Thursday, December 28, 2006


Existing-home sales continued to recover last month following a rise in October, with the level of sales activity suggesting a turn in the market, according to NAR. Total existing-home sales--including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops--rose 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.28 million units in November from a level of 6.24 million in October, but were 10.7% below the 7.03 million-unit pace in November 2005. David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said modest gains are expected for home sales. "As the housing market recovers from its correction, existing-home sales should be rising gradually during 2007--it looks like we may have reached the low point for the current cycle in September," he said. "We've entered a more sustainable period of home sales now, and we expect greater support for prices over time as inventory levels are eventually drawn down." (Source: NAR)
Search for homes in the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita Valley now!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

DIVORCE What You Need to Know About Your House, Your Mortgage and Taxes

PLEASE NOTE: The material contained in this article is for information only.It is not intended to replace individualized legal advice. We strongly recommended you seek professional legal counsel for your legal issues.


Divorce is a tough situation which opens up many emotional and financial issues to be solved. One of the most important decisions is what to do about the house.In the midst of the heavy emotional and financial turmoil, what you need most is some non-emotional, straightforward, specific answers. Once you know how a divorce affects your home, your mortgage and taxes, critical decisions are easier. Neutral, third party information can help you make logical, rather than emotional decisions.Probably the first decision is whether you want to continue to living in the house. Will the familiar surroundings bring you comfort and emotional security, or unpleasant memories? Do you want to minimize change by staying where you are, or sell your home and move to a new place that offers a new start? Only you can answer these questions, but there will almost certainly be some financial repercussions to your decision process. What can you afford? Can you manage the old house on your new budget? Is refinancing possible? Or is it better to selland buy? How much house can you buy on your new budget?

The purpose of this article is to help you ask the right questions so you can make informed decisions that will be right for your situation.

OPTIONS You have 4 basic housing options when in the midst of a divorce:
1. Sell the house now and divide up the proceeds.
2. Buy out your spouse.
3. Have your spouse buy you out.
4. Retain your ownership. It’s important for you to understand the financial implications of each of these scenarios.

1. Sell the House Now and Divide Up the Proceeds. Your primary consideration under these circumstances is to maximize your home’s selling price. As you work to get your financial affairs in order, make sure you understand what your net proceeds will be - i.e. after selling expenses, and after determining what your split of the proceeds will be. Note that the split may not be 50/50, but rather may depend on the divorce settlement, the source of the original downpayment, and the legislative property laws in your area.

2. Buy Out Your Spouse. If you intend to keep the house yourself, you’ll have to determine how you’ll continue to meet your monthly financial obligations, if you now only have one salary. If you used two incomes to qualify for the old loan, refinancing on your own might be a challenge.

3. Have Your Spouse Buy You Out. If you are the one who is leaving, you have the opportunity to start again in new surroundings with cash in your pocket.However, be aware that if the the old home loan is not refinanced, most lenders will consider both you and your spouseas original co-signers to be liable for the mortgage. This liability may make qualifying for a new mortgage difficult for you if you decide to purchase a home, even though you won’t have legal ownership.

4. Retain Joint Ownership. Some divorcing couples postpone a financial decision with respect to the home and retain joint ownership for a period of time even though only one spouse lives there. While this temporary situation means you have no immediate worries in this regard, keep your eye on tax considerations which may change from the time of your divorce to the time of the ultimate sale.

WHEN YOU DECIDE TO SELL If you and your spouse decide to sell your home, it will be important to work together through a professional to maximize your return. Differences aside, you both should be present when a listing contract is put together. Both of you should understand and sign this contract, and both should be active in the ultimate negotiations.

WHEN YOU BUY YOUR NEXT HOME Use the proceeds from your previous home or buy-out to determine an affordable price range for your next home. Maintain a clear focus on getting the right home to suit your new situation. You may wish to review with an agent who offers a house-hunting service to help find a home that matches your new home-buying criteria.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Calif. median home price - October 06: $548,680(Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. highest median home price by C.A.R. region October 06:Santa Barbara So. Coast $1,115,000(Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. lowest median home price by C.A.R. region October 06:High Desert $328,650(Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. First-time Buyer Affordability Index -Third Quarter 06: 24 percent(Source: C.A.R.)

Mortgage rates - week ending 12/14:30-yr. fixed: 6.12%; Fees/points: 0.4%15-yr. fixed: 5.86%; Fees/points: 0.5%1-yr. adjustable: 5.45%; Fees/points: 0.8%
(Source: Freddie Mac)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Shopping Smarter" for the Holidays!

It's that time of the year when our eyes are bigger than our wallets!! So, we're going to be very candid with you. Going into debt for holiday gifts and entertainment is never a good idea.

Frankly, your best shopping partner is your budget! Hopefully, you've got one and have stuck to it. But if you do end up going over your head, you shoulk know there's an alternative to high-interest credit card debt.

With a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) you can access cash at a lower interest rate. By using your home as collateral, you can borrow money at a much lower rate than is charged by credit card companies.

In fact, with a HELOC, you could pay less than half the interest charges over a one-year period than you would on a credit card! Also, unlike credit card payments, your HELOC payments may be used as a tax write-off (check with your tax advisor).

When you pay only the minimum on your credit cards, you're paying mostly interest. With a lower-interest HELOC, chances are you'll have more money to repay the loan each month. Plus, you'll be paying down the principal, so you can pay your debt off sooner.

To get started, contact:

Steven Weinstock
Secure Capital Mortgage
818-285-0604 ext. 201

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The share of first-time home buyers dropped earlier this year to its lowest level since 1987, according to NAR. First-time home buyers now account for 36% of home purchases, according to a study released last month, down from 40% in the three previous years. But as more sellers begin to cut their asking prices and rates on fixed-rate mortgages have moved lower, some real-estate agents are reporting renewed interest from people shopping for their first home.

Tips: Buying your home with no money down with 100% financing.

The first step in buying your first home is to get pre-approved. Once you know what you can afford, the next step is to start looking for homes in an area which fits your lifestyle, budget, etc...

Start with your local bank. See what type of loan programs they can offer. When you finally partner up with a local real estate professional, that Realtor will also recommend you apply with a recommended lender. Go with the person who offers you the best terms, rate, and payment.

You can use my site: to begin your home search. This site covers the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas. Make sure to add your name, email, and phone number so you'll receive your daily property updates by email.

When you find a home you like, we can schedule a time to view and others in the areas your interested in. If your looking in the price range of $300,000, you can also search for homes in the $325,000 range as some sellers are willing to negotiate down the price of their home.

When making your offer, keep in mind that you will need to put anywhere from 2% to 3% as a good faith initial deposit of the purchase price. Though you are buying the home with no money down, this amount will be refunded back to you at closing. We'll also ask the seller to pay your non-recurring closing costs. Non-recurring closing costs are costs associated with closing the purchase; Title, escrow, mortgage broker, etc... This will ensure all of your initial deposit is returned at the close of escrow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This is the January 2007 Market Report for the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas.

Home sales during November in the San Fernando Valley were down 22.5 percent compared to a year ago, yet local Realtors believe that’s good news suggesting that the market has completed its shift to a balanced, normal market, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Friday, Dec. 8.

"Everything I’ve been reading, everything I’ve been hearing from Realtors suggests that the major shift in the local residential real estate market is over," said Steve White, president of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors, which serves the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. "The boom days are gone, replaced by today’s balanced market.

After years of 20 percent, 25 percent and higher year-to-year increases in the median price, it's noteworthy that the median price of single-family homes sold last month was virtually unchanged from the prior year– off less than 1 percent.

"People figure that if sales are off 10 percent then prices must be tumbling," said Jim Link, the Association’s executive vice president. "But prices are flat and buyers cannot assume they will get 20 percent or 30 percent off the list price. Low-ball offers get only one response – no counteroffer."

Link and White agreed that the market has reached a new level with zero indicators suggesting a major recession is anywhere on the horizon.

"It may turn out," White said, "that buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines may miss this opportunity. Activity typically picks up in the Spring and who knows where interest rates will be."

Interest rates on home loans declined over the last several weeks, offering buyers favorable terms, ideal conditions, along with the largest selection of properties listed for sale in years.

The inventory represented a 5.9-month supply at the current pace. A 5- to 6-month supply is regarded a "normal." During the height of the recent sellers’ market the inventory slipped to a mere 1-month supply. During the height of the national recession of the 1990s the inventory soared as high as a 19-month supply at the then current pace of sales.

Please forward this email to any of your friends who are interested to buy or sell a home.

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