville, Suisun City, Concord, Santa Rosa, Vacaville, Benicia, Hiddenbrooke, Glen Cove, Vallejo Heights, Martinez, Richmond, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Novato, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Sonoma, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Berkeley, San Jose, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Alameda, San Leandro, Hayward, Union City, Livermore, Milipitas, San Mateo, San Rafael, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Cupertino, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Daly City, Elk Grove, Fremont, Lake Tahoe, Castro Valley, San Ramon, Alamo, Clayton, Blackhawk, Sausalito, Belvedere, Tiburon, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, Crockett, Mill Valley, Fairfax, Ignacio, Corte Madera, Green Valley, Yountville, Saint Helena, Rutherford, Glen Ellen, Lake Berryessa, Yosemite, Travis Air Force Base, Mare Island Navy Base (closed), Rio Vista, Stockton, Modesto, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Emeryville, Piedmont, Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette, Alamo, Whispering Pines, Hobergs, Adams, Loch Lomond, Harbin Springs, Middletown, Hidden Valley Lake, Castle Rock Springs, Aetna Springs, Glenview, Lower Lake, Siegler Springs, Howard Springs, Geyersville, Simi, Clearlake, Healdsburg, Calistoga, Asti, Cloverdale, Preston, Windsor, Roseland, Ukiah, Woodland, and a bit further away but still within a day’s drive to other great places like Las Vegas, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, San Diego, Reno, Roseville and more. Since it’s such an awesome property in so great of a location, Call now to get more information, set up a showing or to put in your offer.

All of this is in a safe, peaceful area on a Huge 2/3 acre lot. 

This is a Must See, especially if you love entertaining. 

Contact Scott Brown to purchase one of the best homes available for sale in Northern California today!

To read the full list and article regarding the hottest real estate markets go to

http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/americas-hottest-real-estate-markets-february-2017/ 

If you are looking to buy or sell any property in the San Francisco-Vallejo-Santa Rosa-Bay Area, contact me at 707-474-8855 or message me here to let me know.

#USAHouses

#VallejoRealtor

#EXPRealtyIsNowHiring

Vallejo California And The San Francisco Bay Area Are The Hottest Real Estate Markets

Vallejo California tops America’s 20 Hottest Real Estate Markets for June and July 2016. 

As far as luxury real estate around the world goes, San Francisco, California is ranked the 5th hottest (Auckland New Zealand leads that global list). While slowing down slightly, the luxury market in San Francisco is still one of the strongest in the world, with a median home price of around $1.1 million. Interestingly enough, 115 San Juan Avenue in San Francisco is currently listed by Scott Brown of eXp Realty for a cool $1.1 million as well. It’s located in the wonderful neighborhood of Mission Terrace, close to Balboa Park, City College and much more. A booming tech economy has been attributed to creating this huge demand of homes, where listings are still scarce.
Vallejo is just 30 miles NorthEast of San Francisco, and was the first capital city of California. San Francisco switched from the number 1 spot in May with the #2 hottest real estate market in the USA, Vallejo. Vallejo held the #1 spot for at least 2 months now, according to Realtor.com’s articles. Vallejo almost doubled in many of its lower home price ranges for values over the past 3 years, and they’re still only approximately at the 80% mark for previous peaks.
Vallejo is the largest city in Solano County, California, United States. The population was 115,942 at the 2010 census. It is the tenth most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is located on the northeastern shore of San Pablo Bay. Vallejo is named for General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, a native Californio, leading proponent of California’s statehood, and one of the first members of the California State Senate; the neighboring city of Benicia is named for his wife, Francisca Benicia Carillo de Vallejo.
Vallejo is home to the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park, the now-defunct Mare Island Naval Shipyard, and the regional office for Region 5 of the United States Forest Service. The colleges and universities in Vallejo are California Maritime Academy, the Vallejo Center campus of Solano Community College, and Touro University California.
Ferry service runs from a terminal on Mare Island Strait to San Francisco, through the BayLink division of SolTrans. Vallejo has twice served as the capital of the state of California: once in 1852 and again in 1853, both periods being brief. The State Capitol building burned to the ground in the 1880s and the Vallejo Fire Department requested aid from the Fire Department at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. As there were no bridges at that time, the Mare Island Fire Department had to be ferried across the Napa River, arriving to find only the foundation remaining. This was the first recorded mutual aid response in the state of California.

Scott Brown’s branch office location of EXP Realty is located in Vallejo on Sonoma Blvd at the corner of Reo Alley. EXP Realty is now in most US states and also in Canada. For the local brach of Scott Brown, we’ve got a main branch office in downtown Vallejo California with others throughout the Bay Area. For the Scott Brown Team, the areas we cover and also nearby cities and areas include at least: Vallejo, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fairfield, Dixon, Davis, Napa, American Canyon, Danville, Suisun City, Concord, Santa Rosa, Vacaville, Benicia, Hiddenbrooke, Glen Cove, Vallejo Heights, Martinez, Richmond, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Novato, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Sonoma, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Berkeley, San Jose, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Alameda, San Leandro, Hayward, Union City, Livermore, Milipitas, San Mateo, San Rafael, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Cupertino, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Daly City, Elk Grove, Fremont, Lake Tahoe, Castro Valley, San Ramon, Alamo, Clayton, Blackhawk, Sausalito, Belvedere, Tiburon, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, Crockett, Mill Valley, Fairfax, Ignacio, Corte Madera, Green Valley, Yountville, Saint Helena, Rutherford, Glen Ellen, Lake Berryessa, Yosemite, Travis Air Force Base, Mare Island Navy Base (closed), Rio Vista, Stockton, Modesto, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Emeryville, Piedmont, Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette, Alamo, Whispering Pines, Hobergs, Adams, Loch Lomond, Harbin Springs, Middletown, Hidden Valley Lake, Castle Rock Springs, Aetna Springs, Glenview, Lower Lake, Siegler Springs, Howard Springs, Geyersville, Simi, Clearlake, Healdsburg, Calistoga, Asti, Cloverdale, Preston, Windsor, Roseland, Ukiah, Woodland, and a bit further away but still within a days drive to other great places like Las Vegas, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, San Diego, Reno, Roseville and more. Call us if you are in these areas or any other and we’ll be happy to help you or connect you with the right person who will.

If you’re interested in working with EXP Realty then you should check out http://scottbrown.exprealty.careers/ and contact us today.

Thank you very much!

Scott Brown

Realtor®, MBA & Real Estate Broker

2619 Sonoma Blvd. Vallejo, CA 94590

Solano, Napa, Marin & Sonoma Counties & Beyond the San Francisco Bay Area

www.USAHouses.com

707-474-8855 office

707-567-8779 cell

I’m Scott Brown, Realtor & Real Estate Broker who owned my own company, but now am part owner of eXp Realty as all agents/brokers/stockholders are. I was formerly known by Scott Brown Realty and then also my dba American Platinum Realty, but in May 2016 I decided to align myself with eXp because it is a company that shares my same vision, passion and values but has a much more advanced leveraging system and platform than I had on my own. If you’d like to know more about that, please feel free to ask me about it and I’d be happy to tell you more! If you know of a Realtor that doesn’t currently have an incredible retirement plan in place along with top notch tools, support and compensation, please have them connect with me as well and they’d most certainly thank you for letting them know about this incredible ground floor opportunity.

eXp Realty – Residential, Luxury, REO & Commercial – The Future of Real Estate

  • 80-20 commission splits with a 16k cap

  • Stock bonuses for 1st transaction, more for capping

  • Revenue sharing for sponsoring agents, plus stock bonuses too

  • Training, Technology, Support & Top Tier Tools, including Kunversion lead generating website

  • Option to purchase stock at discounted prices

To learn more about EXP Realty you can go to http://www.scottbrown.exprealty.careers and/or click on the own your own career link.

January 2015 News Letter

January 2015 news letter

 

Window Treatments for Glass Sliding Doors Offer Several Options

Window treatments for glass sliding doors allow you to view the beauty of nature while protecting you from the elements. These window treatments let you control light, but should also be easy to operate. Sliding glass doors may be an attractive and efficient way of letting light and air into your home, but they’re also a big source of heat loss. Additionally, if you don’t have the right window treatment for glass sliding doors, they can be an eyesore and lead to an unattractive décor.

Some main considerations when choosing window treatments for glass sliding doors are how much traffic the door causes and how much light you want to receive through the glass. Additionally, working with sliding glass doors requires a good sense of design and proportion. Some rooms can use the sliding doors as a focal point, while other rooms are thrown off balance if they already have a major design feature, such as a fireplace or a cathedral ceiling.

If your doors are the focal point of a room, there are several ideas to try. An elegant solution is a Japanese wood and rice-paper screen called shoji screens. If you’re willing to put in a bit more time and effort, you can have sliding shoji doors mounted on your sliding glass ones. This imparts the look of shoji on the inside and the practicality of glass on the outside. Another option would be to create your own shoji screen out of semi-transparent or translucent fabrics stretched over a wooden frame, resulting in a look that is a cross between quilting and stained glass.

If you prefer a subtle, updated look to your window treatments for glass sliding doors, consider Vertiglide shades, which move horizontally along a track. However, if you like unfiltered light and privacy is not an issue, treat your glass doors like a window and mount a swag over the top. Or check out indoor shutters for an oversized, playful look. Fabric panels are also a popular choice, and sheer fabrics will give the room a sense of spaciousness. Vertical blinds allow complete light control and operate very easily. Choose metal blinds with small slats sizes for a contemporary, clean appearance. Another option is pleated shades or small cell honeycomb that impart an elegant look.

Finally, you can conserve energy and save money with window treatments for glass sliding doors. A simple and effective way of keeping the cool in and the heat out is to shade your windows from the sun. The most effective way to do this are external shading devices that reduce heat before it penetrates the glass, such as small aluminum louvers, fiberglass mesh, or tough metalized polyester film laminated to vinyl shade screens. Although interior shades are not as effective, they do block a certain amount of the sun’s heat.

Removable window treatments for glass sliding doors will allow you to let sunlight and solar heat into your home in the wintertime. These environmental-friendly treatments will also save you money on heating bills. Your glass sliding doors may be just right for your room, but there are times when you’ll have to make up for their shortcomings in terms of appearance with the way you cover them. As you can see, you have more options than you may have realized.

Which is the Best Season to Sell Your Home?

Realizing the time has come to sell your home can create a lot of confusion. Timing is everything in real estate; however, some also believe one season is better than another to sell your home.

If you ask a real estate professional when you should sell your home, most will say, “Now is the best time to sell your home”.

Real estate today is a year-round business, and most agents will agree that they do nearly as much business in December as in June.

If that is the case, then how do you decide which is the best time of year to list your home? Each season has its own characteristic. Let’s review each one.

According to most real estate professionals, spring is the busiest time of the year for buyers and sellers — spring offers the opportunity to showcase their home at its best. There’s always something nice about listing your home when it’s not too hot or too cold out and the air is fresh.

If you have a green thumb, summer might prove to be the best time to show off your garden. Potential buyers come through houses looking for such amenities as a well-cared-for garden. Also, if your kids are away for the summer, you might be able to keep their rooms clean from one showing to another. If you have central air, this season is also a great time to show it off. This is also a great time to boast about any access to summer recreational activities such as a beach, a lake, or community tennis courts or swimming pools.

A potential downside to showing a house in the summer is that most kids are home, and you’ll have to work harder to ensure their rooms are maintained clean enough for buyers to get through them.

Even though falling leaves could make for extra work in the fall, with children back at school, daytime showings might be easier to accommodate. The tax benefits of home ownership can be a push for homebuyers to get into a new home by December 31.

Fall is historically a shorter selling season. A home that doesn’t sell in the fall can be stigmatized as being held over on the market until the New Year. An old listing number in the MLS can give buyers the misleading impression that a home has been on the market for a long time and the seller might be willing to accept a lower offer.

Real estate professionals agree that only the most motivated buyers and sellers are active in the market during the winter season.

If you decide to sell your home in the winter, expect the unexpected. You will come across buyers who want showings at odd hours, or during your family holiday parties. At this time of year, you can expect potential buyers to track mud, snow, and salt through your home

In conclusion, how do you decide which is the best season to sell? As discussed, every season offer some plusses and minuses. If you want to list your home in the spring, you might want to list in mid-January, rather than waiting for February or March. On the other hand, you might get even more attention if you wait until mid-March, when many of the spring houses have already come on the market and buyers are hungry for something new.

Real estate is an industry of immediacy. It’s always a good time to sell your home if the price is right, no matter what the season.

Tips for Single Homebuyers

There are probably few things in life that are as exciting–or as nerve- racking–as the search for a house. With an organized home buying plan, you can minimize a great deal of the emotional impact. By determining your buying power, your wants and needs, and having an organized search plan, your chances of a stress-free experience are much better.

Certain types of homes may appeal a bit more to some single homebuyers. For example, since most of the maintenance will be done by one person rather than two, many single buyers prefer homes such as townhouses and condominiums where some or all of the exterior maintenance, landscaping, snow removal, etc. is handled by the homeowner’s association. In addition, some single buyers prefer the community aspect of these types of homes and the sense of safety that may be conveyed by having neighbors close at hand.

Many single homebuyers are single parent families, and a common mistake made is to tailor their purchase too closely to their current needs and not enough to future resale. For example, a one bedroom, two-bath single-family home with a huge great room and kitchen may be perfect for you, but it could be next to impossible to sell. It would be far better to have an additional bedroom or two sit empty (use as an office, exercise room, etc.) than to not have it at all.

Gertrude Singer, a real estate agent with National Realty in Palm Bay suggests that single buyers consider a few issues when preparing for and purchasing a home. According to Singer, the single homebuyer should

  • Run before walking. This is easy to do once the decision to buy a home has been made. It means rushing off looking at homes, surfing the web or calling on advertisements before doing some up-front preparation.
  • Don’t over-buy the first time. A large and beautiful home with little or no furniture tends to be empty and cold. A life where almost every dime of your earnings goes to the support of your house wears thin very quickly and is a frequent cause of family stress. Leave yourself some breathing room!
  • Compare mortgages. Don’t simply accept the first plan presented to you. Spend time comparing to get the most advantageous plan for your requirements and financial situation
  • Get mortgage pre-approval. Pre-qualification and pre-approvals are a necessary part of the home buying process. Not only will it give you an exact price range for your purchase, pre-approval will add a great deal of strength to your offer
  • Don’t wait for the “perfect” home. Many first time buyers make the mistake that they will, if they look around long enough, find a home that has a full 100% of their needs and wants. Instead, it makes sense to determine the most important of your needs and the most desired of your wants and selecting a home that meets the majority of them.
  • The inspection process. This can involve skipping a whole house inspection completely in order to save the relatively small amount of money involved, or it may involve using a friend or relative with limited experience to conduct the inspection. In either case you run the risk of not exposing potentially expensive–or even hazardous–defects in the property. Protect yourself by investing the $200 to $500 for a professional inspection.

John Kuehne, a real estate agent with Pruitt Real Estate, Inc., advised that once the decision to buy a home has been made, you take the time to prepare before you go on your home search.

  • Get your financial house in order first!
  • Determine what your budget will comfortably allow and stick to it.
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
  • Get familiar with the different housing types available to narrow your search.
  • Determine your minimum requirements as well as any desired additional features-your needs and wants.
  • Take note of any items that you don’t want in a house.
  • Determine the desired location (schools, work, public transportation, etc.)
  • Choose an agent that you feel comfortable with and who understands your needs.

Kuehne also suggests that as you are searching, you use a scorecard to compare homes. “A scorecard is a great tool when it comes time for comparisons (and for remembering which home had which features).”

If you ever wish to buy or sell property please let USA Houses experts with Scott Brown Realty know.

California Association of Realtors December 2014 Newsline

Buying Twice as Affordable as Renting
Webinar: Make C.A.R. Content Work for Your Marketing
Majority of Home Buyers Unaware of Down Payment Assistance Programs
Freddie Mac Announces Holiday Eviction Moratorium
C.A.R. applauds Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s 3 percent down payment option
Additional stories


Majority of Home Buyers Unaware of Down Payment Assistance Programs
Although there are hundreds of millions of dollars available for down payment assistance, 70 percent of U.S. adults are unaware of these programs for middle-income home buyers in their community, according to findings from the second annual America at Home survey commissioned by NeighborWorks America.

NeighborWorks organizations provided 6,000 people with more than $100 million in such assistance last year, and expect to make even more available this year.

Down payment assistance is especially helpful for home buyers who are unsure about affordability because of student loan debt.

C.A.R. offers a resource to help buyers find down payment assistance programs. In California alone, there are more than 300 homeownership programs available, including direct down payment and closing costs assistance as well as mortgage credits of up to $2,000 for the life of the loan. Visit downpayment.car.org to see if your clients qualify.

C.A.R. applauds Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s 3 percent down payment option
C.A.R. recently issued the following statement in response to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s move to lower down payments to as little as 3 percent for first-time home buyers and permit refinancing borrowers to reduce equity to 3 percent to cover closing costs.

“C.A.R. commends Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for expanding access to credit for well-qualified first-time buyers struggling to enter the housing market,” said C.A.R. President Chris Kutzkey. “Saving enough money for a down payment is the biggest hurdle for most first-time home buyers, but this program will help remove that barrier, and at the same time, lenders can be assured they are providing a safe, affordable loan to creditworthy borrowers.”

Mortgage Delinquency Rate Continues to Drop Across All Age Groups
The mortgage delinquency rate (the rate of borrowers 60 days or more delinquent on their mortgages) declined for the 10th consecutive quarter to 3.46 percent at the end of Q2 2014, according to TransUnion’s latest mortgage report. The mortgage delinquency rate has declined nearly 20 percent in the last year (down from 4.32% in Q2 2013).

TransUnion data indicate that declines in the mortgage delinquency rate are occurring across all age groups. The youngest mortgage borrowers, those below the age of 30, have both the lowest mortgage delinquency rate (2.34 percent), and have experienced the steepest decline in the last year (down 28.6 percent). However, this age group also represents a small share of all mortgage accounts — 4.16 percent.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia experienced declines in their mortgage delinquency rates between Q2 2013 and Q2 2014. Most major markets also saw yearly drops in their mortgage delinquency rates, including: San Francisco (-29.3%), Phoenix (-28.7%), Miami (-26.7%), Los Angeles (-24.1%), and Chicago (-20.6%).
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New Free Member Benefit for 2015
zipForm® Mobile gives you access to your zipForm® account from a tablet or smartphone. You can quickly add, edit, view forms, create new transactions and apply templates. With TouchSign™ you can have clients sign directly on your tablet! zipLogix Digital Ink® and DocuSign® are integrated into zipForm® Mobile, making it easy to send your documents off for digital signature.

Beginning January 2015, zipForm® Mobile will be free for all C.A.R. members. C.A.R. knows the importance of being mobile and keeping you connected to important contracts anywhere your schedule takes you! Visit More info

Buying Twice as Affordable as Renting
It’s more affordable to buy a home now in most U.S. metros than it was 15 years ago, according to an analysis of third quarter income and home value data by Zillow. Renters, however, continue to pay an increasing share of their income to their landlords as rents soar and incomes remain flat.

On average, U.S. home buyers making the nation’s median income and purchasing the typical U.S. home spend 15.3 percent of their income on their monthly house payment, down from the historical norm of 22.1 percent during the pre-bubble period from 1985 to 1999. On average, U.S. renters spent 29.9 percent of their monthly income on rent in the third quarter of 2014, up from 24.9 percent historically.

Continuously rising rents across the country could drive more people into the home-buying market, but they also make it more difficult for first-time buyers to save for a down payment.
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Are you currently paying for an email marketing system? Why not try C.A.R.’s version for FREE? ClientDIRECT® can help you stay in touch with past and future clients. Click here to get started today!

Webinar: Make C.A.R. Content Work for Your Marketing
Join C.A.R.’s Chief Technology Officer, Josh Sharfman, on Thursday, Dec. 18, at 10 a.m., for the second webinar in the Tech & Tools in 30 webinar series, “Making C.A.R. Content Work for Your Marketing.”

Attendees will learn the best uses for the content they receive from C.A.R. within their own marketing channels.  Learn how to reuse the “One Cool Thing” infographics, reference and use the advertising campaign, reuse C.A.R.’s full motion graphic videos, and much more.
Register now
Did you know your C.A.R. member benefits save you more than $8,000 per year with products and services like FREE zipForm® accounts, FREE e-signatures, and FREE legal advice? See the Big List of member benefits>

Freddie Mac Announces Holiday Eviction Moratorium
Freddie Mac recently announced a nationwide suspension of eviction lockouts between Dec. 17, 2014, and Jan. 2, 2015. The moratorium applies to all foreclosed occupied single family homes and 2-4 unit properties that had Freddie Mac owned-or guaranteed mortgages.

Important facts about the moratorium:

  • The holiday suspension will apply to eviction lockouts on Freddie Mac-owned REO homes but will not affect other pre- or post-foreclosure activities.
  • Companies managing local evictions for Freddie Mac may continue to file documentation as needed during the suspension period.

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NMLS License Renewal Reminder! CalBRE requires MLOs to take 8-hours of NMLS-approved CE before 12/31/14. Learn the new rules of the Consumer Protection Act before it is too late! Learn More.

CoreLogic Reports 41,000 Completed Foreclosures in October
According to CoreLogic’s October National Foreclosure Report, for the month of October 2014, there were 41,000 completed foreclosures nationally, down from 55,000 in October 2013, a year-over-year decrease of 26.4 percent and down 65 percent from the peak of completed foreclosures in September 2010. On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures were down by 34.1 percent from the 62,000 reported in September 2014. As a basis of comparison, before the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006.

As of October 2014, approximately 605,000 homes nationally were in some stage of foreclosure, known as the foreclosure inventory, compared to 875,000 in October 2013, a year-over-year decrease of 30.9 percent and representing 36 consecutive months of year-over-year declines. The foreclosure inventory as of October 2014 made up 1.6 percent of all homes with a mortgage, compared to 2.2 percent in October 2013. On a month-over-month basis, the foreclosure inventory was down 2.1 percent from September 2014. The current foreclosure rate of 1.6 percent is the lowest inventory level since May 2008.
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Is your transaction stalled due to funding hurdles? C.A.R.’s new Finance Helpline may be able to get things moving again. Get one-on-one free assistance with short sales, funding and more. Call today>

Fast Facts

Calif. median home price: October 2014:

  • California: $450,620
  • Calif. highest median home price by region/county October 2014:
    San Mateo, $1.07 million
  • Calif. lowest median home price by region/county October 2014:
    Tehama, $160,000

 Calif. Pending Home Sales Index:

October 2014: Increased 2 percent from 102.6 in September to 104.6 in October.

 
Calif. Traditional Housing Affordability Index: Second Quarter 2014: 30 percent (Source: C.A.R.)

Mortgage rates: Week ending 12/4/2014 (Source: Freddie Mac)

  • 30-yr. fixed: 3.89 % fees/points: 0.5%
  • 15-yr. fixed: 3.10% fees/points: 0.5%
  • 1-yr. adjustable: 2.41% Fees/points: 0.4%
C.A.R. Newsline is published by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a trade association representing more than 175,000 REALTORS® statewide. C.A.R. does not in any way endorse or sponsor any product or service or vendor mentioned herein unless expressly stated.

EDITED BY: Mary Belongia

Copyright © 2014 CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.)

The Best Time to Buy a Foreclosure

How Foreclosures Work

When you are in the market for a new home, buying a foreclosure may be an excellent way to save money and get a better home than you might otherwise have been able to purchase.  Many people receive advertisements every day claiming that it is possible to buy foreclosed homes for a few hundred dollars, or for pennies on the dollar.  While this may be true in some cases, it is quite rare.  Usually, when you purchase a piece of property for a few hundred dollars, there are many outstanding liens or associated costs.  Other properties are condemned and require significant investment to make them livable.  Buying a foreclosure is a matter of balancing the investment amount with the expected returns.

For a free recorded message on how foreclosures work and to request a free list of foreclosures call the pre-recorded hotline 888-228-3940 and dial extension 1042.

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One important thing I must tell you is that there is a best time to purchase a foreclosure, and that time is now. Many banks want to clear out their inventory before the end of the year and they are ready to sell off their inventory now!

That being said, let’s take a look at how most foreclosure sales work. buying a foreclosure timing pic

A foreclosure occurs when the borrower defaults on his or her mortgage loan repeatedly and for an extended period of time.  In such cases, the lender has the right and option to foreclose, or to assume the rights of occupancy for a particular property.  However, most of the time lenders do not want the responsibility and expenses of maintaining such properties.  Therefore, the properties are almost always auctioned off to agencies that specialized in reselling foreclosed properties.

In other situations, the original mortgage is secured by VA or FHA funding or by some other program that guarantees the lender’s security when extending financing to a buyer.  When a borrower defaults on this type of mortgage, the guaranteeing agency reimburses the lender for it losses and assumes ownership of the property.  Because most of these guaranteeing agencies are federal, they have resources through which they can sell the foreclosed homes.

Yes, these foreclosed homes are offered at a discount in many cases. However, sometimes the discount does little more than offset the costs that the buyer will incur in making the necessary updates or repairs.  Nevertheless, depending on the price range in which you are looking, the low cost of purchasing a foreclosed home may make the investment a sound decision.

Here are some tips on how to buy a foreclosure and to save some money at the same time.

Pre-Foreclosures

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Many lenders publish a list of homes that are approaching foreclosure.  Those buyers looking to save money on a home purchase may be able to buy a home for about 30% below its market value by approaching the owner and offering to purchase the home before its goes into foreclosure.  Most owners want to avoid having a foreclosure on their credit report and are willing to sell their home and make some quick cash.

Auctions

Often lenders auction foreclosed homes publicly.  The downside to purchasing a home at an auction is that you usually have to pay cash. The good news is that auctioned homes are usually much less expensive than homes sold in other ways.  Properties to be auctioned are listed in advance so that potential buyers can investigate the property, its need for repairs, and its outstanding liens before making a bid.  Unfortunately, these listings are rarely available far in advance of the auction, leaving little time for interested buyers to thoroughly research the property.

REO Sales

An REO (real estate owned) sale occurs when a lender decides to sell a foreclosed property directly.  Unfortunately, these sales don’t offer as much of a bargain as do auctions but usually give you much more peace of mind and eliminate the majority of the risks associated with purchasing from an auction and give you more flexibility as well. The lender needs to ensure that the title of the home is clear prior to sale.   Buyers are able to finance the purchase, which generally occurs in the same way as does a traditional home purchase, with realtors and a standard closing process.

Additional Information

Buyers who want to buy a foreclosed home with the intention of living there usually have first access.  Most investors are interested in purchasing the homes to convert them into rental properties or to update and resell them for a profit.  In order to make the homes available to people who are interested in living in them, government agencies that sell foreclosed upon homes have an introductory offer period during which only owner-occupants are permitted to make offers.

Click Here to Search for a Foreclosure Home Now! 

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When you find a foreclosed home that is being sold through a government agency, you will not need to meet and specific income or other guidelines unless you plan to apply for mortgage financing.  However, you cannot submit a bid alone.  You need to submit your bid through a licensed government broker in order to have your offer considered.  The benefit to this is that someone else knows the process inside and out and will handle all the paperwork, making the process easier for you.

If you purchase a home through a government agency that requires you to use a broker to place a bid, assume that the government agency will pay the broker’s commissions.

In many areas, special programs are available for specific types of buyers, including public employees such as teachers, firefighters and police officers.  Also, individuals affiliated with non-profit organizations may have access to special buying programs.

What to Watch Out For with Foreclosures

Banks do not want to own homes, nor do they want to make significant investments in the homes that they are trying to sell.  Therefore, almost all foreclosed homes need significant repairs.

In general, foreclosed homes are not well maintained or updated.  Many things may need to be brought up to code to make the home livable.  These could include the electrical, plumbing or HVAC systems.  Keep in mind that the cost of making these updates can be significant.

When you purchase a foreclosed home, you will receive disclosures that contain critical information.  These disclosures need to be supplemented by a certified home inspection, which will determine whether there is any critical damage to the home as a result of insects, water, age, weather, wear, etc.  As a homeowner, you need to know these things as soon as possible, preferably before purchase.

Financing and Foreclosures

When you want to purchase a foreclosed home, you may or may not be eligible for traditional mortgage programs depending on the home and your financial circumstances.  Because many foreclosures do not met lenders’ minimum property standards, you may need to seek alternative financing or even pay cash for lower-end properties.

If you are purchasing a foreclosed home from a government agency, you may be eligible to purchase the home through a specialty mortgage program that makes allowances for property condition and sometimes even offers latitude for improvement funds.

Contact Us:
Scott Brown

Scott Brown Realty

707-509-3998 (Sonoma/Napa/Solano)

415-766-7627 (Marin)

www.USAHouses.com

www.USAForeclosures.info

 

Is Your Home still on the Market? Did you have a Foreclosure? Short-Sale? Maybe it has Something to do with Zillow’s Zestimate?

Is Your Home Still On the Market? Find Out Why!

Several key things can keep buyers away from your home or cause you to lose out on profits you have rightfully earned. Some of these deterrents prevent buyers from even looking at the inside of your home, meaning that all your preparations have been done in vain.

Consider Your Price
If few or no buyers are coming to see your home, it may be listed at a price that the market cannot support. Sometimes sellers list a home for more than they expect to sell it for, leaving them room for negotiation. They think this will guarantee that they get the price that they want for their home.

In today’s housing market, this is simply not the case. In some areas of the country, sellers benefit by pricing their home about ten percent lower than their anticipated sale price. Then buyers compete for the right to purchase the home.

Of course, your home’s worth is an important consideration. Sometimes, a lower-valued home in an area filled with high-value homes will not sell simply because it is not worth as much as the higher-priced comparable properties.

Examine Your Photo(s)
Curb appeal is the number-one reason that people look at your home. If your MLS photos (especially the main one that appears on your real estate agent’s websites) are not appealing, clean up the exterior and request a new photo.

Real Estate Brokers such as myself, as well as good Realtors and Real Estate Agents know that a great photo increases your chances of having people visit your home. If a photo does not frame a home as it should, a real estate agent should give his or her client tips for presenting the home’s true appearance more favorably.

If you are not happy with your homes’ photo, submit a new photo to your broker or agent, or request a new photography session.

Inspect Your Home
Cleanliness attracts buyers! This is a plain and simple fact. Buyers do not like dirty homes, inside or out. When you know that a potential buyer is coming over for a showing, take some time to clean up the house.

You must impress not only potential buyers, but also agents. After an agent sees several potential buyers reject your home because it is dirty, they will stop recommending it to others. Word of mouth spreads among real estate agents. And naturally, if agents do not show your home, buyers cannot buy it.

Cleaning your home means more than just doing the dishes. You need to detail your home as you would a car. Clean the floors get rid of the clutter. Make the beds. Clean out your garage and make sure the bathrooms are immaculate. If you are not willing to put forth the effort necessary to get your home seen, you cannot expect it to sell.

Does Your Home Have Curb Appeal?
Drive past your home as if you were a potential buyer. Is the lawn neatly mowed? Are the shrubs neat and tidy? Are the windows clean?

If your answer is no, this may explain why your home is not selling. Use a weekend or two to spruce up your home before you place the for-sale sign in the front lawn. Otherwise, you run the risk that people who drive by will keep driving without stopping.

Curb appeal is important, because it is the first thing a buyer sees when looking at a home. Do not miss out on a potential sale simply because you chose not to mow your lawn one week.

Periodically check your home’s curb appeal throughout the sales process, making sure that you are putting your best foot forward.

Consider your competition

Take a look at the other homes in your area with similar characteristics as yours and put yourself in the shoes of today’s buyers. Ask yourself which home would you purchase if you were in the market and then truly take an objective look at your home and consider its true worth. If you would choose another home, most likely so will the other buyers.

Make sure that your information is correct throughout the internet, and that websites such as Zillow are not lying about your home’s true value.

Zillow is notorious for having inaccurate Zestimates published for millions of potential home buyers to see and far too often the amount they say your home is worth is far less than your homes true value. If potential buyers see that your home is priced too high according to Zillow, they may just ignore your home and keep on looking for one that they believe is priced right. It is illegal to lie, commit slander and libel, steal, commit false advertisements, and other things such as this, but that is what has been occurring for many years and continues to this day.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) uses what’s known as a Code of Ethics, and since I’m a Realtor I live by that code. In that code I’m obligated to inform the public about matters which are important to them. I’ve fought hard to get Zillow to change their practices after seeing them change Zestimates based on agents paying them as well as not paying them. I’ve seen Zillow publish low estimates on home since 2008 and am still seeing them even to this day in 2014.

I’ve spoken with many other members in NAR and have found many who have also seen these things and have also fought to get Zillow to change their tactics of obstructing home owners from successfully gaining fair market value offers on their homes by home buyers. Unfortunately I’ve also encountered far too many Realtors who are on board with Zillow’s criminal activities, perhaps many due to the fact that they personally gain from the home buyers they are sent from Zillow’s lead generating systems.

NAR should in reality be standing against websites such as Zillow and tell you all about these matters, but I have been shocked to find that even after my numerous attempts to get them to discuss these matters and disclose them to you all, then have not only ignored my requests but also blocked me from discussing such matters with other Realtors on their Facebook group page. Nobu Hata, who is in Engagement for NAR and also one of the main admins in charge of the Facebook group has not only removed several of my posts on this matter but has also blocked me from the group after several attempts of me trying to gain insights on this matter.

I suggest you all write to NAR and ask them why they are failing to meet their fiduciary duties to you when they list your homes for sale. They are obligated to represent you and your best interest, and by allowing Zillow to publish false information about your home and its true value to the millions that go to their website, they have turned their backs on you and left you to the wolves.

Many may not agree with me, but I ask you, if you saw a woman getting her purse with money in it stolen by a big man, would you just stand there and do nothing about it? Would you keep silent if that man gave you some of the pennies of the stolen money?

Zillow is stealing from home owners, pure and simple. They are turning many potential buyers away from your home that is for sale. I see this happening and see that it has been happening for years. I say enough is enough! It is wrong for the largest real estate company in the world to lie about your homes true value. They need to put very large disclaimers on top of each and every Zestimate showing how inaccurate they have historically been.

My own home was appraised at over $280,000 prior to me doing some work on it and Zillow had its Zestimate for it at $170,000 after I made some upgrades and put it on the market for sale. They have since changed their historical value for that home which I lost to foreclosure after no buyer was willing to purchase it for fair market value, quite possibly due to Zillow’s low estimate which they used trailer type modular manufactured homes in a nearby neighborhood to compare to my 2900+ square foot brick and mortar home on a ½ acre with a beautiful pool, stamped concrete patio, 2 garages (1 single and also a 2 car garage), wonderful home with hard wood and ceramic tiled floors, granite countertops, upgraded master suite and so much more.

One of my clients homes listed for sale had a Zestimate of between $1,300,000 and $1,400,000 when I took on the listing in June 2014. They owners had completely renovated the home and it had perhaps the best views in the city of Napa, overlooking a large area of the Napa Valley. Zillow listed a home almost 25% of the size of that home in worse condition with much less views as being worth $1,100,000. I asked Zillow for almost 3 weeks to adjust the value to reflect the true comps for that home, which was about $2,000,000. They ignored my emails and phone calls until one day I decided I would join them as one of their ‘featured agents’.

I had the listing in the MLS for almost 2 weeks at that point and they still showed a former broker/Realtor as the listing agent and never attempted to get the accurate data on that home until they received payment from me. Once they received my payment I got an email saying that I could from that point on expect to be helped with matters such as these. In the next few days, that homes Zestimate jumped to over $2,200,000 on Zillow. I was a bit glad to see that and got more calls and agents interested to show the property right away than I had the initial 2 weeks.

In my case, I had already seen some problems with Zillow and was not happy about the way they interfered with my relationship with my clients and informed them of that. I also told them I did not appreciate the way they do their Zestimates and marketing tactics. They decided to return my money at that point. In the next two days I saw the value of my clients’ home drop on their website several times, and my clients’ also observed this. I had taken screenshots and printouts of the Zestimates on this home since June off and on, in order to document my suspicions. Sure enough, the historical values on their site change.

Their Zestimates go up and down based on payments received (or not) from Realtors and other Real Estate Agents and Brokers as well. While this may not happen often (further research should be conducted to see how far it extends), it has happened at least twice that I personally have seen. There are thousands and thousands of other Real Estate Brokers and Agents out there, and I know I am not alone, for I have had several others also email me and discuss their horror stories similar to mine.

You can see similar stories and file your own at www.ZillowComplaints.com

Consider the compensation to Real Estate Brokers and Agents working hard to help their clients find your home.

In many cases Realtors spend months driving buyers to dozens of homes, using up their own gas and putting lots of miles on their own vehicles. There are lots of Buyers who don’t even look at homes which are not listed on the MLS, or do not pay their agents’ commission that was negotiated with their contract. Like it or not, Realtors are paid for their work.

Far too many home sellers have decided they do not really want to sell their home for top dollar because they believe they should not pay a Real Estate Broker a commission to sell it for them. They believe they can sell it on their own, and quite often they are correct. Studies show that the amount they usually sell for though nets them much less profit than when they use a professional to sell it for them, and compensate both parties for their hard work, time and efforts.

In the Texas market I have seen most commissions be 3% to each brokerage side of the sale, meaning the sell pays a total of 6% toward the Realtors involved. In California I’ve seen a lot of them at the same but more of them at a smaller amount of 5% where each gets 2 1/2% for their work. When you see that the competition is fierce and you want to sell your home, ask yourself if you were an agent that saw two similar homes and one offered to pay you 3% versus 2 1/2% for another with the same price, which would you want to bring your client to?

Although it should not be the case (but brokers and agents negotiate commissions with their clients and some buyers agree to only look at homes which pay that from the sale), unfortunately there are a number of agents who will only show the homes that pay the higher commissions, so think about that also when you really want to sell. This is something you may also wish to consider before making a drop to the listing price of your home too.

Once you have addressed these issues, you probably will find that potential buyers and agents are much more interested in your home. Your home must attract people. Otherwise, you will be stuck with a home that will not sell.

Remember to visit www.USAHouses.com when you are in the market to buy or sell Real Estate.

 

How to Live Through the Remodeling Process

Remodeling is exciting in the beginning, but as the excitement of the renovations begin to take longer than you expect, you struggle to avoid going insane among the chaos. As a former carpenter and Building General Contractor, I have been on numerous remodeling projects. Any of them that lasted longer than 1 month almost always without exception had challenges and friction, regardless of any company I worked for or crew I worked with, for the simple fact that most people don’t feel comfortable having someone in their home for any extended period of time.

Living among the ruins is more difficult than first anticipated. But do not worry too much about it though, because there are practical ways to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. Try applying a few of the following ideas.

Clearly Communicate with Your Contractor:

  1. Make sure everyone is on the same page as to when the project will be completed and what materials they will/will not use.
  2. Discuss what their work hours will be and when other contractors are scheduled to come.
  3. If the contractor is given a key, make sure they know you are giving them responsibility.
  4. Give guidelines for all workers to follow. Can they use the phone? Where should they park their trucks? Can they listen to the radio, and if so, how loud?
  5. Create a space for the workers to keep their tools and supplies and make sure they know that space is for them.
  6. Specify to them which bathroom they can use and where they can clean brushes.
  7. Alert the workers to schedule times when the power or water will be turned off, so that you are aware.
  8. Expect delays. Unforeseen problems such as a missing worker, late arrival of materials, and such will keep your project from on time completion.
  9. If you have to make changes to something the contractor has already done, go straight to your architect, contractor, or their supervisor.
  10. Offer the workers something to drink and perhaps a snack. Workers that are happy, work harder, go the extra mile, and are more willing to return later when you need repairs.

Renovating Wisdom:

  1. Have one person in your family be the spokesperson to the contractor. This will limit confusion and delays.
  2. Store as many things in the work area as possible.
  3. Cover everything else with drop clothes.
  4. If possible, try to at least keep one part of your home ‘work-free’, so you can feel at rest in at least part of your home.
  5. Keep plaster dust in the work area by hanging plastic sheets over doorways between the work area and the rest of your home.
  6. Plan to go out to eat more frequently and ordering delivery a bit more (stock up on coupons too).
  7. Perhaps you could plan to take a week-long trip or a weekend vacation during the renovations.
  8. Check all fixtures to make sure they work before they get installed.

If most of your home is under renovation, you may want to move out for the first month or two for the following reasons.

  1. The contractors can then work uninterruptedly and not have to worry about working around you.
  2. You will not have to deal with the thick dust that will coat your house.
  3. The dangerous debris could seriously injure you.
  4. If you have children, you have to constantly be making sure they are away from the “under construction” areas.
  5. Nails always escape initial clean-ups that easily cut into feet.
  6. Dangerous tools may lie around your house or fall off “out of reach” places that allow little ones access.
  7. The contractors feel more at ease with you not looking over their shoulder and quite frankly work much faster and safer without you in their way.
  8. Little one’s naps will be constantly interrupted by the noise contractors need to make in order to renovate with hammers, saws, electric dusters, scrapers, etc.
  9. You can enjoy a better relationship with your family if you create this time out as one to always remember. Perhaps you should go to Yosemite or some other National Park and enjoy a holiday.

Most importantly remember you are likely the one who wanted to do the remodeling in the first place, so think about how the project will be and how much you will enjoy it once your home is finished and always keep a smile on your face!

 J

Remember to go to my website, http://www.USAHouses.com and be sure to check out all of the tools available to home owners, buyers and sellers. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter to get these types of tips and more sent directly to your inbox.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Contractor

With cooler weather approaching now is the time to tackle home-improvement projects. This is the season for installing decks, ensuring your roof if in good condition and maybe even other things such as installing in-ground swimming pools and other nice features. Autumn remodeling often has bargain-pricing, but choosing the right contractor for the job is truly an important task. Prior to becoming a licensed Real Estate Agent and Broker, I used to be a California General Building Contractor. I have worked with many professionals and seen some licensed who were not so professional as well.

Hire only licensed contractors! No matter how big or small the project is, hiring a contractor means giving a stranger access to your home and, in some cases, even putting the safety of your family into their hands as well as those they may employ and sub-contract. Home-improvement complaints are among the most common consumer concerns. Therefore you need to be on the lookout for red flags before you sign any contract.

Get Recommendations! Contractors build their customer base through referrals more than through any form of advertising. If you are looking for a contractor for a specific project, you probably know someone who can point you in the right direction. However, sometimes a recommendation is not enough. When you interview a potential contractor, ask for references. Professionals who cannot demonstrate that they deliver on their promises are not worth your consideration.

Ask for a detailed estimate! Once you have contacted the contractor’s references and are ready to begin a project, ask for a detailed project specification, including the price, materials, estimated completion time, work stages, and contingency plans. Contingency plans are important, because unfortunately projects rarely occur exactly as planned. You need to know in advance what the contractor will do if, for example, a need for repair arises before the original project is completed.

Require Insurance! Whenever you hire a professional to work on a home-improvement or -repair project, he or she must be insured adequately. Consider requiring proof of accident insurance that covers up to one million dollars in damage. If a contractor is not insured, you assume the risk should something go wrong.

Make sure their employees are safe, legal and trustworthy as well! You should also be assured that those employed with their company are legally able to be doing so, as well as ensure that they have employees that have passed background checks. If even one of their employees hurts one of your family members or steals from you, it is one too many.

Get the Required Permits! To secure your interests, you as the homeowner need to request any necessary building permits. Occasionally a contractor agrees to obtain the necessary permits, does not do so, and then the homeowner is caught in the middle of a legal dispute. Many localities now require that homeowners make all the permit applications themselves. This protects the homeowner. Never make the permits someone else’s responsibility.

Hire the Best Contractor for Your Project! A carpenter may build excellent decks, but he or she probably will not be the best contractor for installing central air-conditioning. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to hire a plumber to re-wire your garage! When you are searching for a contractor, be sure to find a specialist. Some general contractors are equipped to handle nearly any home-improvement or -repair project, but they tend to overcharge and then outsource the work to sub-contractors. Find out who their sub-contractors are and contact them yourself, if possible. This could not only save you cash, but also the provide peace of mind of knowing that you have selected the right person or company for the job.

If you are considering a remodeling, repair or other home-improvement project this autumn, take your time and start planning now for a successful project. By following these tips for selecting a contractor, you will demonstrate your mastery of the art of finding the right person for the job.

Home improvements are – and should be – exciting, particularly when you are a new homeowner. Just don’t end up regretting your selection of the contractor.

Most real estate brokers and agents like to look out for their clients’ interests. Helping you select a contractor is just one of the many ways they can help you with your home-improvement projects.

For more tips and to check out whether or not prospective contractors are in fact licensed, please make sure to visit your state specific website regarding contractors, such as this one if you are in California at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/Consumers.aspx first before making your selection.

For any other questions please look over my website at www.USAHouses.com or feel free to send me an email or give me a call.

Tips for a Successful Move

Tips for a Successful Move
Moving to a new home is an exciting event.  Whether you plan to move down the street or five states away, the moving process does not change very much.  Keep in mind, though, that even when the move is to a better place, the process of moving can be very tiring and stressful for you and your family.

Realtors have many years of experience working with people like you and have gathered information about the moving process during that time. The information they can provide will be helpful to you whether you are selling and moving or buying a home for the first time. Naturally, there will be differences in the process for everyone, because no two situations are identical. But by following these practical tips, you will make your move – and your life – easier during this exciting time.

Keep a Calendar!
Once you have decided to move from your current home, even if that move seems to be in the distant future, you need to begin planning each step as soon as possible.  Advanced planning, when possible, will make the process smoother for everyone involved and it will also help you remember all the little details.

An organizer-type calendar with a folio cover will help you keep everything together. You can put important papers and notices in the folder to stay organized.  Organization is the key to success in almost everything, and planning a move is no exception.

If you know when you are moving, the first thing to write in your calendar is the date of the move. Work backwards from there to note critical tasks along the way.  As you think of things that you need to do, make a note of them in the calendar. 

Schedule some personal time, too. It is important to make sure that you are spending time doing the things you love to do, as well as the things you have to do for your move.

Keep an Updated Phone List!
To ensure that you are ready to disconnect and connect your utilities when the time comes, and that you don’t forget anything of importance, keep a list of important telephone numbers inside your calendar folder.  Depending on where you are moving and how far it is from your current home, you may need to arrange for new doctors, dentists, and other professional services as well.

Try to establish a relationship with your new doctor as early as possible to ease the transition process. Also, if you are changing doctors or dentists, request that your medical records be transferred ahead of time.

…these tips on successfully preparing for a move will make the process less stressful for you and everyone else involved.  The value of a folio-style calendar cannot be stressed enough…

Make a Complete Inventory!
Keeping an inventory of your assets is a good way to avoid forgetting anything when you move.  Well before moving day, begin to keep an inventory in a notebook.  Begin with your largest pieces of furniture and work your way down to smaller possessions. 

Having a complete inventory will make the process of sorting and packing easier, too.  It will help you make an accurate estimate of the number and sizes of boxes required and decide whether you need to rent a storage unit. Also, if you are moving far away from your current home, you be estimate how large a moving truck you will need.

Determine Whether You Will Hire Movers or Do It Yourself!
Sometimes, home buyers know in advance whether they plan to use professional movers or complete the move themselves with the assistance of friends and family.  However, because every situation is different, sometimes this is a difficult decision.  In general, if you have a lot of heavy furniture and not enough help to move it on your own, hiring professional movers is an excellent idea.

On the other hand, if you are preparing to move into your first home and expect to purchase most of your furniture afterwards, then hiring professional help may not be worth the expense.

Most of the time, it is a good idea to hire movers for long-distance moves. First, consider the cost of renting multiple trucks and the fuel associated with hauling.  When you hire professionals, you are almost always sharing that cost with someone else for an interstate move.  This may be the case for short-distance moves, too. It really depends on the moving company and what you will be moving.

Clean Out the Clutter!
When you prepare for your move in advance, you have time to get ride of the clutter that you have accumulated.  The garage may be a good place to start, so that when you begin the process of packing you will have a place in which to store the boxes. 

If you plan to sell your home while preparing to move, it is a good idea to eliminate clutter anyhow, since clutter-free homes are more attractive to potential buyers.  Consider holding a garage sale or making charitable donations.  You could also offer to give your items to friends and family members who could put them to good use.

Regardless of how you choose to eliminate clutter, it is a highly involved and time-consuming process.  Therefore, if you need to move soon, without much advance notice, know that it may be necessary to wait until you have reached your new destination to sort through your belongings and decide what to keep and what to eliminate.

Hire Help Throughout the Moving Process!
For families with young children, babysitting is the most valuable service that can be procured while preparing for a move.  Hire a local teenager, a relative, or even a daycare center.  This will give you the time and freedom necessary to successfully prepare for your upcoming move.

Again, the process can be more complicated when you are preparing for a move and selling your home simultaneously.  You may need to hire landscapers, painters and even haulers to help with some of the more difficult chores.

Hopefully, these tips on successfully preparing for a move will make the process less stressful for you and everyone else involved.  The value of a folio-style calendar cannot be stressed enough.  If you purchase one that is large enough to hold all your important documents in one place, you will never need to spend your valuable time searching for the information you need.

Allow yourself as much time as possible before the move, to prepare and pack.  And remember to take good care of yourself throughout the process. Getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals is critical.  Too many people rely on fast-food meals during the moving process, but a steady take-out diet is a recipe for disaster. Make wise choices and schedule time to eat nutritious meals.

Also, make sure that you are getting enough exercise.  Even a short daily walk will keep you refreshed and healthy, so schedule enough time every day for at least a short walk outside.  Sometimes, breaking up the tedium of moving preparations is the best gift that you can give to yourself.

The Ins and Out of Preparing to Buy a Home

The Ins and Out of Preparing to Buy a Home

People used to buy a home only once or twice during their lifetime. That is no longer the case, with large families downsizing later in life and relocation being the key to career advancement for many people. The average family moves at least once every ten years, which means that there are always plenty of homes available for sale.

There are many tricks for finding the perfect home and buying it on your terms. This article will arm you with information that can take the hassle out of buying a home.

Financing – Things to Consider
Potential homebuyers usually go to their lender and complete the prequalification process. The lender considers their debt-to-income ratio and determines how much they can afford to pay. The lender usually overlooks your day-to-day spending habits and preferences. If you are like most people, you have a lifestyle to which you are accustomed, including hobbies, travel, vehicles and possibly even children.

The lender will not consider large expenses like college tuition, weddings for your children, or luxury vacations. Likewise, the lender will not ask you about your hobbies or your plans to purchase new furniture. Nevertheless, these are important considerations when you want to buy a home, because they impact the amount of money that you can spend on housing while still maintaining your lifestyle.

Prepare a budget ahead of time that will help you determine how much you can and want to spend on your mortgage payment each month. Unless you plan to change your lifestyle, you must have an accurate understanding of your financial habits. Often people buy a home as a result of a life change. Such changes are usually accompanied by expected changes in lifestyle and spending habits. Anticipate those changes and how much you will have available for your monthly mortgage payment.

Pre-Approval – Why it Matters
Potential buyers should never make an offer on a home until they have been pre-approved for a mortgage by their lender. Sellers prefer to work with buyers who are pre-approved, because when those buyers make an offer on a home, they intend to buy it.

Needs and Wants
Before you start shopping for a home, know what your new home has to have. If you need three bedrooms, do not waste your time with two-bedroom homes. However, if you need two bedrooms but would prefer to have three, consider two-bedroom homes that meet your other requirements.

When you know what you need in a home, you can narrow your selection process to those homes that meet your criteria. Sometimes this is advantageous, but it can be limiting.

Also consider the specific type of home that you need. If you are an aging adult, you probably cannot maintain a large lawn and garden, nor climb onto the roof when it is leaking. A home that is part of a community with a maintenance team might be necessary. Condos and townhomes might be a good solution. Similarly, if you have large dogs that need running space, a townhome or condo probably will not work for you. Choosing the style of the home is an individual decision and one of the first steps in finding a home that meets your needs.

Conclusion
Following this simple advice will help you shop for your next home as a very well-educated buyer. Knowing what you need and how much you can afford to spend ahead of time is the key to successful and happy homeownership.

Given the considerable amount of time needed to look at homes, complete the paperwork required, purchase a new home, and move, you probably will not want to move again soon. Make sure you pick the right home the first time! Hassle-free shopping and home buying is possible, but you need to know how to prepare for the process and identify the home that is best for your lifestyle.