Looking for your dream home?

1154 Glen Rd. in Lafayette has it all. As realtors, we occasionally get preview invites to see a home before it goes on the market. Last Thursday, there was a private viewing of this spectacular home with wine, cheese and homemade chocolate chip cookies baking that created a cozy feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This coveted Happy Valley street is one of my favorites. The home was originally built by Nobel Prize winner Glenn Seaborg in 1951. The current owner completely remodeled it in 2009, adding on this high-beamed family room to the original L-shaped layout.

I love how this stone fireplace is the centerpiece of the living room. The current owner is a real estate agent and has a knack for remodeling homes, living there for a while, and then moving on to the next project. In this case, the same street just a few doors down will get the next updates to this mid-century neighborhood.

Two of my favorite features were the Jack-n-Jill bathroom where there is a laundry shoot cabinet to the laundry room on the other side, and the mud room next to the garage, as well as another outdoor entrance to store the backpacks and shoes upon returning home.

 

 

 

 

 

The master bedroom was added on with high, vaulted ceilings, doors to the pool area and an amazing bathroom. All this can be yours for $3,650,000. For more information and better photos, check out this home here.

The problem with large AMC’s for lenders and clients

Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending wrote a blog recently about Apprisal Management Companies (AMC’s) that I found really interesting. Jay wrote about the mess that usually comes out of a broker-lender relationship due to appraisal issues.

Family Home, Residence, Contemporary, Property, Modern

After the mortgage melt down the laws changed that required lenders to use AMCs instead of cherry picking their appraisers directly.  This past practice created an opportunity for dishonest practices.  However, creation of AMC’s created a separate list of issues and caused the cost of appraisals to increase.  The AMC’s usually paid the appraisers too little and decreased motivation by appraisers to do a good job or they hired inexperienced appraisers because the seasoned appraisers got out of the business as their salary decreased. Initially there was no parameters in place for the appraiser you got.  Many times, I got an appraiser from Sacramento appraising a property in the Walnut Creek School District and would get a low value because the comps they pulled were parts of Walnut Creek not in the school district.  As you can imagine, this led to some huge problems

As time passed, mortgage brokers such as JVM have moved to a “mortgage banking channel” to avoid using AMC’s and now utilize their own internal AMC that is still compliant but staffed by competent, local, highly-skilled appraisers of JVM’s choosing.  The lender still can’t talk to the appraiser, but at least they have control of the quality of appraisers and know the area they are appraising.

For more information about this topic, see this Washington Post article Jay quoted in his blog. You can visit JVM Lending here.

Pending: 304 Grapevine Pl. (Pleasant Hill)

A past client just put his home at 304 Grapevine Place in Pleasant Hill on the market. It went pending in 7 days and received four offers all over the asking price.

He only bought 15 months ago, but a career with the Coast Guard has him moving to Seattle and he will still walk away with some money in his pocket, although he is telling me Seattle is as pricey as the East Bay if not more so.

I love helping our military sellers and VA buyers. I specialize in knowing about the VA loan, have worked on a military base in Nuremberg, Germany and have a son who is currently in the Navy (on a nuclear sub, NuPoc graduate). If you know somebody who is eligible for the VA benefits and would like to know more about the home buying process, I would be honored to help them.

You can take a tour of their beautiful home here. If you’d like to know what it takes to get your home sold in 7 days or be next on my list of satisfied customers, please give me a call or visit my website at www.kristinlanham.com.

Emerald Elite Award

Our annual BHG convention recently occurred in Las Vegas. It is at this time of year they announce award winners based on production. I am happy to share that I was the recipient of the Emerald Elite Award, for which any agent nationwise, within the Better Homes and Gardens Company, meets the following criteria:

  • $325,000 GCI (Gross Commission Income, before taxes and expenses) OR 59+ total transactions

Thank you to all my great clients, referrals from friends and agents, team, lenders, inspectors, stagers and title reps! Additionally, I was awarded the 2017 Best of Walnut Creek Award in the Real Estate Agents category by the Walnut Creek Award Program. You can see a press release about that here, if you’re so inclined:

http://walnutcreek.walnutcreek.onlineawarded.org/PressReleaseub.aspx?cc=DJGB-TBHJ-QZRR

All of America’s hottest real estate markets are on West Coast

We found a Realtor.com article recently that ranked the hottest real estate markets for February 2017. Nobody will be surprised to see that three of the top five (Vallejo, San Francisco and San Jose) are in the Bay Area.

According to the article, a large part of Vallejo’s rise to number one on the hottest real estate markets list is due to their drop in median days on market. It wasn’t too long ago that Vallejo went bankrupt and Mare Island redevelopment was in the crapper – that still might be an area for investment.

I also found out that Seattle is the fastest-growing market, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Seattle seems to be on the fast track to San Francisco status, with a similar culture and a bunch of new tech companies migrating their headquarters North. I currently have a client selling in Pleasant Hill and moving to Seattle and he is finding it is more expensive to purchase there.

Either way, the West Coast is HOT! If you are looking to buy or sell in the East Bay, please feel free to reach out and ask for my help!

Is my real estate “on fleek?”

I recently had a beer with my son at Ol and on the menu, one was named “On Fleek.” I asked him what it meant and later mentioned this to my team. That discussion turned to funny, popular words and phrases, like “on fleek” so we decided to blog about it and my freelance writer Jeremy wrote this witty piece…

I asked my team what “on fleek” meant, and they said it basically is when something is good, or looks good. I believe the example they used was “her eyebrows are on FLEEK!” So, I asked them: Is my real estate on fleek?

We got a good laugh out of that. I can’t believe how many new words there are with younger generations! For example, I recently learned what the “dab” was, and by the time I learned what it was and how to properly “dab on ’em,” the fad was already over.

There’s “sus,” which is short for “suspect,” and “extra” which means you’re doing too much or going over the top. There’s every Bruno Mars lyric (“hashtag blessed”) and “bae” for “babe” to describe your significant other. You can be “basic,” or have “no chill” or just straight up say “TBH” for “to be honest.”

Upon doing a little research, guess what I found out? “On fleek” has already been replaced by “snatched.” So, for example, “her eyebrows are snatched!” That makes absolutely no sense, but I can roll with it!

Maybe my new business tagline should be “TBH, I’m hashtag blessed to be your agent because we are so snatched!” On second thought, maybe not.

Rent vs. Buy Calculators

When discussing renting versus buying, it’s helpful to have tools to calculate the differences. Luckily, our friends at JVM Lending have hooked us up. Here is our edited version of their information:

Imagine having a borrower who is paying $1,800 in rent who is very nervous about his or her potential payment increase after purchasing a home. These calculators can show how their “effective payment” will go down when tax savings and appreciation are accounted for.

Now, Trulia and Freddie Mac both offer great “rent vs. buy” calculators that will help with this. Even with modest appreciation (like 3%) and tax rate (28-34%) assumptions, these calculators can clearly show how much better off people are when they buy.

For example, according to our imaginary borrower, the Trulia calculator tells us her net housing costs will actually be 3% lower after she buys a $500,000 home with 20% down. These tools can help potential  buyers get off the fence by showing why it’s a better investment to buy a home and  accurately differentiate between buying and renting.  I like to look at as you are paying yourself, not a landlord.

 

Congrats to two happy clients!

I want to offer my sincerest congratulations to Amanda and Siubhan on their recent closings!

Amanda, a past client of mine, decided she wanted to pursue her dream of having land, horses, chickens and a big garden. When a piece of land became available in Vacaville, she decided to make an offer and it was accepted! We then rushed to get her Concord home ready over the Thanksgiving holiday and were in contract by December 9th. Whew!

Siubhan is another past client who had bought a condo in Antioch four years ago, but had not been living in it for the last year or so and could not rent it out due to rental restrictions. She felt now was the right time to sell. Twelve offers and $26,000 over asking price later, Siubhan is excited to take a trip back to Scotland to visit family.

I would love to know your story and help you accomplish your dreams, reach out to me or visit my website: www.kristinlanham.com.

Market tidbits, inspired by The Big Short

The other day, I wasn’t feeling well and ended up on the couch for most of the day watching The Big Short. It was much more insightful the second time around – I highly recommend watching if you haven’t already!

After seeing the movie and getting a spam voicemail market update from a lender (that was a first; the phone never even rang), I was prompted to blog about these tidbits:

  • Did you know that for every 8 applicants for home loans, 1 does not get approved? That proves the importance of getting pre-approved prior to house hunting.
  • Mortgage Rates saw a small decrease the week of Feb. 6th-11th and the stock market is showing signs of stalling. In speaking with my Degalis Advisor about my SEP, I asked if I should get out of Bonds. His advice was that we are due for a correction, so keep the Bonds for now.
  • The MCA index (which stands for “mortgage credit availability”) increased for the 5th month, which means we have looser mortgage standards. This has been needed because of strict regulations after the crash (we went from one extreme to another), but it still makes me nervous after re-watching The Big Short.
  • The 2017 year in real estate has been coined as “Modernization” and we should see a continued strong pace of growth and above average appreciation.
  • The West will lead the way in appreciation at 5.5 percent, compared to 4.5 percent nationwide.

So on that note, Have a Happy Valentines Day

Navigating the inspection process when buying or selling a home

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, there will almost always be inspections done. Oftentimes, buyers will do roof, home, and pest inspections. Sometimes fireplace, foundation and sewer lateral inspections will be conducted as well.

Cranston, RI, April 17, 2010 -- FEMA inspector Mike Irwin with home owner Jose Henriquez run through his home inspection again to illustrate to the media what a FEMA home inspection looks like and what people can expect when they have their homes inspected. Photo: Michael Rieger/FEMA

Buyers are trying to determine the integrity of the house they want to buy – nobody wants to buy a home only to find out later that they will have to put additional money into it. However, sellers rarely know about these things off the top of their heads.

That is why it’s important, and beneficial to both parties, for inspections to be done. At the very least, a seller should do a pest inspection before going on the market to understand the cost of any issues, rather than deal with negotiating after something is discovered.

Once inspections are done, they become a disclosure. So, if a buyer gets scared off for some reason, the inspections are a disclosure for the next buyers. More than likely, this will incentivize the seller to work with the existing buyer. Occasionally, there are bad inspections with unreasonable pricing and there is no coming to agreement between parties. The seller will usually get another inspection from a more reputable inspector.