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.

Tips for preparing to buy a home

It takes a lot of preparation to buy a home. I know, I know, thank you Captain Obvious, right? But if you’re going to be searching for a home in 2017, I want you to be ready for what is headed your way!

credit score

From our friends at Bank of the West, here is a list of great tips for preparing yourself to buy a home. See my summary below:

1. Fix Your Credit

Your credit is one of the first things a lender will look at when approving you for a mortgage loan. You can get a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion at annualcreditreport.com. Make sure to check for mistakes and file a dispute with the business in question, as well as the credit agency, if you find any inaccuracies. They must investigate within 30-45 days.

2. Maintain Your Credit Score

Your FICO score is the most common number used by mortgage lenders to rate your creditworthiness. You can get your credit report with a FICO score for free, or for a small fee. Anything above a 740 FICO score will help you secure better interest rates. If your score is lower, you may still qualify for a mortgage, just with a higher interest rate attached. Your first instinct may be to find ways to boost that credit score. Here are two things NOT to do:

– Don’t close lines of credit – it may indicate credit risk and actually hurt your score

– Don’t open new lines of credit – the uncertainty of your spending habits with a new card might indicate risk and cause your score to tick up

mortgage2

3. Get a Big Down Payment

You’ll get a better interest rate on a mortgage if you have a larger down payment because lenders will think you’re less likely to default on your loan. Aim for a down payment of at least 20 percent of the selling price. This will also protect you from paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects lenders if you default on a loan.

4. Get Pre-Approved

Meet with a mortgage specialist before you start shopping. They can help you determine an accurate budget and decide what kind of home you can realistically afford. Get a pre-approval letter and add it to a good credit report, income verification and a maximum allowable loan, and home sellers will take you most seriously among the suitors.

5. Keep Track of Your Money

You’ll have lots of documents, bank statements, etc. during the pre-approval and underwriting processes. These will be examined closely to verify income and expenses. If your records show unusual activity, you’ll be asked to explain it and you’ll have to jump that hurdle before continuing the approval process.

If you need a recommendation for outstanding mortgage brokers.  I have a few that I highly regard.

 

Supplemental property taxes can confuse a buyer

Have you recently purchased a home and been thrown off by getting bills about “supplemental property taxes?” Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending breaks it down for you:

Supplemental property taxes often create significant confusion for new homebuyers. When someone purchases a property in California, the County Assessor is required to immediately re-asses the property for property tax purposes. This re-assessment usually correlates to the purchase price and can take up to six months to complete.

JVM Supplemental property taxes

When a home is purchased, property taxes are usually based on the property tax bill of the current owner or seller. But usually, their property tax bill correlates to the price the seller paid for the property – often much less than the buyer is paying. Then, buyers mistakenly believe the property tax payment estimate when they purchase is an accurate reflection of their actual property tax. Usually, that’s false.

Anywhere from three months and beyond, buyers should expect a “supplemental tax bill” from the County Assessor. Even if a buyer has an escrow or impound account, they have to pay for the supplemental taxes, which can be sizable. As soon as a supplemental bill is received, a buyer should contact their loan servicer.

Also, when new buyers refinance into a new loan less than a year after a purchase, supplemental tax bills can cause confusion. Even if a borrower is refinancing into a lower rate, the housing payment can appear to increase. This is because lenders are basing the new housing payment on the new property tax liability, while borrowers are still basing their housing payment on the seller’s property tax liability, which is too low.