Tax returns and your loan approval!

Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending came up with another relatable blog recently: Tax Transcripts and 4506-T forms. It generally explains how those forms work, and reminded me of an experience of my own. First, a summary of Jay’s blog:

Every time a lender gets a loan from a borrower, they also have to get the last two years of tax returns. This is why borrowers sign IRS Form 4506-T as part of their disclosures. It formally authorizes lenders to request tax transcripts, which then show the filer’s status and income information.

Lenders are required to request transcripts from the IRS before a borrower can (borrowers can only request them directly if the IRS reject’s a lender’s request). If there is a minor error between the 4506-T and the tax return, this rejection may occur, so it happens pretty often.

That covers the basics of how the 4506-T form works and the role it plays in a real estate transaction. It’s a more subtle part of the process, but can cause huge headaches when done incorrectly. Take, for example, my experience with a property at Madeira in Pleasant Hill last year.

I represented the seller, and the buyer had their lender in Oakland, with a Bank out of L.A. Unbeknownst to us, the bank was being bought out and the new bank was called Bank of Hope – yes, really. But it turned out to be the Bank of Hopelessness.

Abode, Advertising, Banking, Building, Buy, Buyer

Processes changed, the lender in Oakland was let go and nobody knew what they were doing. Communication was terrible. One of the balls that got dropped was getting the tax returns. We closed almost two weeks late and the only way this ended up closing at all is by the processor who I had been speaking with regarding other issues. They actually went down to the IRS office and got the tax returns. She went beyond what is required (and probably got tired of our phone calls), but my seller is an attorney and also made multiple phone calls as they had already purchased a new home that was about to close.

This is one of the best reasons to get fully underwritten before you start to write offers. If all the documentation is in upfront, there won’t be any surprises or delays once you get into contract. Selecting the right lender can be the difference between smooth sailing and dark nightmares.

Moving? Save a tree!

Are you planning to move soon? Already initiating that process? Then you know you’ll need an endless supply of cardboard boxes to get the job done!

According to RecycleSmart.org, the average home move requires 60 cardboard boxes, or more than half of a one-ton pine tree. So, make sure when you’re done with your move that you recycle those boxes in the proper can. Don’t leave them in the regular garbage can, and only compost them if they were food boxes with grease that can’t be recycled.

Cardboard can be recycled over and over again, and you can even leave tape and labels on them to make the process easier. If you really want to save space in that recycling bin, break down each box so they’re flat.

Again according to RecycleSmart.org, the average person moves 11 times, which is about six trees’ worth of boxes. If you recycle those, you can still get the job done and save a few trees while you’re at it!

For more info on recycling cardboard and to order a bigger recycling bin at no charge, visit www.RecycleSmart.org.

Art Town: Secret Garden

This is one of the more “flowery” utility boxes in downtown Walnut Creek. Most of them have cool, unique designs but you really have to look at them to get the picture.  This piece by Casey Rasmussen White, entitled “Secret Garden,” is one you can just enjoy.

On the corner of N. Broadway and Mt. Diablo, this beautiful piece really catches your eye. It is simple and colorful.

If the name of the artist sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve featured another great piece by her on a separate utility box in downtown Walnut Creek. That one is called Sea Queen and is on a different corner of the same street.

I am always amazed at how much art there is to look at in downtown Walnut Creek if you just take a moment to observe.

Broadway Plaza summer concert series kicks off tonight!

If you’re looking for a good activity to get out of the house this evening, I have good news for you. The Broadway Plaza summer concert series is back in downtown Walnut Creek!

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Tonight, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., marks the first in a series of shows played at Event Plaza. If you like what you hear and see, you can go again on any Thursday in August.

First up tonight is SuperHuey, followed by The Purple Ones on August 10th, and Fleetwood Mask (that’s “Mask,” before you get too excited…) on August 17th. Festivities include the music, vendors, shopping, and more.

It’s a perfect family outing for people of all ages. Bring a blanket or chair and a few dollars for a glass of wine, and enjoy the summer air with your fellow East Bay music lovers!’s

Note:  with the new development, the events plaza is in front of Macy’s and I find the area not that welcoming to large crowds.  it gets really tight with limited seating, so many people are just standing around.  If you are there to shop, you will find yourself in tight quarters and a swarm of people.  Personally I miss the old parking lot space.

Congratulations to Mckenzie!

I recently closed a home for my client, Mckenzie. She currently lives in the city and will be moving to Clayton. Thus, we met at the Legion of Honor to see the Monet exhibit, celebrate her closing and give her the house key, as seen below.

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IMG_1020The tenant doesn’t leave for another six weeks so this was a great way to celebrate and she was very happy to have closed! The process became a bit stressful as the family wanted to use their local bank in the valley, and the parents were co-signing. However, this bank was primarily an AG bank and did not close on very many condos.

Buyers rarely understand at the onset what a difference a great lender can make and the lasting experience everyone involved will have. If it is a great experience, the impression is minimal, but when it is not so great, it can become one of your worst nightmares. This ultimately ended well because of the family’s relationship with the local bank, yet, we still needed an eight-day loan contingency extension (but only closed four days late).

If you want to be the next client who buys or sells a property with me, I will help you navigate the process to a successful close! Just reach out at www.kristinlanham.com or call me direct at (925) 899-7123.

Pizza My Heart has my heart

Yo. If you’ve ever hung out at the beach in Capitola, you’ve probably jumped in the long line for a slice of $4 pizza from Pizza My Heart.

If you’re a true customer and not just a lowly shoobie, you’ve probably even paid $7 for the pizza/t-shirt combo! Well, now those killer beach vibes have landed in Walnut Creek. On the corner of Broadway Plaza on S. California Blvd., the moment has finally come.

Even if you’ve never been to the famous location in Capitola, I’d highly recommend riding the swell into this downtown Walnut Creek shop and chompin’ down on a delicious slice and salad. Don’t miss the Maverick’s Pizza, named for the local big-wave surf competition.

Personally, I was super amped to hit it up. And when I ate it (literally, not in the “crashing” sense), I almost caught myself yelling “cowabunga!” There’s no way you can leave this place without throwing down a sick hang loose sign.

It gets 5 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s from me, dude!

Road Trips: Surprise Valley

If you’ve been to Burning Man, you know a little something about today’s Road Trips post. I recently visited Surprise Vally with a friend, which literally sits on the California/Nevada border by Cedarville – an hour and a half drive from the Black Rock Desert.

Our mission was to pick up a piece of artwork from an artist who lives out there (and to stay at a friend of a friend’s who owns Bare Ranch, where we had a BBQ with a group of friends who were also in the area).

The area is simply stunning. A mix of high desert, mountains and ranch land. If you get the chance to road trip up there, whether for the Festival or not, I’d highly recommend it. The drive is east of Reno on I-80; you turn off at Nixon, which is an Indian Reservation, after passing the turn-off for the new Tesla Battery Factory.

You first have to go through Gerlach, and those who know Burning Man will recognize this as the turn-off, as well as a place to get gas and something to eat. Bruno is a bit of legend who passed this year at the ripe age of 94. He had the oldest ongoing gambling license in the state. There was no gambling at the time I was there because it was in the process of being transferred, but Bruno’s is also known for their ravioli, which we did order!
After Gerlach, there is Pottery X, where a group of people live, make pottery, paint and sell those items to the public. It’s worth a stop – I picked up a birthday gift for a friend. Finally, there are natural hot springs, so if you are looking for a real getaway, you can book a hotel and indulge in the hot springs after a long day’s hike.

Tips for surviving the next drought

Last winter, the rains were plentiful. This spring and summer, the rivers have been gushing, lakes have been full and waterfalls have been crashing.

It’s a scene we haven’t had in the Bay Area in quite some time. But since the drought ended, all the regular water usage has returned – flushing normally, watering our gardens more than once a month, leaving the water going occasionally and not worrying about it…

That said, we’re still in California and we’re still in an accelerated state of global warming (according to most climatologists, anyway). So, there will be another drought. Here are some Bay Area-specific tips from the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) for surviving the next one:

Know your water provider’s Drought Program and its requirements

Every water provider should have a Drought Program. Contact them to make sure you know what their requirements are, ahead of the next drought. If you have CCWD, you can sign up for their newsletter to get updates.

Know how much water you are using

You can read your water meter to better understand how much water you’re using. However, that can be tricky. Here are some tips on CCWD’s website: www.ccwater.com.

Check for leaks

You can also utilize your meter to check for leaks. One of the most common leaks and wastes of water comes from the toilet. Check regularly!

Use efficient fixtures and appliances

You should always get EnergyStar appliances if possible, and you should have a toilet with 1.28gpf or less. Check if yours does at www.map-testing.com. Also, make sure your laundry loads are always full and don’t leave faucets running!

Convert lawns to gardens

Some water providers offer rebates for converting a lawn to a garden. For example, CCWD offers $1 per square foot of lawn converted ($1,000 maximum residential, $20,000 maximum Commercial/HOA). And California will give you a state rebate for front and back lawn conversions as well. Plus, it just looks prettier!

If you irrigate, do it efficiently

If you irrigate or have sprinklers, make sure the system is in good shape (no blocked or broken heads) so there’s no water waste. Try to water after the sun goes down or before it goes up to avoid evaporation. And turn the system off when rain is coming.

There are a million different simple ways to avoid water loss when the next drought occurs. Water is a still a precious commodity!