Category Archives: California

California Real Estate: Who Pays For What?

RE Fees

Customary Fees

In most areas in California, at close of escrow the buyer pays:

  • escrow fees (50/50 split)
  • title insurance fees (for 2 policies protecting the interests of themselves and their lender)
  • loan origination fee and discount points
  • miscellaneous doc drawing and courier fees
  • inspection and appraisal fees
  • loan closing costs, like prepayments of property taxes, interest, insurance and homeowner’s insurance or HOA dues, when the buyer is obtaining a loan with an impound account or as otherwise required by the buyer’s lender.

And the seller pays:

  • escrow fees (50/50 split)
  • broker commissions
  • a re-conveyance fee to their lender
  • buyers home warranty

However, ALL of this is open to negotiation. These are standard practices, but vary more and more in this market climate.

Also, be aware that with bank-owned properties the standard allocations are somewhat different. For example, banks often will pay for the buyer’s title insurance policy, assuming the buyer uses a title provider the bank chooses. Or, the bank may defer to the buyer to elect the title company at which point the buyer is responsible for title and escrow fees.

Also, costs like HOA transfer and documentation fees, city and county transfer taxes, and even escrow fees are often negotiated between buyer and seller. Additionally, many times buyers agree to “pay” their customarily allocated fees, but then negotiate a closing cost credit from the seller that covers some or all of that.

Loan closing fees vary significantly by loan type (i.e., FHA vs. conventional). Also, transfer taxes also vary widely in different California counties; I see transactions where buyers need to be prepared to pay anywhere from 2 to 6% of the purchase price in closing costs – depending on the location. Again, this can be reduced if the buyer is able to negotiate for the seller to pay some or all of their closing costs.

Elk Grove Accepts the Cool California Challenge

Joins City-to-City Competition to Reduce Energy Consumption
Joins City-to-City Competition to Reduce Energy Consumption

Elk Grove, CA – Help our hometown earn new bragging rights and save energy by registering to participate in the CoolCalifornia Challenge.

Elk Grove could be California’s coolest city this year. It is one of 22 cities participating in the 2015-16 CoolCalifornia Challenge, a city-to-city competition encouraging residents and communities to work together to achieve California’s energy reduction and climate change goals. Other participating cities includeClaremont, San Mateo, Buellton, Indio, Burlingame, Long Beach, San Carlos, Lynwood, Martinez, South Pasadena, Redwood City, Huntington Beach, San Pablo, Benicia, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Sausalito, El Cerrito, Fairfax, Larkspur, and Richmond. The CoolCalifornia Challenge runs through March 30, 2016.

The Challenge, organized by Energy Upgrade California, engages households in participating cities throughout the state to reduce their energy and water use at home as well as reduce their transportation emissions.

Help Elk Grove earn the title of “Coolest California City” and a portion of the $150,000 in prize money to support local sustainability efforts.  You can join the Challenge by following these 3 simple steps:

  1. Register at www.CAChallenge.org; and
  2. Create a MyEnergyUpgrade plan; and
  3. Log your energy use each month during the Challenge (electricity, natural gas, vehicle gasoline) and share energy, transportation and water conservation efforts and activities to gain points for our city.

The city with the highest number of total points by March 30, 2016 will be crowned the winner. Participants can earn points, tracked through online software, if their home or vehicle energy use is below the baseline average in their city. Extra points are earned by participants that re-set their “personal best” for home energy and vehicle fuel consumption from a previous month. And bonus points are earned by signing up for the Challenge, filling out a MyEnergyUpgrade plan, uploading a photo, inviting friends to join the Challenge, sharing energy and water saving tips on social media pages, and committing to do an energy and water saving action and writing a review of that action.

Register today at www.CAChallenge.org. For more information on the City’s participation in the CoolCalifornia Challenge contact Mona Schmidt at (916) 478-3633 or mschmidt@elkgrovecity.org.

Why Does A Seller Need to Know How I’m Financing My Purchase: What’s the Best Financing Method?

Puzzled LookAs a buyer, have you wondered why is what type of financing you use important? Or why does the seller need to know how you are financing your purchase? Or both?

The type of financing you use is important because, as a seller, you have the right to know how someone plans to purchase your property as well as to see evidence of that person’s ability to purchase. In addition, certain types of financing may not be accepted.

As a seller, you can choose what financing terms you will accept or will not accept. Most sellers are, of course, open to as many financing types as possible. However, in rare instances, specific financing types are sometimes prerequisites to being able to make an offer to purchase. For example, pending HOA litigation in a condo development would trigger this prerequisite. The HOA company will only allow sellers to accept owner occupied buyers with all cash offers or conventional financing.

Additionally, financing has its strengths and weaknesses. A general rule is outlined below recognizing there are always exceptions, and the seller has the final say.

STRONGEST
Cash
Conventional Loan
FHA Loan
FHA with DPA (Down Payment Assistance)
VA Loan
WEAKEST

As you can see, cash is at the top of the list – it is still and will always be king. The VA loan is at the bottom of the list and it is bitter sweet.

Nicknamed the “No-No Loan” the VA loan is structured to be a great tool and benefit to allow our vets to become homeowners. No down payment, no closing costs. The VA buyer isn’t even allowed to pay certain costs associated with closing the loan. Sounds great in theory, however, those costs get passed on most times to the seller who gets to say yes or no to paying them. In a competitive market, this offer gets placed on the bottom of the pile because the seller is netting the least from these offers.

The other loans in between have varying resemblances to the VA loan because they require the seller to give up potential proceeds to make the loan happen for the buyer.

Ultimately, the more cash the buyer puts in, the more of the risk they are taking. The less cash the buyer puts in, the less risk. To a seller, the seller would rather see more risk to ensure your commitment and to increase the possibility of closing.

The above is offered as a guideline and is not set in stone as to what will always happen. There are many other ways your broker/agent can ensure you are making a strong offer no matter what your financing. In all that you do as a buyer, choosing a savvy broker/agent will ensure you are making the strongest offer for your money and budget.

California 2015 Housing Market Forecast Preview

2015 Housing Forecast for California
2015 Housing Forecast for California

With more available homes on the market for sale, California’s housing market will see fewer investors and a return to traditional home buyers as home sales rise modestly and prices flatten out in 2015, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) “2015 California Housing Market Forecast.”

The C.A.R. forecast sees an increase in existing home sales of 5.8 percent next year to reach 402,500 units, up from the projected 2014 sales figure of 380,500 homes sold. Sales in 2014 will be down 8.2 percent from the 414,300 existing, single-family homes sold in 2013.

“Stringent underwriting guidelines and double-digit home price increases over the past two years have significantly impacted housing affordability in California, forcing some buyers to delay their home purchase,” said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown. “However, next year, home price gains will slow, allowing would-be buyers who have been saving for a down payment to be in a better financial position to make a home purchase.”

“Moreover, prospective buyers should know that it’s a misperception that a 20 percent down payment is always required to buy a home. There are numerous programs available that allow consumers to buy a home with less down payment, including FHA loans, which lets buyers put down as little as 3.5 percent,” continued Brown.

C.A.R.’s forecast projects growth in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product of 3 percent in 2015, after a projected gain of 2.2 percent in 2014. With nonfarm job growth of 2.2 percent in California, the state’s unemployment rate should decrease to 5.8 percent in 2015 from 6.2 percent in 2014 and 7.4 percent in 2013.

The average for 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates will rise only slightly to 4.5 percent but will still remain at historically low levels.

The California median home price is forecast to increase 5.2 percent to $478,700 in 2015, following a projected 11.8 percent increase in 2014 to $455,000. This is the slowest rate of price appreciation in four years.

“With the U.S. economy expected to grow more robustly than it has in the past five years and housing inventory continuing to improve, California housing sales and prices will see a modest upward trend in 2015,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “While the Fed will likely end its quantitative easing program by the end of this year, it has had minimal impact on interest rates, which should only inch up slightly and remain low throughout 2015. This should help moderate the decline in housing affordability we saw occur over the past two years.”

“Additionally, the state will continue to see a bifurcated market, with the San Francisco Bay Area outperforming other regions, thanks to a more vigorous job market and tighter housing supply.”

6 Things Homebuyers Should Avoid Once They are Preapproved for a Mortgage

black couple loan approved

You have done the hard part in the home-buying process and chosen a lender and a real estate agent to work with. You have also gone out and found the home of your dreams! Best of all, your team has done a great job of negotiating the best deal for you.

Now, as a buyer, all you have to do is sit back and wait for your loan to close … right? Wrong!!

Getting a home loan these days is a very interactive process. I am always amazed by how many clients I work with who come to me unaware of all the pitfalls they face during the loan process. To help avoid any surprises while waiting for final approval, I provide my clients with a short list of “do’s and don’ts” to follow.

Let’s start with the “do’s” …

  1. Do keep the process moving by responding to your loan officers’ requests for documentation as soon as possible.
  2. Do make decisions as soon as is reasonably possible.
  3. Do convey questions or concerns you
  4. Do continue to make all of your rent or mortgage payments on time.
  5. Do stay current on all other existing accounts.
  6. Do continue to work your normal work schedule with no unplanned time off.
  7. Do continue to use your credit as normal.
  8. Do be prepared to explain any large deposits in your bank accounts.
  9. Do enjoy purchasing your home but remain objective throughout the process to help make decisions that are best for you.

After you have been preapproved for your mortgage you will want to refrain from the following…

  1. Do not make any major purchases (car, boat, jewelry, furniture, appliances, etc.).
  2. Do not apply for any new credit (even if it says you are preapproved or “xxx days same as cash”).
  3. Do not pay off charges or collections (unless directed by your loan officer to do so).
  4. Do not make any changes to your credit profile.
  5. Do not change bank accounts.
  6. Do not make unusual deposits into your bank accounts or move money around from one account to another.

Follow these simple rules and you will help to make your loan closing as smooth and hassle-free as possible! Good luck!

FHAs Back to Work Program Waives Waiting Times

(Courtesy NKS Financial)

image
Purchase again sooner than you think

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently announced its “Back to Work” program, which is giving individuals who suffered a long period of hardship during the recent housing crisis a second chance to prove they can carry a mortgage and own a home.

The program will waive many of the waiting periods associated with a significant “economic event” such as bankruptcy (Chapters 7 and 13), short sale or foreclosure.

Potential candidates may be first-time or repeat home buyers, and the program can be used for the 203K rehab loan. It must be approved by an FHA lender, and as some lenders are choosing not to participate, you may want to contact your mortgage professional for more information on this.

Eligibility

To participate in the program, individuals must be able to demonstrate they’ve recovered fully from the “event”, and document the fact that they did have a household income loss of at least 20 percent for a period of at least six months that coincided with the “event.” They also need to prove current, stable and documentable employment to qualify.

As well, they need to demonstrate a 12-month positive payment history, and this specifies on-time payment of all mortgage and installment debt. There is some latitude for credit card debt, but it is slight.

Counseling sessions

Applicants also must attend counseling sessions before being able to participate in the program. This is usually a one-hour session with a HUD-approved counselor, and was designed to help participants prevent the “economic event” from happening again.

Check Your Mail – Payments to 4.2 Million “Distressed” Borrowers Happening Now

Actual check received in the amount of $2000 by one of my past clients in her mail today; she had completed a short sale. Envelope reads "Important Payment Agreement Informaton Enclosed" from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Actual check received today by one of my past clients who completed a short sale. Envelope reads “Important Payment Agreement Informaton Enclosed” from the Office of the Compftroller of the Currency and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
If you have been foreclosed on or have completed a short sale, don’t be so quick to throw away mail from your past lender. Payments to 4.2 million borrowers will be distributed to those whose homes were in any stage of the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 and whose mortgages were serviced by one of the following companies, their affiliates, or subsidiaries: Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo.

In most cases, eligible borrowers will receive a letter with an enclosed check sent by the Paying Agent–Rust Consulting, Inc. Some borrowers may receive letters from Rust requesting additional information needed to process their payments. Rust is sending all payments and correspondence regarding the foreclosure agreement at the direction of the OCC and the Federal Reserve.

Borrowers can call Rust at 1-888-952-9105 to update their contact information or to verify that they are covered by the agreement. Information provided to Rust will only be used for purposes related to the agreement.

Watch out for scams. Beware of anyone who asks you to call a different phone number than the number above or to pay a fee to receive a payment under the agreement.

SO WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT
The Federal Reserve Board issued enforcement actions against four large mortgage servicers
–GMAC Mortgage, HSBC Finance Corporation, SunTrust Mortgage, and EMC Mortgage Corporation–in April 2011. Under those actions, the four servicers were required to retain independent consultants to review foreclosures that were initiated, pending, or completed during 2009 or 2010. The review was intended to determine if borrowers suffered financial harm directly resulting from errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies that may have occurred during the foreclosure process.

A number of servicers supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) were also required to conduct independent reviews.

The deadline to request an independent review was December 31, 2012.

Improve Your Chances in Multiple Offer Situations

multiple-offers, Sacramento Listing Agent, Elk Grove Listing Agent
multiple-offers, Sacramento Listing Agent, Elk Grove Listing Agent
(Guest article, Dian Hymer – Client Direct)

Some buyers in hot markets with a low inventory of homes for sale are losing out over and over in multiple-offer competitions. You can improve your chances of having an offer accepted by clearing up any issues that might cause a seller to look askance at your offer when compared to one from another buyer.

If your purchase offer is littered with contingencies that protect you, the sellers are more likely to see the contract as risky, especially if they are looking at other offers that contain fewer contingencies.

A clean contract is free of contingencies, which can give buyers a competitive advantage, especially if they are offering less than full price or are in competition with other buyers.

Timing is everything in the home sale business. Buyers often lose out on the opportunity to make an offer on a listing because they are traveling for business or vacation. One partner may see the home of their dreams, but the other won’t be back in town to take a look for days or weeks.

Making an offer contingent on the absentee buyer’s approval of a property is risky from the seller’s standpoint. If the seller accepts the offer, he takes his home off the market not knowing if the absentee buyer will like the house enough to buy it.

It would be very difficult to get such an offer accepted if there are multiple offers from buyers who have all seen the property. The Internet can give a great introduction to a listing, but it usually doesn’t include photos of items that might cause you to pass on the property, like a neighbor’s home that is in poor repair or a location close to a noisy freeway.

Some buyers buy property without having seen it. To get an offer accepted, these offers usually have a generous price, and close quickly. The buyers may later find problems that they could have discovered had they seen the property before making an offer. It’s better for both buyers and sellers if all potential buyers have seen the property before an offer is made.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Try to anticipate if there is any condition of your home purchase that would cause the sellers to shy away from accepting or countering your offer. If such conditions exist, try to address them before you make an offer.

For example, let’s say your parents are willing to give you a large amount of cash for a down payment to make your offer more competitive. Make sure this will be acceptable to your mortgage lender.

Find out what verification the lender will require from your parents. If the lender needs a gift letter that stipulates you don’t need to repay the money, have your parents write this letter and include a copy with your offer.

Sellers are always concerned about the buyer’s financial capability to close the transaction. Your offer should include a letter from your lender stating that you are preapproved for the financing that you need. The letter should stipulate that the lender has verified the cash you need for the down payment and closing costs.

If the verification of funds needed to close is not included in the preapproval letter, make a copy of a bank or brokerage statement that verifies the amount you need. Black out the account number and include a copy of this with your offer.

In some areas, buyers are making offers without any contingencies. That is as clean as it gets. However, there can be problems with contingency-free offers. Buyers can feel pressured into waiving an inspection contingency because they’re sure they can’t compete unless they do. The sellers could end up in a legal hassle with the buyers after closing if problems arise that weren’t disclosed to them.

THE CLOSING: Buyers should ask the sellers for permission to preinspect the property before they make an offer without an inspection contingency.

Dress Your Home For Success

Whether it’s an Open House, or simply presenting your home in the best light, it is necessary to view it from the eyes of a buyer!  Any money spent in this area may result in increased profits and a faster sale.

Maximizing Curb Appeal
Before potential buyers even see what the home has to offer, they view its exterior.  As a result, an unkempt or unattractive view of the outside of the home could potentially result in a missed opportunity.  To show the house in its best light, consider the following:

* Move all materials, including garbage cans and gardening supplies, from the front yard and into a garage or shed

* Mow the lawn and weed and maintain all planted areas

* Replace any outdoor light bulbs that are not working

* Sweep walkways and steps, and remove all small items from the porch or patio

* Replace worn or badly stained door mats

Once a potential buyer enters the home, they need to determine if it will meet their needs and expectations.  Give them the best view of the home’s interior by following these steps:

* Remove the home of any clutter by limiting decorative objects and clearing all unnecessary appliances from the kitchen countertops

* Rearrange or remove furniture to highlight the space in a room

* Review each room and clean or vacuum if necessary

These tips can help ensure you receive the highest price possible for your home.

Foreclosure: What It Really Means & How To Avoid It

Foreclosure: What It Really Means & How To Avoid It.