Wednesday, March 31, 2010

$18,000 in Combined Homebuyer Tax Credits for a Limited Time


Californians have a brief window of opportunity to receive up to $18,000 in combined federal and state homebuyer tax credits. To take advantage of both tax credits, a first-time homebuyer must enter into a purchase contract for a principal residence before May 1, 2010, and close escrow between May 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010, inclusive. Buyers who are not first-time homebuyers may use the same timeframes to receive up to $16,500 in combined tax credits if they are long-time residents of their existing homes as permitted under federal law, and they purchase properties that have never been previously occupied as provided under California law.

Under the federal law slated to soon expire, a first-time homebuyer may receive up to $8,000 in tax credits, and a long-time resident may receive up to $6,500, for certain purchase contracts entered into by April 30, 2010 that close escrow by June 30, 2010. Additionally, under a newly enacted California law, a homebuyer may receive up to $10,000 in tax credits as a first-time homebuyer or buyer of a property that has never been occupied. The new California law applies to certain purchases that close escrow on or after May 1, 2010 (see Cal. Rev. & Tax Code section 17059.1(a)(4)). California law generally allows buyers of never-occupied properties to reserve their credits before closing escrow, but buyers seeking to combine the federal and state tax credits will not be able to satisfy the timing requirements for such reservations (see Cal. Rev. & Tax Code section 17059.1(c)(1)(A)). Other terms and restrictions apply to both tax credits.

Don't miss-out on this money!  Start your home search by visiting:

Still Homeless? How to Buy a Home in Today's Market!

Why you still don't own home...

If you find yourself homeless even after writing many offers on homes in the San Fernando Valley, the problem is not the market but you.

Here are the steps you need to take if you plan to get into a home priced below $550,000 in today's real estate market:

1. Have a pre-approval letter from a direct lender.  A direct lender is a major bank: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc...

2. You need to have 20% down payment or more.  Being approved for a conventional loan is better than being approved for an FHA loan.  Money talks in this market so if you have none, you'll find yourself outbid every time.  Listing agents are more likely to favor offers from big cash down buyers and all cash down buyers.

3. You need to have an open mind. One thing you cannot change is the location.  If the location is good and the layout of the home is okay, write an offer.  Being picky is not going to get you into a house.

4. Depending on your price range, you will need to have flexibility with your loan approval.   If you are maxed out at a price range and the homes are selling for more even if they are priced below, you'll never get into a home. 

Things to know...

1. You'll never know the true market dynamics by sitting in front of your computer searching for homes.  It's a different ball-game when you are out there in the trenches. 

3. The asking price could not be in line with reality.  Any agent who under-prices a home more than 10% is not serving the seller well and is causing confusion in with home-buyers.

There are strategies...

Not every San Fernando Valley real estate agents works the same.  If you are a ready, willing, and able buyer ready to buy now, call me 818-730-4128.  I'm serious about your success in getting you into a home and you should be too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moving to the San Fernando Valley? Special Offer!

Are you moving to the San Fernando Valley?  You're definitely going to want to buy a home through me for the month of April. Besides the $8,000 first time home-buyer tax credit, I'll be paying for your home inspection and appraisal too.  Wow!

The appraisal and home inspection together can cost anywhere from $700 to $1000 - depending on the home*.  Please call me for details as this offer will expire on April 30, 2010.  That's also when the $8,000 tax credit expires too.

To start searching for your next home, visit:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

San Fernando Valley Homes Under $500,000

You've waited for the right moment to purchase your dream home.  Guess what?  The San Fernando Valley real estate market is HOT and homes priced under $500,000 are selling within days.  Multiple offers and over-bidding is the norm.  If you are an FHA home-buyer, you'll be competing with buyers with conventional loans and investors who are paying all cash.

Chances are, the seller is going to take a non-FHA loan if all else is equal.  An FHA loan has some drawbacks including the house has to pass their inspection and the home needs to get appraised. With all the over-bidding and offers, the chance of having the deal fall-apart for an appraisal that doesn't come through is high for an FHA home-buyer in the San Fernando Valley.

Some home-buyer thought by waiting after April 30, 2010, which is the deadline to have a deal signed by buyer and seller to get the $8,000 tax credit, the real estate market would tank.  Unfortunately for them, the Governer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, passed a $200,000,000 million dollar tax credit for first time buyers who purchase a new or an existing home (older home).  You can read more about it here:

I do believe that banks have too many non-performing assets that need to be sold asap.  This shadow inventory, which I believe is the end result of all the failed loan modification attempts, will add a lot of foreclosure inventory to the marketplace.  But with buyer demand strong, those homes would be sold quickly.

Also, what you read and hear can be very different when you actually start viewing homes and writing offers.  Call me for a free real estate consultation at my real estate office in Tarzana.

Richard Johnston, ReMax

Friday, March 26, 2010

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs $10,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit Legislation

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs $10,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit Legislation

The state of California has re-established and extended a $10,000 homebuyer tax credit.

The new law, AB 183, signed today by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, allocates $200 million to the credit for homes purchased between May 1 and Dec. 31, and between Dec. 31 and August 1, 2011.

AB 183 was passed by the legislature on March 22 and gives the Franchise Tax Board authority to extend a total of $200 million in tax credits to California homebuyers; $100 million for buyers of new, unoccupied homes and another $100 million for first-time buyers of existing homes. The credit will be extended from May 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010. The tax credit will be available to buyers on a first-come, first-served basis and is applied in equal amounts over a period of three taxable years. To qualify, the buyer must not be a dependant and must purchase a home that does not belong to a relative.

Learn more here...

If you are relocating to the San Fernando Valley, I'll work hard to find you the right home. Call me anytime and let's make your next move a smart one.

Thanks for reading!

Richard Johnston, ReMax

Win/Win Situation for Fixer Properties in the San Fernando Valley

The credit crunch has made fixing and upgrading a home difficult in the San Fernando Valley - especially for equity sellers.  A few years back, asking the bank for a $100,000 loan was easy. Most people simply used the money to make some home repairs and upgrades, but in reality most used the money to take vacations and purchase expensive personal items.

Today, walking into the local bank to ask for money to fix your property for resale may be difficult if not impossible to get.  Banks have been cutting lines of credit without notice for the past few years leaving some home-owners with unfinished construction projects around the home.  The amount of time and paperwork needed for a loan can be exhausting and tedious.

A solution is to pair up with a local contractor who will agree to do the work and get paid after escrow is closes.  This is a win/win situation for the contractor and for the home-seller.

Homes which haven't been updated for years can benefit the most from this collaboration.  Contractors will only work with home-owners who have substantial equity and not with sellers who are upside-down on their home (short sellers).

 The first step is to speak with a San Fernando Valley real estate estate agent (that's me!).  I'll stop by the home and give you an idea on what improvements and upgrades you should do now to get the most return on your investment.  In most cases, you will make more money.  I know what buyers are looking for in a home.

If you own a home in the valley, visit this link for a real estate market analysis of your home.  Here is the link: .  Be sure to pass on this link to family and friends.  The information is accurate and updated daily.

Thanks for reading!
Richard Johnston, RE/MAX

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Simi Valley Homes for Sale

Are you interested to move to Simi Valley?  Simi Valley is located in Ventura County and just minutes away from Chatsworth, Northridge, West Hills, and Granada Hills.  These other areas located in the San Fernando Valley.

There are currently 263 available homes for sale in Simi Valley.  You can see the newest homes on the market by visiting this link:

Simi Valley is one of the largest cities in Ventura County.  The 118 freeway runs right threw Simi Valley.  You can get more about Simi Valley by visiting this link:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Home Loan 5% down avoid FHA for Condo & Townhouse

If you're searching for a condo or townhouse for sale in the San Fernando Valley, chances are the community is NOT FHA approved.  What this means is that if you are qualified to purchase a home with an FHA loan,  the number of available properties you can write an offer on has decreased substantially. From what I've seen, 70-80% of communities in the valley are not FHA approved.  That sucks!

Lucky for you :-) You can now buy a condo and townhouse for only 5% down - conventional loan.  Isn't that great!  No more wondering if the building with qualify.  No more asking your agent (that would be me) if the building is FHA approved.  They're all approved!

So what do you do now? You should find your way to my San Fernando Valley condo site and look at the available properties for sale.  Keep in mind the market is super hot as many first time home-buyers are trying to get their hands on the $8,000 tax credit.  $8,000 is a lot of money so don't think you can do without. 

I previewed some great Encino condos and Tarzana condos yesterday.  You can find really good deals especially on the bank owned properties and equity sellers (standard sale).  A few I looked at had a starting price of $195,000.  Compare that to around $300,000 a few years ago.  You'd be crazy not to buy!

The first step is to get qualified before doing anything.  Why?  You need to know what you can afford.  I have the best loan officer on the planet in the San Fernando Valley.  If you don't call my guy, I cannot guarantee you'll get the home.  If you need a recommended San Fernando Valley loan officer, call Tom Cortesi with Home Services Lending / Wells Fargo Bank.  Here is his info:

Tom Cortesi with Home Services Lending at 818-817-4261 office or 323-791-8145 mobile.

Here is Tom's website:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Northridge Homes for Sale

There are currently 259 available homes for sale in Northridge.  Of these, 11 are bank owned homes and 36 are short sale homes.  2010 is being considered the year of the short sale.  That's a big reason that you'll notice a lot fewer bank owned homes on the market.  I do believe that as the year progresses, we shall see an increase homes homes being foreclosures on in Northridge.  Lenders can only wait so long to foreclose and the .

The $8,000 tax credit is creating a mad rush of home-buyers looking to purchase in Northridge.  It seems any home priced under $550,000 has multiple bids and overbidding is the norm.  That statement might confuse most home-buyers who are unfamiliar with the current market demands.

To understand the market without speaking with a Northridge real estate agent can lead you to believe otherwise.  What surprises me the most is that buyers have a huge misconception as far as what's going on in the marketplace. Buyer's think that low-balling and 50 cents on the dollar is going to fly.  I beg to differ.

Northridge is located between Granada Hills and Chatsworth.  Homes located north of Rinaldi are considered to be located in Porter Ranch.  This high end location of Northridge features guard gated communities with million dollar homes and views of the entire San Fernando Valley.

You can view homes for sale in Northridge by visiting this link:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Studio City home

Studio City is by far the most popular area to live in the San Fernando Valley.  Studio City borders Toluca Lake, Burbank, North Hollywood, and Sherman Oaks. 

What I like most about Studio City is the close proximity to the entertainment studios where many of our favorite t.v. episodes are filmed.  Sorry Jay Leno fans, his show is filmed in Burbank.  Universal City is a few minutes away from Studio City.  If you're planning to visit Universal Studios and City Walk, be sure to stop by Studio City and walk down Ventura Blvd.  Lot's of restaurants and unique boutiques to see.  Anywhere between Colfax and Laurel Canyon is great.  Check it out!

The only place in the Valley with a nightlife is Studio City.  Be sure to stop by Firefly's at 11720 Ventura Blvd.  I've been to this bar/restaurant several times.  The atmosphere is active and people are generally friendly.  There is a bar when you walk in, and a lounge area to your left.  An open courtyard for fine dining, and another bar at the back with a outside sitting with a fireplace.  Nice :-)  Call me if your relocating here.  I can recommend some really great places to eat. 

Studio City is the place to live - if you can afford it.  Condos and townhouses in Studio City are the most expensive.  If I was thinking of buying a townhouse, I'd love to live on Hoffman Street and Guerin Street.  They've got the best condos and the location is excellent.  Prices are high but if money is no option, then this is the place to be.

If you're searching for Studio City homes for sale, be sure to give me a call so I can help you with your online home search.  I know the Studio City area very well.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sherman Oaks home

Sherman Oaks is a very desirable area of the San Fernando Valley.  Located just north of Beverly Hills, it is considered one of the most popular locations in the San Fernando Valley.

You are just minutes away from Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills, Brentwood, Bel Air, West and West Hollywood. Seconds away from Studio City, Burbank, Toluca Lake, Encino, Tarzana, Valley Glen, and Valley Village.  Wow!

Lots of fine restaurants and boutiques line up Ventura Blvd.  Homes located South of Ventura Blvd are considered to be in a 'prime' location.  Wealthy people love to live up in the Hills even if they don't have a view.  I guess it's harder for the homeless to push their carts up the mountain to collect cans.

One fast food place I like to occasionally eat is at Pita Grill.  Their lemon chicken plate is the best.  Been eating at Pita Grill for the past 13 years and they have another location in Woodland Hills, CA.  Their lemon sauce rocks!

If you're looking for some authentic Mexican food, head on over to Casa Vega.  I've been there many times.  They know what they're doing!  Another Mexican restaurant I can recommend is Don Cuco's in Toluca Lake.  Just 5 minute drive from Sherman Oaks. 

The great part about Sherman Oaks is the location.  Getting to Woodland Hills or Glendale is a 10 minute drive.  But getting from Woodland Hills to Glendale is a 25 minute drive.  You see what I mean? 

Getting back to real estate (because that's what I do) :-), you can see what's new on the market by visiting this link: Sherman Oaks homes for sale .  If you are thinking of relocating to the San Fernando Valley, call me first.  Things go smooth when you work with the best!  I've got a great loan officer who doesn't make you angry, and a great Sherman Oaks real estate agent (that's me) who can unlock the door to your next home.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Latest Pending Home Sales ** VIDEO **

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Burbank Notary - Mobile Notary Service in Burbank

Before you take possession of the home, you're going to have to make an appointment with the escrow company to sign legal documents.  Here is when a notary comes into play.  Usually, the escrow company will have an employee become a licensed notary in order to expedite loan documents for closing.

One issue I've faced over the years of being a Burbank real estate agent is having the escrow company schedule a convenient time for my buyers or sellers to sign the final documents needed to close. 

A way around this and to ensure a quick close of escrow is to have a local notary pick up the documents from escrow, drive to the clients house or work, sign the documents and return back to escrow.  This helps ensure that the loan documents being signed are overlooked by a notary who is also a loan signing specialist.

Over the years, I've counted on a excellent Burbank notary to get the job done for me.  If you are looking for a notary for the areas of Burbank, Toluca Lake, Studio City, Glendale, Pasadena, Hollywood, then I can recommend you visit this notary site:

More Links: