Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mortgage rates dip slightly

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average rates on 30-year mortgages edged down for a second week as financial markets interpreted weakness in consumer confidence and home sales as evidence that the economy is still mired in a period of lackluster growth.

In its weekly survey, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.16% nationwide this week, down slightly from 6.17% last week.

The 30-year rate is very close to its 2007 low, 6.14% in early March.

Analysts attributed the slight decline to reports showing that consumer confidence dropped in April to the lowest level in eight months while sales of existing homes fell by the largest amount in 18 years.

"Recent economic data ... caused the market to pause and re-evaluate the potential growth of the economy this year," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac. "This allowed all mortgage rates to decline slightly this week."

He noted that mortgage rates so far this year have been relatively stable with the 30-year fluctuating as high as 6.34% in early February and as low as 6.14% for the first two weeks in March.

Other mortgage rates also fell this week, Freddie Mac said.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, dipped to 5.87%, down from 5.89% last week.

Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.88%, compared with 5.92% last week. One-year adjustable-rate mortgages edged down to 5.43% from 5.45% last week.
The mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Thirty-year and 15-year mortgages both carried a nationwide average fee of 0.5 points. Five-year and one-year ARMs carried an average fee of 0.7 points.

A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages stood at 6.58% while 15-year mortgages were at 6.21%. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 6.21% and one-year adjustable-rate mortgages were at 5.68%.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Buying a Condo? Read the Fine Print First

Buying a condominium without studying the building’s finances can land a buyer in trouble.

Here are some important factors for your condo buyers to review:
  • Examine current assets and liabilities to see if there’s enough money to pay current expenses.
  • Examine the reserves to see if there’s sufficient money so maintenance and regular expenses won’t be drastically affected if an emergency arises.
  • Ask to compare at least two years worth of financial statements to make sure spending is consistent, a hallmark of good management.
  • Find out if the building is regularly spending money on repairs and upgrades. Letting this kind of maintenance pile up can foreshadow big bills later on.
  • Read a year’s worth of condo board meeting minutes for any suggestion of contingent liabilities, which suggests there may be a lawsuit in the wings. While lawsuits usually are covered by insurance, you’ll want to know whether it’s a litigious board.

Source: The New York Times News Service, Teri Karush Rogers (04/20/07)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

When Is a Real Estate Agent a REALTOR?

A real estate agent is a REALTOR when he or she becomes a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS, The Voice for Real Estate, the world's largest professional association. The term "REALTOR" is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS and abides by its strict Code of Ethics.

Founded in 1908, NAR has grown from its original nucleus of 120 members to more than 1 million today. NAR is composed of REALTORS who are involved in residential and commercial real estate as brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others who are engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry.

Members belong to one or more of 1,700 local associations/boards and 54 state and territory associations of REALTORS and can join one of our many institutes, societies, and councils.

Additionally, NAR offers members the opportunity to be active in our appraisal and international real estate specialty sections. REALTORS are pledged to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Working for America's property owners, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS provides a facility for professional development, research, and exchange of information among its members.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tips on Selecting a Contractor For Home Improvement

Home repairs can cost thousands of dollars and are the subject of frequent complaints. Here is a list of things to consider when selecting a contractor:

  1. Get recommendations and references. Talk to friends, family and other people for whom the contractor has done similar work.

  2. Get at least three written estimates from contractors who have come to your home to evaluate what needs to be done. Be sure the estimates are based on the same work so that you can make meaningful comparisons.

  3. Make sure the contractor meets licensing and registration requirements with your local consumer agency. Some areas require licensees to pass tests for competency and scrutinize licensees for financial solvency. They may also have a fund to cover some financial losses that result from problems with licensed contractors.

  4. Check to see if local laws limit the amount by which the final bill can exceed the estimate, unless you have approved the increase.

  5. Check contractor complaint records with the Better Business Bureau or similar agency.
    Get the names of suppliers and ask if the contractor makes timely payments.

  6. Contact your local building inspection department to check for permit and inspection requirements. Be wary if the contractor asks you to get the permit. It could mean the firm is not licensed.

  7. Be sure your contractor has the required personal liability, property damage and worker’s compensation insurance for his/her workers and subcontractors. Also check with your insurance company to find out if you are covered for any injury or damage that might occur.

  8. Insist on a complete written contract. Know exactly what work will be done, the quality of materials that will be used, warranties, timetables, the names of any subcontractors, the total price of the job, and the schedule of payments.

  9. Try to limit your down payment. Local law may specify that only a certain percentage of the total cost may be made as a down payment.

  10. Understand your payment options. Compare the cost of getting your own loan versus contractor financing.

  11. Don’t make final payment or sign an affidavit of final release until you are satisfied with the work and know that subcontractors and suppliers have been paid. Local lien laws may allow unpaid subcontractors and/or unpaid suppliers to attach your home.

  12. Pay by credit card when you can. This may allow you the right to withhold payment to the credit card company until problems are corrected.
  13. Be especially cautious if the contractor:
  • comes door-to-door or seeks you out;

  • just happens to have material left over from a recent job;

  • tells you your job will be a "demonstration";

  • offers you discounts for finding other customers;

  • quotes a price that’s out of line with other estimates;

  • pressures you for an immediate decision; offers exceptionally long guarantees;

  • can only be reached by leaving messages with an answering service;

  • drives an unmarked van or has out-of-area plates on his/her vehicles;

  • or asks you to pay for the entire job up front.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Market Update - California

Source of Statistics: California Association of Realtors

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Finding the Best Match When Shopping for a Buyer Agent

By June Fletcher
Wall Street Journal

Like anyone else in business, real-estate agents flock to where the money and power is. And right now, it's in the hands of buyers.

Currently, 64% of consumers use buyer agents when they purchase a home. Agents want to push that number higher. According to the National Association of Realtors, the fastest-growing designation that agents are in training to acquire is Accredited Buyer Representative.

Still, most agents hedge their bets: They want to represent sellers in good times, and buyers in bad. Since most of the past decade has been a seller's market, few agents have made it their business practice to represent buyers exclusively. Out of 60,000 agents who are members of the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council, only 2% are exclusive buyer agents who never take a home listing, NAR says.

As a buyer, it's always beneficial to have someone carry your spear in negotiations with a seller or builder. And it's best for the buyer if the agent never takes listings, since you never have to worry about divided loyalties.

But since it may be difficult to find an exclusive buyers agent, how do you evaluate what you're more likely to find -- an agent who divides his or her time between getting and showing listings and representing buyers?

The system, as it exists now, is hardly ideal for buyers. Most people meet real-estate agents by visiting open houses or inquiring about ads they've seen in the newspaper or on the Internet. Inevitably, an agent will ask you if you are "working" with another agent. If you say no, he will send or give you some listings and ask if you'd like to visit some of the houses. If you do, he will "claim" you, at least when it comes to that house. In some states, you may also be asked to sign an exclusive buyer's agency agreement. Should you decide to buy the home, the agent will expect to represent you during the sale.

This practice has obvious time-saving advantages for agents, but it's not ideal for buyers. Shopping for an agent is a lot like dating: You're unlikely to fall in love with the first one you encounter. Even if first impressions are good, you may decide that the chemistry isn't working after you've spent a day or two touring houses...or you may decide that you'd like to play the field a bit before committing to a particular person.

So how much loyalty do you owe an agent? The legal answer is -- none, at least if you haven't signed a buyer's agreement. Personally, however, it's much harder to shrug off someone who's spent time squiring you around and sending you e-mails, even if -- as happened to me one time -- the agent is so fond of pastrami and pickle sandwiches that you can barely stand to be in a car with her.

Janet Branton, a senior vice president at NAR, says buyers have a right to an agent who makes them feel comfortable and will represent them competently. But out of courtesy, you should inform agents if you no longer want to work with them. You don't have to defend or justify your reasons (while home shopping in Chicago recently, Ms. Branton stopped working with one agent because he was too busy to show her homes; another because he refused to use e-mail), but it's polite to let them know why.

You should also give this information to any new agent you decide to work with. That's because if the first agent showed you a house and you decide to buy it using a different agent, the first agent may still have a right to receive the buyer's commission (which is typically -- but not always -- paid by the seller at closing).

Squabbles over commissions are handled between agents or go to an agent arbitration board, and buyers are rarely called in to testify, Ms. Branton says.
Still, I doubt that most buyers want the agent they eventually choose to be cheated out of a commission.

The bottom line: Shop around for agents until you find the right one for you, and don't let anyone guilt-trip you into a relationship that makes you uncomfortable. "Nobody owns you," says Ms. Branton. But once you have found that agent, be upfront about other ones you've "tried out," and which listings you've visited with them. And then be loyal -- you'll be rewarded with better service.

Richard's notes... When a home-buyer calls me, I always recommend that they choose someone they can trust and enjoy to work with. It's also true from the agents perspective. If you expect your agent to provide you updated property information incuding any pocket listings, you have to demonstrate your commitment to the agent by getting pre-approved through their perferred mortgage broker. It's kind of like give-and-take.

Keep in mind that real estate agents meet all kinds of people. Not everyone is a loyal person with a great job and excellent credit. As like buyers and sellers, we have a right to choose the person we want to work with. If you feel comfortable, then go for it!
To search for homes, visit:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Discount Brokers…The Real Truth!

A recent article I posted on the looks at the truth of hiring a discount or flat fee broker.

You can read the post here:

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Home Sellers Should Run From These Buyer Types

By Marshall Loeb
From MarketWatch

Are you selling your home? Then you should know what -- or whom -- you're dealing with, advises Michael Corbett, the author of "Find It, Fix It, Flip It!" and the new "Ready, Set, Sold!" guide to selling a home.

Most buyers fall into one of three categories, he says. You'll find buyers searching for a dream home, buyers looking for a great home at a fair price and buyers scouring for the next bargain.

The dream-home searchers will probably pay full price if they find the place they want. The great-home shoppers aren't going to offer full price but will be especially willing to negotiate. The bargain hunters? They thrive on finding the best price and may be looking for a fixer-upper.

If your house is priced correctly and is in good shape, you probably won't encounter the bargain hunter. But you will find three types of buyers among dream-home and great-home shoppers that aren't going to serve your bottom line. These are the buyers you want to avoid, warns Corbett:
  • The Zero-Percent Down Buyer. If your home is setting a selling-price high mark for comparable homes "a mortgage company might find it challenging to appraise your house for buyers with little or no money down," writes Corbett. "You'll have to put your house back on the market again when your buyer's mortgage request falls through."
  • The Bully Buyer. Nobody likes a bully and chances are you're not going to like this type of buyer either. You will be inundated with a list of things that are wrong with house -- all while presenting an offer. The inspection process? It will be a nightmare. If you detect a bully, move on. "This bully approach is a prelude to endless negotiations, and his or her trying to obtain concessions by nitpicking on the disclosure and the inspection.
  • The Sight-Unseen Buyer. You may get an offer from someone who has only seen photos of your house. But that can signal a trick up the sleeve. No one is going to buy a house without seeing it -- this buyer just wants to tie up your house to take it off the market and make a decision later.

Richard's notes... Los Angeles is well known for its Billionaires and its Wacko's. Saving you time and headache all comes down to choosing the right Realtor to help you sell your home. One of the jobs of a professional Realtor is to protect your time, money, and interest.

Here is a request of items I ask when a buyer is going to make an offer on one of my listings:

1. Pre-approval letter.
2. The lender(s) who has approved the buyer.
2. All 3 FICO Scores.
3. Any buyer contingencies. Example: If they have to sell their home first.
4. Their purchase price.

Asking the right questions helps separate a professional Realtor from the rest.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Are You a Serious Buyer?

A recent article I posted on looks at the actions of a serious buyer.
You can read the article by clicking this link:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Top 10 Richest Zip Codes

During the five-year boom in housing prices, from the third quarter through the third quarter of 2006, the prices in the nation’s richest zip codes rose dramatically.

For the United States as a whole, the five-year increase in the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index was 63.7 percent, while the increase was 79.5 percent for those zip codes with a median sales price of $750,000 or more, according to Fiserv Lending Solutions, which supplies data and software to lenders.

The following list is the 10 U.S. Zip codes with the greatest appreciation in median property values since 2001. Prices listed are from the second quarter of 2006 and the percentage compares the median increase for the previous five years from the second quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2006.

1. Greenwich, Conn. (06831): $2,983,000, 49.3 percent
2. Newport Beach, Calif. (92661): $2,500,000, 132.2 percent
3. Paradise Valley, Ariz. (85253): $1,850,000, 100.4 percent
4. Avalon, N.J. (08202): $1,687,500, 125.7 percent
5. Cambridge, Mass. (02138): $1,395,500, 22.4 percent
6. Glen Head, N.Y. (11545): $1,150,000, 67.2 percent
7. Islamorada, Fla. (33036): $1,150,000, 204.3 percent
8. Chevy Chase, Md. (20815): $1,043,000, 94.8 percent
9. Hinsdale, Ill. (60521): $950,000, 48.4 percent
10. Bellevue, Wash. (98004): $950,000, 83.9 percent

Source: BusinessWeek Online, Peter Coy and Maya Roney (04/02/07)

Lenders Willing to Help Struggling Homeowners

Associated Press
April 5, 2007

As home foreclosures mount, mortgage companies are knocking on doors, sending letters and making phone calls with a simple message for struggling homeowners: They’d rather modify your loan than foreclose.

Lenders have long modified loans for homeowners facing job loss, illness, divorce or a death in the family. But with many borrowers across the country struggling to keep up with mortgage payments, mortgage companies increasingly are prodding anyone who’s having trouble making payments for any reason to give them a call.

Critics say lenders made loans to borrowers who were not creditworthy with terms that would be impossible for them to meet. Whether the current wave of workouts will merely postpone foreclosures — and delay bad loans hitting lenders’ books — is an open question.

New foreclosures hit their highest ever level in the fourth quarter of 2006, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Home owners are the obvious losers, but all the financial services companies involved lose. The lender loses the steady stream of payments it counted on. If it sold the loan as part of a securitization, a package of mortgage-backed securities, that investor loses. Loan servicers, who are usually paid a fraction of the interest on a loan, lose too.

Richard's notes... If you're unable to make your mortgage payments on time, please contact your lender and explain the situation. It's in the lenders best interest to help you find a solution and it may be possible the lender will renegotiate the note on the property. You always have the option to list and sell your house if you and the lender cannot come to an agreement.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Should You Borrow From Your 401k?

Have you refinanced your home into oblivion? Tapped out every available money resource with a myriad of loans and credit cards? There is one last option: borrowing from your 401(k). If you've never heard of this option, it's because until recently, it just wasn't done that frequently. But with the market still not fully recovered, and people desiring to cut their high interest debt, more folks are discovering this alternative lending source.

Before you go off half-cocked, it is crucial that you understand the pros and cons. Don't forget that your 401(k) is your retirement nest egg, and you are putting that nest egg into possible jeopardy. If you're thinking of borrowing from your 401(k) to buy a luxury automobile or a larger home, stop. Mortgaging your future to live a lifestyle that's beyond your income, while it's become the American Way, is a mistake. But if you're trying to get out from under high-interest debt and plan to use this opportunity to live within your income, it could be your ticket to becoming debt-free.

Here's how they work: most plans allow you to borrow up to half of your vested balance, but not more than $50,000. You apply to the company that manages your 401(k) plan, but you don't have to "qualify"-after all, you're borrowing money from yourself. You sign a promissory note and receive the money within a couple of weeks. The interest rate is usually equal to the prime rate or slightly over, so currently you'd pay 3-4 percent interest. You then have five years to repay the loan, and most of the time, you make payments through payroll deductions.

Now let's look at the pros and cons of borrowing from your 401(k):


  • A 401(k) loan does not appear on your credit report. They are not reported to Experian, and do not become a part of your credit history.

  • The interest on these loans is some of the lowest out there-right now, 3-4 percent.

  • You're paying yourself the interest, not some bank.

  • You'll get your money more quickly than if you were using another means of borrowing.

  • Since it's a loan, you will not be charged the 10 percent early withdrawal penalties plus income taxes you would have to pay if you withdrew the money.

  • You don't have to qualify for the loan through the usual long, painful credit approval process, because in effect, you are the lender.

  • No assets or collateral are needed to secure the loan.


  • The biggest con is that you are forfeiting the accrued interest you would earn if your money stayed in the 401(k). Calculated over the long term, it can cost tens (even hundreds) of thousands of dollars in potential gain.

  • Unlike a home equity loan, the interest is not tax deductible.

  • Some plans do not allow contributions to the 401(k) for the period of the loan.

  • If you lose or quit your job, the loan is often due in full in 30-60 days (although some plans are open to renegotiating the terms of the loan. Find out before you sign the papers.)

  • If you default on the loan, it is considered a withdrawal and you will owe a 10 percent penalty plus a hefty tax payment. So if you had borrowed $50,000 and couldn't pay it back, you would have to pay a $5,000 penalty and federal and state taxes that could take another $20,000 of the amount.

Please consult with a tax advisor for more information.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Staging Your Home

Why You (May) Need a Stager
By Barbara Gordon
Courtesy: California Association of Realtors

Your home is a treasure trove of your family's personal memories. That's a wonderful thing...unless you're putting your home on the market.

Prospective home buyers, it seems, don't want to see your family's photos and possessions. In fact, they want to see a somewhat depersonalized presentation of your home, which allows them to envision their belongings in your home (sorry) and psychologically move in.

How do you accomplish that? Staging.

Staging is not a new concept, but it's a trend that is gaining in popularity because it has become instrumental to selling homes. In fact, the AT&T Yellow Pages recently added a new heading "Real Estate Staging Service."

Staging Basics
Home staging prepares a home for sale, regardless of its price or location. By accentuating your home's most saleable qualities and minimizing its weaker points, a stager adds a cosmetic "lift" to the property's image and maximizes its sales appeal. Essentially, a stager makes your home attractive to the largest generic audience, enhances a buyer's first impression, and sets the stage for a fast, top-dollar sale.

Statistics suggest a staged house can sell as much as 17 percent higher than an unstaged house, and often sells in half the time.

The cost of professional staging varies according to the amount of elements required. In California, prices range from $200 for a consultation with recommendations to $2,000 to stage a home with multiple cluttered rooms, install furniture and accessories, and provide other extensive services.

Typical Staging Services:
  • Simple home repairs.
  • General cleanup and clutter removal.
  • Landscaping improvements to increase curb appeal.
  • Paint changes.
  • Rearrangement or removal of existing furniture and accessories.
  • Addition of rental furniture and accessories.

Monday, April 02, 2007

6 Things You Must Know Before Obtaining a Mortgage

Mortgage regulations have changed significantly over the last few years, making your options wider than ever. Subtle changes in the way you approach mortgage shopping, and even small differences in the structure of your mortgage, can cost or save you literally thousands of dollars and years of expense.

Whether you are about to buy your first home, or are planning to make a move to your next home, it is critical that you inform yourself about the factors involved.

Industry research has revealed that there are 6 common mistakes that most homebuyers make in mortgage shopping that can have a significant impact on the outcome of this critical negotiation. If handled correctly, these issues could result in a mortgage that will cost you less over a shorter period of time.

Before you commit your hard earned dollars to monthly mortgage payments, consider these 6 issues. Effective consideration of these important areas can make your payments work much harder for you.

1. You can, and should, get preapproved for a mortgage before you go looking for a home. Preapproval is easy, and can give you complete peace-of-mind when shopping for your home. Your local lending institution can provide you with written preapproval for you at no cost and no obligation, and it can all be done quite easily over-the-phone. More than just a verbal approval from your lending institution, a written preapproval is as good as money in the bank. It entails a completed credit application, and a certificate which guarantees you a mortgage to the specified level when you find the home you’re looking for.

2. Know what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to.When you discuss mortgage preapproval with your lending institution, find out what level you qualify for, but also pre-assess for yourself what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to. Your situation may give you a preapproval amount that is higher (or lower) than the amount of money you would want to pay out each month. By working back and forth with your lending institution to determine what this monthly amount is, and what value of home this translates into at today’s rates, you won’t waste time looking at homes that are not in your price range.

3. You should be thinking about your long term goals, and expected situation, to determine the type of mortgage that will best suit your needs. There are a number of questions you should be asking yourself before you commit to a certain type of mortgage. How long do you think you will own this home? What direction are interest rates going in, and how quickly? Is your income expected to change (up or down) in the near term, impacting how much money you can afford to pay to your mortgage? The answers to these and other questions will help you determine the most appropriate mortgage you should be seeking.

4. Make sure you understand what prepayment privileges and payment frequency options are available to you. More frequent payments (for example weekly or biweekly) can literally shave years off your mortgage. Simply by structuring your payments so that they come out more frequently, will significantly lessen the amount of interest that you will be charged over the term. For the same reason, authorized prepayment of a certain percentage of your mortgage, or an increase in the amount you pay monthly, will have a major impact on the number of years you will have to pay and could shorten your payment term considerably. These two payment options can cut years off your mortgage, and save you thousands of dollars in interest. However, not every mortgage has these prepayment privileges built in, so make sure you ask the proper questions.

5. Ask if your mortgage is both portable and/or assumable. A portable mortgage, where available, is one that you can carry with you when you buy your next home and avoid paying any discharge penalties. This means that you will not have to go through the entire mortgage process again unless you are making a move up to a much more expensive home. An assumable mortgage is one that the buyer for your home can take over when you move to your next home. This can be a very powerful tool at the negotiating table making it much easier and more desirable for a buyer to buy your home, and again saves you any discharge penalties.

6. You should seriously consider dealing with a Mortgage Expert. Consider dealing only with a professional who specializes in mortgages. Enlisting their services can make a significant difference in the cost and effectiveness of the mortgage you obtain. For example, they can make the process faster there by avoiding costly delays. Typically there is no cost or obligation to enquire.

To get pre-approved now, contact:

Tom Cortesi with First Financial 1-323-791-8145
Garry Carrington with Wells Fargo Bank 818-674-3064

Once you have a firm understanding on what you can afford, visit my home search site to view all available properties for sale.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

NAR Forsees Short-Term Impact on Housing Market From Subprime Reforms

National Association of Realtors
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2007

Current market problems and reforms in the underwriting and pricing of subprime loans, including the tightening of underwriting standards by regulators, will have a short- term impact on housing markets. That will be lessened if Congress enacts legislation to expand the roles of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration to provide more housing opportunities to lower-income homeowners and those living in high cost metropolitan areas, the National Association of Realtors® said today.

NAR Senior Vice President and Chief Economist David Lereah predicted that tighter underwriting practices may cause total home sales to fall by about 100,000 to 250,000 nationally, or no more than 3 percent a year over the next two years. Many of these households will probably, over time, purchase a home when they have attained the financial capacity to do so by saving for a down payment or growing their income.

“Foreclosures are increasing inventories in certain local markets. The projected flood of foreclosures are problematic and will add to the already loose housing supply in some local markets, but these local markets are exhibiting healthy economic activity, enabling them to be able to absorb increases in foreclosures,” Lereah said.

“From a broader perspective, today’s subprime problems are occurring against a backdrop of cyclically low mortgage rates and a growing, healthy economy. Jobs and liquidity are plentiful in the marketplace, suggesting that the subprime problems may be a manageable problem within our $10 trillion-plus economy,” said Lereah in a commentary distributed to NAR members recently.

“Many of these households will seek mortgage loans from a revitalized FHA, from lenders making loans that meet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac standards, and from other lenders offering fair and affordable mortgage options to subprime borrowers. Remember, many of these borrowers are low-income, minorities and first-time buyers -- all important participants in the home buying marketplace.”

Lereah warned against overreaction to the situation. “Tougher lending standards imposed by the marketplace and the regulators are necessary, but we need to be mindful of overcorrection. Responsible lending practices are what the doctor ordered, not practices that cause a credit crunch,” Lereah said.

Richard's notes... If you are a first time homebuyer and/or need special assistants to purchase a home, here are a few home loan professionals who will be able to help:

Tom Cortesi with First Financial 1-323-791-8145
Garry Carrington with Wells Fargo Bank 818-674-3064

Once you have a firm understanding on what you can afford, visit my home search site to view all available properties for sale.

More Links: