Thursday, July 31, 2008

Legislative News & Updates - Buy a Home & Get $7500 Tax Credit

After, the House and Senate passed H.R. 3221, the "Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008", President Bush signed the legislation into law on Wednesday, July 30. This legislation contains a number of victories for REALTORS® and American homeowners including GSE reform, FHA reform, permanent loan limit increases, and a $7500 homeowner tax credit which went into effect immediately upon the President's signature. This bill will help homeowners facing foreclosure find ways to refinance, and will help strengthen mortgage markets Click here to Read more...

To view available homes for sale visit:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Loss Leader Homes - Why Listings Don't Sell

Loss leader refers to a listing which never sells and only benefits the listing agent. These homes sit on the market for months and even hundreds of days without selling. The agent benefits because home owners in the neighborhood think the agent does big business when in fact most of their listings never sell. You can find an agent like this who make outrageous claims about buying your home after X number of days or selling your home for free when buying one of their other listings.

The agent takes ANY listing and usually at a price the seller thinks they can get for the home or hopes to get - usually unrealistic. The agent benefits from having buyers call about the home which then the agent tries to sell a more realistically priced home in the neighborhood.

You can probably find a loss leader within a few minutes by search the MLS. They are the ones with no or poor quality pictures and a description with just a few words. We all know the biggest factors which cause a home not to sell is price, location, condition of home, and accessibility. Marketing a home correctly with quality pictures is important because 90% of home-buyers start looking online.

I really don't understand why a home-owner would hire an agent who doesn't have any intention of selling their home professionally and quickly. The entire purpose of listing a home is to sell it for top dollar and only this can be achieved if the home is priced right, accessible, and market correctly to the general public and to other Realtors.

More articles you should read:
Selling Your Home? A Realtors Perspective
No Picture? Blame the Listing Agent

If you're thinking of selling your home or haven't received the results you were promised, call an agent who's intention is to sell your home.

Written By: Richard Johnston, RE/MAX OTB

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Celebrities in Sherman Oaks - Paris Hilton & Joel Madden

I was driving on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks when I spotted Paris Hilton and Joel Madden having lunch at Fatburger. Here is the image ;-). It's funny how many celebrities I see every day in Sherman Oaks.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Bottom is Near

Are you looking for the real estate bottom? Guess what? The bottom is near and approaching quickly. If you are timing the market here in the San Fernando Valley, your wait is over.

Currently, we are in a VERY STRONG BUYERS MARKET.

The only people buying now are the cash investors, buyers who have 15-30% down, and home-buyers who can qualify for an FHA loan (3% down).

Unfortunately, it's getting harder for the average home-buyer to get a home loan. Most people cannot qualify for an FHA loan because either they don't make enough money or make enough but in a form which is not documented. Also, asking a stated income and asset buyer to invest 30% in a home just to secure a home-loan is difficult. Most people don't have that kind of money.

It's obvious that some areas of the valley and in certain price ranges have bottomed-out already. The banks are getting more eager to unload their properties quickly. This is leading to discounted bank owned homes selling within a few days.

For example, within the past month, I've noticed bank owned homes in Sherman Oaks selling in the high 400's. This was unheard of just a few years ago when the same house was selling in the mid 600's.

Plus, not all areas of the San Fernando Valley have experienced price decline equally. In less affluent neighborhoods, home-priced have plummeted up to 60% off it's market high just a few short years ago. In wealthy areas like Studio City & Sherman Oaks, home-prices have fallen an average of 25%. So it always pays to buy a home in a wealthy neighborhood - less market volatility.

If you are ready to purchase a home now, the first step is to get pre-approved for a home loan. Getting pre-approved for a home loan is required if you are considering purchasing a bank owned home. Simply having good credit and cash in the bank doesn't make you a candidate for a home loan.

Written by:
Richard Johnston, RE/MAX OTB
Burbank real estate home specialist

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Luxury Homes in the San Fernando Valley

Below is a link to luxury homes and the number of luxury homes priced above $1.25 million. This list is update daily so be sure to bookmark the link.

Studio City Luxury Homes - 54 homes
Encino Luxury Homes - 71 homes
Sherman Oaks Luxury Homes - 92 homes
Tarzana Luxury Homes - 64 homes
Toluca lake Luxury Homes - 20 homes
Burbank Luxury Homes - 14 homes
Valencia Luxury Homes - 17 homes
Woodland Hills Luxury Homes - 56 homes
Calabasas Luxury Homes - 123 homes

Saturday, July 05, 2008

5 Reasons to BUY Real Estate NOW!

It’s time to start considering a re-entry into the real estate market. After all, simple supply and demand dictates it is a buyer’s — and investor’s — market.

Many savvy real estate investors have made excellent returns by moving against the trend with careful market timing. The thought process is simple: When everybody is buying, it’s time to sell. And, when everyone is selling, it’s time to consider buying.

Here are five market conditions that have investors thinking today just might be the perfect time to buy real estate.

No. 1 – Low prices

Prices are down in most real estate markets across the country. In fact, the national median existing home price for all housing types was down 7.7 percent from a year ago, to $200,700 in March from $217,400 during the same month last year, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). In many markets, the drop is even more substantial, especially when you compare with 2006 prices.

Greed is one of the biggest culprits keeping buyers on the sidelines. They are hesitant to buy now because prices may continue to drop. No one wants to buy a $210,000 home and see its value drop to $190,000 in six to 12 months.

Though this is a valid concern, it can be minimized with careful research of a specific market. You can further ensure your investment will hold value by making an offer that is 10 percent to 15 percent below the current market value.

The days of bidding wars and escalation clauses are gone. Homes are no longer selling for more than market value, and sellers are lucky to get the list price. Now is the time to invest in a real bargain.

No. 2 – Great selection

The housing inventory is on the rise, meaning there are more homes available for sale. According to NAR, it will take more than nine months to sell the national inventory of homes at the current sales pace. In some markets, such as South Florida, there is more than a 16-month supply of homes.

In addition to lower prices, this large inventory means a greater selection for buyers. As an investor, you can look for a home with the features, amenities, and favorable location you desire. By getting in the market now, you can afford to be particular and take your time finding exactly what you want.

No. 3 – Motivated sellers

When faced with the possibility that their house could sit on the market for a year or more, sellers become motivated to work with prospective buyers. Not to mention the fact that the already sodden market is being further deluged with an increase in foreclosures, short sales, and bank-owned properties, providing sellers even more motivation to be flexible so they can sell their properties.

Seller motivation extends far beyond accepting a lower offer. Sellers today will consider owner financing, where the buyer makes payments to the seller over time for all or a portion of the purchase price. Sellers are also more likely to agree to repairs or improvements requested by a buyer or recommended by a property inspector.

No longer in the driver’s seat, sellers are now agreeable to covering a portion of closing costs, buying down the rate, accepting a trade for the down payment, or throwing in new appliances and even furniture in the sale. In short, sellers will now negotiate.

No. 4 – Favorable interest rates

Interest rates are down, making housing more affordable. With the national average rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage at around 6 percent, a buyer can save thousands over time. For example, a $200,000 loan amortized over 30 years at 5.9 percent interest will carry a monthly principal and interest payment of $1,186.27.

Let’s say you’re waiting for the price to drop, however, and you buy the property for $190,000. Sure, you’ve saved $10,000 initially, but in the meantime the interest rate climbs to 7 percent, and your monthly payment increases to $1,264.07. By missing out on the lower interest rate today, you pay an extra $28,008 over the 30-year life of the loan.

In case it bears repeating, now is the time to obtain a fixed-rate amortized loan. There is no reason to take on the risk of an adjustable rate mortgage when interest rates are at historical lows. Also keep in mind that lenders are going back to more traditional underwriting requirements in light of increased delinquencies. This means tougher restrictions on the amount of the down payment, proof of income, and credit scores will make obtaining a loan more difficult. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, seller financing, and lease options are on the increase as alternative financing options to conventional loans.

No. 5 – Rental opportunities

As overblown real estate prices begin to deflate, investors will find they can begin collecting rents that cover all their monthly expenses. It was difficult to find and purchase a rental property that would cash flow at the previously over-inflated prices, but today’s bargains can make a cash-flowing rental realistic once again.

Further, tenant demand for rental properties is on the rise. And with foreclosure filings up 57 percent and bank repossessions up 129 percent over last year, according to RealtyTrac, the rental demand is likely to increase further as people who have lost their homes to foreclosure look for alternative places to live.

And most people who find themselves in this situation will be forced to rent for five to seven years before they can qualify for bank financing to purchase their own home again.

Making the decision

Although there are compelling reasons to consider buying real estate now, it is always important to weigh the pros against the cons.

To help alleviate indecision, follow these rules:

1. Look at values in the local area to see if they’ve stabilized or if they still appear to be in a downward spiral. Only buy in stable areas.

2. If you’re buying a personal home, be sure to plan on living in the house for at least the next three to five years.

3. When buying real estate as an investment, be certain the property cash flows, with rental income exceeding expenses such as the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and other costs.

4. Finally, analyze your economic stability and only buy what you can comfortably afford. Keep at least three months of living expenses in reserve in preparation for that fabled rainy day.

With a little common sense and thorough homework, you’ll likely find that now is a great time to consider buying real estate. Markets are cyclical, and the current combination of low prices, high inventory, low rates, motivated sellers, and increasing rental demand make it a buyer’s market for bargain shoppers.

Source: Growing Wealth

1,100 Bank Owned Homes For Sale

If you are searching for a bank owned home in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas, has a list of over 1,100 bank owned homes. The site is update daily so be sure to bookmark the cities and return daily for an updated list.

No other site in the San Fernando Valley provides a free list of available bank owned homes. This site is dedicated to investors, first-time home buyers, and those people looking to purchase homes up to 50% of what they were selling for just over a year ago.

If you're serious about buying a bank owned home in the San Fernando Valley, visit: to view the free list.

Written by:
Richard Johnston, RE/MAX

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

July 2008 San Fernando Valley Real Estate Newsletter

July 2008 San Fernando Valley Real Estate Newsletter

1. MARKET BOTTOM? Why Smart Home Buyers Are No Longer Waiting To Buy In today's new real estate market the time for hesitation is past. Now is the time for action. To take advantage of the new market, the reality is clear—don't wait... read more.

2. 5 Questions Every Savvy Home Buyer Should Be Asking Now... read more.

3. How To Sell Short Fast - When homeowners find themselves on the short-track to foreclosure, many will choose to sell their homes in a “short-sale” transaction—selling for less than the mortgage amount still owed to the lender. A short sale prevents the owner from going through the trauma of foreclosure and eviction... read more.

4. How To Minimize Interest Rate On Investment Property - With low interest rates and many attractive loan programs available today on residential real estate, now may be the perfect time to buy an investment property or second home. Be aware, though, that lenders charge somewhat higher... read more.

5. Good Credit Behavior Now Rewarded In New FICO Formula - Even as lenders take a closer look at loan applications, the company that developed the model for credit scoring—Fair Isaac Corporation—has decided to modify its formula in a way that will reward responsible borrowers... read more.
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