Monday, December 05, 2011

Are the Holidays a Good Time to Sell?

Sixty percent of real estate professionals advise their sellers to list a home during the holidays because it’s a good time to sell, according to a new survey conducted by

Why are the holidays such a good time to sell? Seventy-nine percent of the agents surveyed said that more serious buyers come out during the holidays, and 61 percent say less competition from other properties make it a great time to sell. Plus, 17 percent of agents say the cold weather is actually a benefit, making homes feel more cozy.

But online listing photos become even more crucial during the holiday season, according to the survey. Slightly more than half of agents say that the photos are more important because sellers tend to offer less open houses around the holidays, and so the online photos help buyers decide the properties to see and which ones to possibly bypass.

The biggest hurdles sellers face during the holidays, however, are keeping a home ready to show (clean and staged) as well as winter weather conditions and buyers’ vacation schedules, the survey found.

Source: (Dec. 2, 2011)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stronger Lure for Prospective Home Buyers

Home prices and mortgage rates have fallen so far that the monthly cost of owning a home is more affordable than at any point in the past 15 years and is less expensive than renting in a growing number of cities...
see more...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

4.5 million foreclosed borrowers may be eligible for reviews

Nearly 4.5 million current and former U.S. homeowners will soon get a chance to have their foreclosure cases reviewed for mistakes and potential restitution.

Next month, the U.S. government expects the first wave of homeowners to receive its letters in the mail, informing them of their right to ask for a foreclosure review, says Office of the Comptroller spokesman Bryan Hubbard.
Last month, independent consultants hired by lenders also began combing industry data to look for mistakes in foreclosure cases handled by 14 of the nation's largest mortgage servicers: Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Ally Financial, Aurora Bank, EverBank Financial, HSBC, MetLife, OneWest, PNC, Sovereign Bank, SunTrust Banks and U.S. Bancorp.

Reviews will take months to complete. The first consumers could see cases resolved this spring, according to deadlines imposed on the servicers.

Remedies will vary based on the degree of injury, said John Walsh, acting Comptroller of the Currency, in a speech last month.

The reviews cover homeowners in any stage of the foreclosure process on a primary home in 2009 or 2010. Anyone who meets that requirement — and was a customer of one of the 14 servicers — will get a review if they ask. The servicers include Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

The reviews were ordered as part of federal enforcement actions announced in April after a federal investigation last year found "significant weaknesses" in mortgage servicer practices.

The actions include requirements that servicers change some foreclosure practices, such as giving distressed borrowers a single point of contact. But the foreclosure reviews are the "most ambitious and complex" aspect of the action, Walsh said.

The OCC, along with the Federal Reserve, will oversee the reviews.

Whether homeowners were wronged will be decided by independent consultants hired by the servicers but approved by regulators.

The consultants will also decide remedies, which will be spot-checked by regulators. Regulators have also instructed the consultants what errors to seek.

No estimate of cost to servicers has been provided.

One company will process claims and provide one website and telephone number for consumers wanting reviews, the OCC says. The information will be in the consumer letters.

The OCC hasn't released the names of the independent consultants. That is under consideration, Hubbard says.

Consumer advocates say more information, including the names of the consultants doing the reviews and exactly how the reviews will be done, needs to be public to assure fairness and thoroughness.

"The process does seem ambitious," says Alys Cohen, attorney of the National Consumer Law Center. "But we have a lot of questions."

Restitution could be required for a broad range of issues, including if homeowners:

•Paid impermissible fees or penalties.

•Paid too much or had payments misapplied.

•Were wrongly denied loan modifications.

•Were wrongly foreclosed upon.
--USA Today

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Luxurious Bathrooms Don’t Always Need a Fancy Tub

Home owners may be starting to rethink what all makes up a luxurious, spa-like bathroom. Whirlpool tubs for several years have been on the wish-lists of many home buyers, but now some buyers are starting to show a change in preferences, swapping larger showers or extra storage space for that oversized bathtub or whirlpool, some designers say....

Goodbye Whirlpool Tub; Hello Luxury Shower.
REALTOR® Magazine

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Open House today in Redondo Beach

Come and see this beautiful new residential investment property (Duplex) open today and tomorrow from 1 - 4pm.
Front unit is almost 3100sf with 5 BR and 3.75 BA. Rear unit is almost 1800sf with 4 BR and 3 BA. Will not last!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Duplex For Sale in South Redondo Beach, California

Brand New Duplex located walking distance to the Riviera Village, Beach and Schools. The front unit is approx. 3078 SqFt with 5 Bedrooms, 4 Baths and the Rear unit is approx. 1782 SqFt. with 4 Bedrooms, 3 Baths. Spanish tile roof, Forced Air Heating, Air Conditioned, Tankless water heaters, Central Vacuum, Floors are tile and wood.

Housing Slump? Not in These Markets!

Home prices may be sluggish in some areas of the country but not every city is seeing a sag in prices. California cities overwhelmingly dominated the list of priciest median home prices, based off CNNMoney’s “Best Places” list. Here are the top 10 cities that made the list, factoring in the highest median home prices from 2010.
1. Hillsborough, Calif.: $2,277,500
2. Los Altos Hills, Calif.: $2,273,250
3. Montecito, Calif.: $1,864,000
4. Beverly Hills, Calif.: $1,595,000
5. San Marino, Calif.: $1,560,000
6. Tiburon, Calif.: $1,425,000
7. Los Altos, Calif.: $1,422,500
8. Manhattan Beach, Calif.: $1,360,000
9. Saratoga, Calif.: $1,349,000
10. Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.: $1,339,927

Source: “Best Places to Live 2011: Top 25 Pricey Homes,” CNNMoney (August 2011)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gen Y to Lead 'Massive Increase in Housing Demand

Watch out for Generation Y: This large, diverse, well-educated generation will drive the housing market recovery over the next 10 years, according to the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate.

Source: “USC Lusk Center Says More Educated, Diverse Generation to Drive Real Estate Recovery,” The Hoyt Organization (July 19, 2011)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Housing Shortage Is Likely Coming, Report Says

Within the next decade, 16 million new housing units will be needed to meet population growth and shifting demands, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies in its latest annual "State of the Nation's Housing" report.

That means household growth, which has dropped drastically in recent years, will need to greatly reverse its trend to meet the forecasted spike in demand. From 2007-2010, household growth averaged about 500,000 per year--less than half the 1.2 million annual pace averaged prior from 2000-2007.

To absorb the current rate of foreclosed and distressed homes plaguing most markets, a more normal rate of household formation is critical, according to the report. However, household growth partially has stalled as young adults have delayed home ownership and immigration has slowed.

As such, in recent years, builders have drastically cut production of new homes.

"With inventories of new homes at historic lows, a turnaround in demand could quickly result in tighter markets," the report notes. "Over the longer term, the number of younger households is set to rise sharply, supporting growth in the population that fuels growth in both new renters and first-time buyers. The path of the economy and evolution of the mortgage market will determine when and if this increased demand materializes."

The report predicts a need for greater housing units for several reasons. For example, the report projects demand for 1 million new homes a year is needed to meet population growth in the coming decade. The report also predicts a surge in smaller homes, estimating that 3.8 million baby boomers will be looking to downsize their homes within the next decade. Also in adding to the increase in housing units needed, Immigration growth, the need to replace existing homes, and demand for second homes will contribute to rising demand, the report notes. Therefore, researchers conclude at least 16 million new housing units will be needed over the next decade.

Source: “Harvard: Real Estate Recovery Hinges on Return of Demand,” Inman News (June 6, 2011)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bailing on Mortgage Not a Good Idea

An estimated 11 million home owners owe more on their mortgage than their property is currently worth. That’s made more home owners consider walking away from their mortgage and home ownership, even those who can still comfortably afford to make their payments (known as “strategic default”).

Walking away from a mortgage usually results in either a short sale or foreclosure. So what are the consequences of walking away? There may be far more consequences than what most home owners ever considered.

The consequences include everything from badly affected credit to potential tax consequences and deficiency risks. There are even possible professional implications, Justin McHood with Academy Mortgage in Chandler, Ariz., warns in an article at

Home owners' credit scores will be badly hit regardless of whether they attempt a short sale or have their property foreclosed on. (See How Missed Mortgage Payments Hurt Credit Scores)

There also could be the potential for deficiency risks when walking away from a home, which largely varies from state to state. (View anti-deficiency laws by state.) In some states, lenders may sue you for the difference between what you owe and what your short-sale or foreclosure proceeds are, McHood notes.

Home owners considering walking away also should weigh the potential difficulty they may face from moving too. For example, if moving into a rental property, they’ll have to convince a landlord to rent to them after they have the red flag of missed mortgage payments on their credit record. And paying for moving expenses — which many walkaways fail to consider — can quickly add up too.

Plus, home owners may find professional consequences from walking away from a mortgage, as the number of employers eyeing employees’ credit profiles continues to grow.

Source: “The Consequence of Walking Away,” (April 27, 2011)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Buyers Ready to Snatch Bargains This Spring

Bargain prices on housing combined with low interest rates below 5 percent may bring the real estate market its busiest spring season in years, economists say.

Distressed sales continue to put downward pressure on home prices, which may lure more buyers off the fence and ready to snag a deal during the typical prime-time buying season.

Some builders are ramping up discounts on new homes as well as boosting commissions to brokers to try to spark more transactions.

Sellers of existing-homes also are getting more competitive in pricing their homes.

"After three years of the housing downturn, people are becoming much more realistic in terms of valuing their homes," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®.

An improved job market with better income potential may also motivate more people to buy, says David Berson of the PMI Group.

“Household formations are also very important," Berson says. "Kids may have moved back in with their parents, or two people may have moved in together, because of job concerns. Now they can move into their own place."

While interest rates are sitting comfortably below 5 percent for now (30-year fixed rates averaged 4.76 percent last week), economists warn the attractive low rates won’t last long.

"Few think mortgage rates are going lower," says Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics chief economist. "It's more likely they will be 6 percent than 4 percent next spring. This lights a fire under buyers."

Source: “Discounts Expected in Spring Housing Market,” The Wall Street Journal (March 22, 2011)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Sellers Need to Get Practical About Price

Sellers whose homes have lingered on the market for months--or years, in some cases--are banking on this spring to turn the tide.

Foreclosures and short sales are still flooding the market, which means many sellers are still up against big inventories and some big bargains that may pull away buyers.

As such, more real estate pros say it’s time to have tough conversations with sellers about slashing their sales price of their home, particularly if it hasn’t garnered any traffic in recent months or years. After all, spring usually brings out more buyers, as home shoppers look to buy and move before the next school year.

"We have had a problem with sellers who are nostalgic for the way it was," says Ron Phipps, a Warwick, R.I., real estate professional and the president of the National Association of REALTORS®. He says what home owners could fetch for their home during the housing boom is not practical today. "You have to be where the market is, not where it was," Phipps says.

Phipps suggests encouraging sellers to check out the competition by visiting open houses or viewing online virtual tours of similar homes for sale to see how the seller’s house compares in price and appearance.

"You have to be very realistic about what is keeping your home from selling," Phipps says. "Sometimes it may actually be the person in the mirror, if your expectations are not realistic. Ultimately, there is a price at which all things sell."

Source: “Longtime Listings Try Again in Spring,” Associated Press (March 1, 2011)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Top 10 New Kitchen Trends in 2010

More and more homeowners are remodeling and making the most of their space with these top 10 hot trends in the kitchen.

1. Kitchens are now featuring a “family room” feel with more seating and dining areas.

2. The most popular color choice for cabinets was white. It works well with almost any architectural style – traditional to contemporary.

3. Stainless steel appliances are still a big hit, especially the fingerprint-resistant steel finish.

4. More and more kitchens are featuring custom additions such as pizza-making stations, coffee bars and wine-tasting nooks.

5. Walk-in pantries are popular for families and allow for ample storage of surplus items and bulk purchase like paper towels and canned goods.

6. Tech-savvy kitchens are featuring more electronics, like wall-mounted televisions and built-in sound systems.

7.Eco-friendly kitchens boost water-conserving faucets, energy start appliances and eco-friend cabinetry.

8. Built-in appliances that look more like cabinets are popping up across the country.

9. Lighting can convert from well-lit workspace to dimly lit formal dinner with the flip of a switch. Recessed lighting combined with chandeliers will do the trick.

10. A save-and-splurge mentality helps keep remodelers on budget. Choose to splurge on appliances instead of countertops or a built-in wine rack instead of a porcelain sink.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fed to Keep Buying Bonds

Citing the slow pace of economic recovery and persistently high unemployment, the Federal Reserve on Jan. 26 unanimously decided to move forward with plans to purchase up to $600 billion in long-term Treasury bonds.

The central bank also reaffirmed its intent to keep short-term interests rates near zero for "an extended period." According to futures markets, investors believe the Fed will begin raising rates in the early part of next year.

Source: “Unanimous Fed Keeps Buying Bonds,” The Wall Street Journal, Sudeep Reddy (01/27/11)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

'Secret' Way to Lower Mortgage Payments

Home owners can trim their monthly payments by recasting or re-amortizing their loan without having to refinance... click link to learn more...

Monday, January 03, 2011

Welcoming in 2011 with advice...

This will be an interesting year in Real Estate. If you plan on selling, I recommend you get your home on the market as soon as possible. I believe the banks will step up the forclosure process and many more listings will show up in February. The LA Times confirmed my feelings over the weekend. See it here

Also, interest rates are inching up. The higher they go the smaller the pool of buyer available and qualified. Call me to discuss in detail. Jack McSweeney / RE/MAX Execs 310 346-0391