Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year 2008 - San Fernando Valley Residents

Happy New Year!! 2008 is going to be a great year to buy a bank owned home. There are some really great bank owned homes in Reseda. You can buy a 3 bedroom 2 bath home in Reseda in the high 300Ks. If your still renting, make it an effort to get into a single family home in the San Fernando Valley.

Have a great year!


Richard Johnston, RE/MAX OTB Estates
Bank Owned Specialist - REO
San Fernando Valley

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hiring a Professional - Why it Matters

I'm sure as many of you know, trying to save money by hiring the cheapest Realtor is NOT a good idea. But you can also argue that even hiring the best can come with problems.

How do you choose the right agent for you? Well, you don't want to hire the first agent you meet. You want to meet with at least three San Fernando Valley real estate agents before making a decision.

One mistake I made before I got into the real estate business is hiring the best local Realtor for the lowest commission. Man, Did I regret my decision! In fact, he wouldn't even let me cancel the agreement and list with someone else. I was unhappy but at the last minute a buyer came through offering me the asking price which was $5,000 more than his suggested price.

Whomever you choose to list your San Fernando Valley home with, be sure that you have the right to cancel the agreement if your unhappy with the performance of the agent. You don't want to be stuck with an agent who sucks. Believe me, there are many agents who suck. Have the cancellation written into the agreement at the time the listing is taken.

Let me give you some examples of agents who do a poor job:

1. Only displaying a few pictures online.
2. No virtual tour with domain.
3. Poorly written description.
4. No flyer's on the outside sign.
5. Doesn't answer the phone.
6. Other agents can't get a hold of your agent.
7. Doesn't market the home online. (craigslist, google base, msn live, etc...)
8. Thinks the old ways of doing business is the way its done.
9. Holds open houses knowing there is a less than 1% chance the house will sell that way.
10. Takes more than a few hours to reply to email.
11. Doesn't do text messaging.

One thing I like to remind all of my sellers is that 90%+ of home-buyers start their home search online. If the agent isn't maximizing the online marketplace to promote your home, 90% of home-buyers are skipping over your home and viewing the ones which are promoted by Realtors who are also Internet marketing specialist, like me.

A Realtor who is classified as an San Fernando Valley real estate Internet marketing specialist will also hold the "e-Pro" designation. This ensures that your working with someone who knows the Internet very well and will promote your home effectively online.

To search for bank owned homes up to 50% off market value, visit:


Richard M. Johnston, GRI, ABR, e-Pro

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is it a good time to buy a home in the San Fernando Valley?

Yes! Buying a home in the slow months of November and December can help you save $$$ on your next home purchase. Why? Because while everybody is out Christmas shopping and planning for the new years party, savvy home buyers are buying homes that have sat on the market for many months.

The number of bank owned homes has increased dramatically too. A bank owned site which instantly displays all bank owned homes in the San Fernando Valley can be found by visiting

Keep in mind that in order to find a great deal, you have to be willing to dedicate yourself to a bank owned specialist. You should also get pre-approved because when a good deal comes through, you want to be prepared to write an offer.

How do you determine how low the bank will go on the price?

I always tell my clients that you'll never know unless you try. Some listing agents will hint to what the home will most likely sell for. But keep in mind low-balling a seller can sometimes undermine your credibility and embarrass your agent. If you look at 5-7 homes in the local area, you'll have an idea on what the home is worth and will sell for.

What information will let you know how much negotiation power you have over price?

The first thing you want to look at is how long the home has been on the market and how many times the price has been reduced. The reason a house continues to sit on the market is because of price and condition. I believe price is always more important than condition but as far as homes which are completely updated, they always sell quickly and at a premium.

Can anyone buy a bank owned home?

Yes, buying a San Fernando Valley bank owned home is easy and can save you up to 50% off market value. Just keep in mind that it can take several weeks to get a response from the bank as they are inundated with foreclosures. Also be sure you are working with an Bank Owned REO specialist. You can search for bank owned homes at

Do you have bank owned pocket listings?

Yes! This is what sets me apart from most other bank owned agents. I have access to bank owned homes which are not even in the MLS. Pocket listings are homes which are not on the mls yet but will be soon.

If your a serious home buyer and want to save up to 50% off on your next home purchase, call me at 818-730-4128.


Richard Johnston, RE/MAX
Bank Owned REO Specialist - San Fernando Valley

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Help On The Way From The FHA

On August 31, 2007, President Bush announced a new Federal Housing Administration (FHA) plan to help an estimated 240,000 families avoid foreclosure. Under the new "FHASecure" plan, FHA will allow families with strong credit histories who had been making timely mortgage payments before their loans reset--but are now in default--to qualify for refinancing.
In addition, FHA will implement risk-based premiums that match the borrower's credit profile with the insurance premium they pay (i.e., riskier borrowers pay more.) The risk-based pricing structure will begin on January 1, 2008.

Bringing Stability To The Market

The combination of FHASecure and risk-based premium pricing will permit FHA to return to the role it was originally designed to play, bringing stability to the real estate market by helping break today's cycle of foreclosures and price depreciation and creating much needed liquidity in the now-constricted mortgage market.

According to the FHA, the number of conventional borrowers refinancing into FHA products has tripled since the start of 2006, with the FHA projecting its transactions will surpass 100,000 loans by the end of the fiscal year. (As of this writing, these figures do not include refinances for delinquent borrowers.)

The FHASecure initiative will operate under the same safe guidelines as the FHA's existing mortgage insurance program without affecting FHA's financial health. Eligible homeowners will be required to meet strict underwriting guidelines and pay a mortgage insurance premium, which offsets the risk to FHA's insurance fund at no cost to the taxpayer.

New Structure Expands FHA's Reach

The risk-based insurance premium structure will further expand FHA's reach to additional underserved borrowers, particularly first-time home buyers and others who have disproportionately taken out exotic mortgages, and enhance the FHA's overall risk management. The move to risk-based premiums ensures that FHA remains on solid financial footing as a self-financed agency for the long-term.

FHASecure, like all FHA products, will be underwritten to ensure the borrowers have the ability to repay the loan, will require escrow for taxes and insurance, and will continue to offer unprecedented foreclosure prevention assistance. The FHA has never permitted and will not include pre-payment penalties or teaser rates that are common in exotic mortgages and have caused much of the current market troubles.

Who Qualifies

To qualify for FHASecure, eligible homeowners must meet the following five criteria:

  1. A history of on-time mortgage payments before the borrower's teaser rates expired and loans reset;

  2. Interest rates must have or will reset between June 2005 and December 2009;

  3. Three percent cash or equity in the home;

  4. A sustained history of employment; and

  5. Sufficient income to make the mortgage payment.

FHASecure will also bring much-needed liquidity to the mortgage market. FHA anticipates more lenders will offer FHA-insured loans, pool them, and securitize them with the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), which has the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. This guarantee makes Ginnie Mae's mortgage-backed securities among the safest on the market and helps to channel greater capital into the housing market, benefiting U.S. homeowners.

Learn More

For more information about FHASecure and other FHA products, call 1-800-CALL-FHA or visit or For a list of your local home-ownership center or a HUD-approved housing counseling center, see

More Links: