Monday, April 28, 2008

Home Sales Post Upward Trend

Southland Regional Assocation of Realtors
Homes are selling in the San Fernando Valley with activity gradually picking up on a month-to-month basis and the number of properties in escrow suggesting the trend will continue through the coming months.
A total of 416 single-family homes changes owners during March, up 16.2 percent from February. While sales were down 46.0 percent from a year ago, activity has been trending up since October with March being the third consecutive month of increased resale activity.
"If this trend continues," said Mary Funk, president of the Association, 'it suggests we may have passed the bottom of this cycle with the worst behind us."

Pending escrows, a measure of future activity, supported the perspective: down from a year ago, but up from month-to-month. There were a total of 853 transactions in escrow at the end of March, a mere 4.6 percent lower than a year ago, yet up 12.4 percent from February tally.

The Association also reported 151 condominium sales during March. That was down 53.4 percent from March 2007, but up 42 transactions or 38.5 percent from February. March also marked the third consecutive month of increased condo resale activity.

"After flatlining late last year, the patient most assuredly is showing a pulse," said Jim Link, the Association's chief executive officer. "We're witnessing a slow, steady increase in activity that seems likely to continue to gain momentum."

Link and Funk agreed that any increase in sales is likely to come at a slower pace than might be expected because of the presence of foreclosures, which take longer to close escrow than a traditional home sale.

Bank owned properties may present an opportunity for buyers - although price declines are not nearly as steep as some buyers expect - but Link and Funk said buyers who focus solely on foreclosures may well be missing other opportunities.

Negotiating with a motivated seller, whose home is priced competitively from the beginning, may yield a superior bargain and a faster, smoother escrow than a foreclosure," Link said. "Plus, the condition of the home in a traditional purchase often is better than a foreclosures, which typically are sold 'as-is,' offering zero opportunity to negotiate for repairs or concessions in price."

"It will take some time for foreclosures to work their way through the system and only then will prices stabilize," funk said. "However, with each sale, the negative impact of foreclosures on prices will decrease."

While the inventory of homes is dramatically higher than the less than one-month-supply common during the boom market, it is nowhere near the record levels set during the national recession of the early 1990s.

A total of 7,193 properties were listed for sale throughout the San Fernando Valley at the end of March. That was up 26.6 percent from a year ago and 1.5 percent higher than February.

At the current pace of sales, the inventory represents a 12.7-month supply - clearly a buyers' market, but well below the 20 plus-month supply seen during the early 90s.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24, 1915 - Armenian Genocide Day

Today we remember the Armenian Genocide day - April 24, 1915 where close to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire now known today as the Republic of Turkey.

To learn more about the atrocities committed against the Armenian people, visit:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Real Estate Prices Down & Rents Are Up

Los Angeles County rents are up 4% since March 31, 2007.
Source: The Associated Press

Here is a very useful link:
Is it Better To Buy or Rent? Click Here.

If you have $$$, good credit and a good job, what are you waiting for? The market has declined anywhere from 10-50% in the San Fernando Valley. In certain areas, single family homes are selling below the cost of condos just a few years ago.

The areas with the largest price depreciation are: Van Nuys, Canoga Park, Reseda, Winnetka, North Hollywood, Granada Hills, Panorama City, and more! This is the perfect time to buy a home and secure a great financial future.

If your tired of renting, visit: . You can view homes by location, then price. It's free and the site is updated daily.

For a free list of bank owned homes, visit:

Written by: Richard Johnston, RE/MAX OTB

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stop Foreclosure in Los Angeles

Foreclosure fraud is growing by leaps-and-bounds! It's important you are working with a real estate professional in Los Angeles who can help you sell your home. There are many things you can do first as a homeowner even if you haven't paid your mortgage payment for many months and a Notice of Default has been filed on title.

First, contact the lenders on title and explain to them your financial situation. They will ask you to provide some documentation (bank statement, pay-stub, etc...) to determine what can be done to lower your monthly payment.

Second, contact a Realtor in the San Fernando Valley who will provide a free comparable market analysis of your home. This will help you understand what your home is worth and how much equity you will have. If you owe more than your home's value, you will have to sell your home short with the lender taking the loss. Keep in mind to work with a Short Sale Specialist.

Third, contact a senior loan officer who maybe able to refinance you to a lower-priced loan with affordable payments. Be sure you are working with a professional mortgage broker. I have a preferred list of people I can recommend, call me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

San Fernando Valley Video

A recent Video created for home buyers searching for bank owned homes in the Studio City & Sherman Oaks areas. I hope you like it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

10% Down Payment! Who's Got That?

The lending industry has got the San Fernando Valley real estate market in a tail-spin. Home prices have most likely declined 20-40% since the height of the market back in mid-2006(depending on where you live). There's even talk about another 10-15% price drop. Wow!

We all know that first-time home-buyers are the driving force of the marketplace. Without them, home-owners can't sell to buy higher priced homes which eventually will cause a domino-effect reaching the million dollar+ homes.

Unfortunately, most first time home-buyers not only can't afford the average priced home here in the San Fernando Valley (even with the decline in price), getting a home-loan has become extremely difficult. Not only has 100% financing loans disappeared, if you plan to state your income, expect to shell out 10% down. Yikes!

Looking back to mid-2007, I recall selling a bank owned home with 100% financing in a great area of Panorama City. Not only was this home priced below market value (10-15%), my client was able to obtain 100% financing and also seller credits to pay for escrow and title fees ($12K).

If my client had waited an entire year to call me, she would have been subjected to a 10% down (stated income) payment and additional reserves. This is money she definitely wouldn't have had and would have prevented her from purchasing a home. Think about many first time-home buyers have 50-75K in the bank to buy a 500K home?

Even though her property value might have dropped 10-15% since she purchased the home mid-2007, she purchased a bank owned home with no money down and no closing costs paid. BTW, the bank owned home in Panorama City was already priced 10-15% below market value. So I guess she is even at this point and got into her dream home with no money down!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Listed Price vs. Market Value in a Declining Market

Pricing your home in a declining market is extremely important. If you price your home above the market value in a declining market, you will ride the market down. The only way is to make a major price reduction as outlined in the graph below.

It's important your home is priced correctly so you're either at or a little below the market value. Let's face it, people are looking for good deals and with the glut of available homes on the market, pricing your home above what it's worth will eventually cost you more money and time!

If your thinking of selling in the next few months, you can stay on top of the market by subscribing to my San Fernando Valley market snapshot . If your ready to sell now, call me!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lease-Options Are Back for the San Fernando Valley

Lease-Options Are Back for the San Fernando Valley

A lease-option is utilized when a potential buyer wants to lease or rent the property with an option to buy it at a later date. The potential buyer pays separate consideration for the option to purchase at a later date to remain open for a specified period of time. If the potential buyer does not exercise the option, or does not purchase the property within the option time period, then the potential seller keeps the option consideration and retains the property.

Generally, lease-options are done in a slower real estate market as we have now, where the seller cannot simply sell the property outright. In this situation, a buyer, who may not have enough money for a down payment, can lease the property while they accumulate the money for a down payment. Often, a portion of the monthly payment by the potential buyer will go toward the down payment.

The option agreement must designate a price or state the price that will be determined by some objective standard when the option is exercised. Because the parties have enterted into a binding agreement, the potential buyer may sue for specific performance on the option, requiring the seller the potential seller to sell the property to the potential buyer under the terms of the agreement.

Richard's Notes: With the price of homes declining, if you're thinking of purchasing a home through an option-lease, I suggest your contract state the home's future value be priced with the market value which will be appraised at the time of the end of the option lease.

If you own a home in the San Fernando Valley and are thinking of selling via option-lease, please call me.

Richard Johnston, RE/MAX OTB

Friday, April 11, 2008

Not There Yet for Buyers & Sellers

Prices are down, rates are still low, but the only factor which is causing the market to decline is the inability for home-buyers especially first time home-buyers to secure a loan.

The FHA has moved in where the sub-prime market exited the industry last August. Unfortunately, the FHA have moved a little to slow which is causing a rapid price depreciation in the San Fernando Valley.

To help stabilize the real estate market in the San Fernando Valley and prevent further price depreciation, the lending industry and the FHA who insure these loans need to provide affordable fixed loans but also loosen their debt to income ratio allowing buyers to purchase more expensive homes at favorable interest rates. Possibly having a states FHA loan program with 3% down with a minimum credit score of 620 should help stabilize the housing market.

Affordability is definitely getting better but if the money is not readily available to purchase an average priced home here in the San Fernando Valley, then we will continue to see price depreciation across the board and a glut of homes on the market. Keep in mind there is a domino-effect taking place with more expensive homes falling victim to foreclosure and short sale.

The housing downturn is also causing opportunities for ready, willing & able buyers to secure a favorable interest rate and also purchase a home 30-50% off market value. It's common to see buyers write offers up to $100K below asking price.

If you are in the market to purchase a home, the first step is to get you pre-approved with an FHA insured loan. The second step is to visit the sites listed below to search for available bank owned and short sale homes selling at deep discounts.

Links you should bookmark:
San Fernando Valley Bank Owned homes
San Fernando Valley Short Sales

Keep in mind that some sellers are competing with bank owned homes and short sales allowing you to purchase a home directly from the seller at bank owned prices. Visit: to view all the homes for sale including short sales, pre-foreclosures, bank owned and more!

Written by:
Richard Johnston, RE/MAX OTB Estate

Saturday, April 05, 2008

North Hills Short Sale

** New Listing in North Hills **
14801 Needles Street

** Short Sale ** 3 bedroom, 2 bath home nestled in a residential area of North Hills. This traditional home includes a front porch, in ground spa, detached 2 car garage, covered patio, master bedroom with sliding door, updated bathroom, and spacious kitchen. This home must be sold, all offers considered. Contact Richard M. Johnston, RE/MAX OTB Estates for a private showing. 818-730-4128

Property address: 14801 Needles St., North Hills, CA 91343
To view all the short sale homes in North Hills and the San Fernando Valley, click here.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

San Fernando Valley Short Sale Homes

Hi Everyone! I'm happy to announce that I have launched my short sale website for the San Fernando Valley & Santa Clarita Valley. You can instantly view available short sale homes for sale with no sign-in required. If you're a first time home-buyer or an investor, you might want to consider purchasing a short sale home. There are risks involved, but working with the right agent will ensure the protection of your initial deposit and a successful purchase.

The links are below. Be sure to bookmark the page.
Canoga Park short sale homes
Woodland Hills short sale homes
Calabasas short sale homes
West Hills short sale homes
North Hills short sale homes
Northridge short sale homes
Winnetka short sale homes
Chatsworth short sale homes
Granada Hills short sale homes
Panorama City short sale homes
Valencia short sale homes
Stevenson Ranch short sale homes
Thousand Oaks short sale homes

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Statistics on Searching for Homes Online

Here is a graph I received by email from displaying the percentage of people starting their home search online. Because the graph ends in 2006, I'm predicting 90-95% of people start searching online in 2008. What all this means is that if you don't list your home with a real estate agent who is also an internet marketing specialist, your missing out on virtually all of the buyers.
If your starting your search online and want the privacy without disclosing your personal information, visit: . You can search by location then price here in the San Fernando Valley. No sign-up is required.

More Links: