Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cities of the San Fernando Valley

If you're relocating to the San Fernando Valley and want to know which cities are in the valley, the list below will indicate the cities.

Cities in the San Fernando Valley:
Studio City, Toluca Lake, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Valley Village, Valley Glen, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Reseda, Winnetka, Canoga Park, West Hills, Chatsworth, Northridge, North Hills, Panorama City, Arleta, Sun Valley, Sunland, Tujunga, Lakeview Terrace, Pacoima, Mission Hills, Sylmar, Granada Hills, and Chatsworth.

To view the cities I love the most, click this link:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

No Picture? Blame the Listing Agent

The only reason why no property pictures exist or why the pictures displays are poorly taken is because the listing agent is either not doing their job, or doesn't know how to take a half-way decent picture of the property.

Our Realtor MLS system allows agents to upload up to 20 pictures and also add a virtual tour. On average, agents only add around five pictures and only 15% of listings have virtual tour.

So what confuses me is why sellers list their homes with agents who don't market their homes professionally. I think it's because real estate agents think they are doing enough, and sellers who don't know any better.

If you are thinking of selling your home here in the San Fernando Valley, be sure you list with an agent who will maximize the potential reach online and draw as many buyers to your home as possible. This includes a decent amount of professional pictures online and a virtual tour with it's own website.

Here is a great resource for home-sellers here in Sherman Oaks, Encino, Studio City, & Tarzana.

If you own a home in the San Fernando Valley or Santa Clarita Valley, I invite you to sign-up with my Market Snapshot report. This is the most advanced property profile system for home-owners. It's free and only takes a few seconds to see your custom report.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Foreclosures & Rents Going Up

As the graph below demonstrates, the number of bank owned homes in Los Angeles County is growing rapidly. Also, rent is increasing making it possible for renters to purchase affordable single family homes. A 3 bedroom 1 bath bank owned home in Reseda is listed for $285,000. If your renting in Reseda, it may be cheaper for you to purchase a home. Keep in mind their are tax benefits to home ownership.

Some properties even include a guest house. Renting out the guest house will help you lower your monthly mortgage payment making buying a home even more affordable. If your tired of renting, call me 818-730-4128 or visit my bank owned site which lists hundreds of bank owned homes in the San Fernando Valley.

Image Source: Real Estate Research Council
Source: Los Angeles Economic Profile
March 2008
California Association of Realtors

Monday, March 24, 2008

Will Higher Loan Limits Matter?

The following information was sent to me Mark Stipkovich from Lawyers Title.

The huge debate in Washington regarding whether or not conventional loan limits should be raised is over. Those who wanted higher limits won with passage of the new stimulus package, a big deal because higher loan limits mean that big-ticket buyers will be able to get larger loans at less cost.

The conventional loan limit had been $417,000 before the stimulus package was passed. Loans above the limit are regarded as "jumbo" financing, mortgages for which borrowers pay a higher rate of interest.

Now the conventional loan limit will be increased to $729,750, in large measure to stimulate home sales in high-cost areas such as California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and the Washington, DC area.

The FHA loan limit for "high-cost" areas in the lower-48 states will also rise to $729,750, more than twice as much as the old loan limit of $362,790.

The real estate industry has been very much in favor of the higher loan limits, but not everyone agrees.

The Treasury Department opposed higher loan limits because it wanted more regulation for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, huge buyers of local mortgages. Treasury officials worried that bigger loans could equal more risk in the mortgage marketplace, something no one favors.

Regardless of how the debate went, real financial decisions are no longer made just in Washington. To have jumbo mortgages -- to have any mortgages -- there must be investors who buy mortgage-backed securities. The way it works today is that a large percentage of all mortgages are sold by originators, packaged together and then used to back securities which are sold to investors worldwide. The money received from investors is used by lenders to create new loans.

If securities buyers in the Middle East, Europe and Asia don't line up to purchase mortgages with bigger loan limits then it doesn't matter what Washington wants. Without investors, super-jumbo loans simply won't be available at reasonable cost, regardless of what the rules say.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Short Sale Risks

There are many risks involved when purchasing a short sale home. I'm going to discuss the four most important risks when buying a short sale home here in Los Angeles County.

The four biggest difficulties with helping buyers purchase a short sale is working with an agent who doesn't know how to handle a short sale, sellers who abandon the property, lien-holders or lenders who reject the agreed upon amount, and worst of all, the property gets foreclosed on and you can't get your initial deposit back without an attorney.

Working with an agent who doesn't know how to handle a short sale:
As many of you already know, there are agents who will list a short sale home in the San Fernando Valley and not know how to handle the transaction to a successful close. The only person who really loses is the owner who trusted this agent who really didn't know what he/she was doing. This can leave the owner in financial ruin and a possibly legal action from lenders and tax liability to the government.

It's important when choosing an agent to list your home as a short sale or when buying a short sale home that you are working with an agent who specializes in this type of transaction.

Sellers Who Abandon the Property Before Escrow Closes:
This was a topic of discussion on my last office meeting. Keep in mind when buying a short sale home, it's possible the owner is also in default (hasn't paid their mortgage payment for over 3 months) which can also mean they're in financial disaster. If you place an initial deposit in escrow and the seller abandons the house or the lender forecloses on the house, you will have to possibly hire an attorney to get your initial deposit back. The cost of suing would probably cost more than the money you placed in escrow (in most cases).

An example: You find a short sale home in Sherman Oaks listed at $500K which the real market value is $650K. Your agent tells you this home is a short sale and also advises you if the home is in default and when that default occurred. You negotiate the price of the house and place 3% in escrow which equally $15,000. Knowing that the owner is losing their home and hasn't made payments for many months, you move ahead with the escrow. After escrow is opened and all lien-holders accept the deal, the owner disappears and nobody can find them - even the listing agent. Unfortunately, your $15,000 is in escrow and without the other party, your money will not be released.

How can you prevent this from happening to you? Work with a professional. A professional will do their due-diligence and not put their clients in a risky situation.

Lenders Who Reject the Deal:
Just because the owners accept your offer, doesn't mean the deal is going to happen. The final word belongs to the lenders. In a short sale, it's the lenders who are going to lose money so they will either accept your deal or counter you a higher amount based on what they think the house is really worth.

The Property Get's Foreclosed On:
Before writing an offer on a short sale which is also in default, it's important to know how far along the owner is in the pre-foreclosure process. It's fairly easy for a professional real estate agent to check the status of any home. This can be done online and also through a preliminary title report. Before writing an offer on any short sale, be sure you don't buy a home that's going to be foreclosures within the next 60 days. Their are some instances where the lenders will agree to postpone foreclosure.

Written by: Richard M. Johnston
Short Sale & Bank Owned Specialist

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Los Angeles Contractor

A great service I came across recently is a company called Reliable Remodeler. You simply input your information and the type of job you need done on your home, and the system will find you a local professionals who will bid on the job. It's a great service for those homeowners who are looking remodel their kitchen, bathrooms, landscaping, painting, etc... here in Los Angeles.

Find Local Contractors

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