Archive for February, 2012

If we had a magic wand, every seller wants top dollar for their home in the time period they desire and the least amount of inconvenience. The other part of that formula would include minimum monies toward improvements. That’s all a fantasy in today’s economy. Buyers have spoken and demand properties that require little or no modifications. If renovations are needed, the price should be indicative of the condition. What upgrades offer the owner the best bang for the buck.

Kitchen Remodel: The difference maker in the kitchen starts with the counters and granite is now in vogue and preferred by most families and builders. Corian is slightly more expensive and durable, but for resale purposes, granite is the choice. Old tired cabinets can be brought back to life without replacing them. For less than $100, you can pickup a refinishing kit and have sparkling new cabinets in a short period of time. The money saved on the cabinets can be spent on new appliances. A kitchen remodel is the best cost to value improvement a family can invest.

Carpet And Paint: A coat of paint does wonders for a home. A professional will charge about $5000 for interior and exterior paint on a standard sized property. If you have the time and patience, you can achieve the same results for the cost of the paint. A clean carpet will compliment the new paint. If the carpet can be salvaged, make sure the carpet cleaner uses an extractor that completely removes dirt and grime. Should you choose to replace the carpet, purchase good quality with a neutral color.

Update The Bathroom: Money is tight, so stay with the basics in the bathroom. Switch the toilet, sink and install new flooring. Replacing old caulk and grout is very affordable and highly recommended, especially when compared to other bathroom upgrades. Having new grout between tiles and caulk around fixtures is a pleasant eye catcher. A bathroom touch up is second only to the kitchen in terms of monetary value.

Yard Maintenance: A spruced front yard is part of the curb appeal. Trim hedges and mow the lawn for starters. Keep the yard green and clean. The same detailed approach should be used in the backyard. Planting easy to maintain flowers will add contrasting color to the luscious green lawn. Some families will not have the resources or the time to finish all of these alterations before selling their home. For those that do, the benefit far outweighs the endeavor. Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my informative blogs, join me professionally on LinkedIn or Twitter and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California or the surrounding communities.


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The housing market is a reflection of the strength of our economy. it’s not a coincidence that a robust housing sector energizes the overall economy. Home prices have effected communities differently and to varying degrees. A few neighborhoods in the country have not been disturbed, while other markets have been damaged beyond repair. Those areas impacted most with deflated home prices are showing signs of stabilizing home values, mainly due to the sparse number of properties on the market and the historical rock-bottom interest rates. One size does not fit all when comparing housing stability, therefore from town to neighboring town can have a huge discrepancy.

The affordability rate has a positive impact on housing with more first-time buyers realizing their monthly mortgage payment are equal or less than the rent that currently dish out. Investors have a pronounced influence on the recent resurgence along with sellers looking at buying a second home or downsizing from their present living situation. The negative effects of bank-owned properties on communities have actually turned into a positive stimulant, bringing more prospective home buyers to the market. With 2012 being a presidential election year and the economy still uncertain, interest rates will remain respectable through the end of the year. Lenders have created many excellent loans and a large number of homes can be purchased for as little as 3.5% down payment for owner occupied homes.

Homes in Davis, California and Yolo County can be used as a point of reference. Since the housing peak in 2006, housing values in Davis adjusted by 20%, where as the rest of Yolo County dropped by 50% or more. Many families desire Davis because of the highly acclaimed schools, the safety factor and other desirable amenities. Unfortunately for the average income earner, Davis would not be considered affordable. Our neighbors to the north in Woodland had prices plummet by 55% over the last five years. In some cases you can buy two homes in Woodland for the price of one in Davis. Investors have taken notice with a number of all cash property purchases in Woodland, while first-time home buyers are taking advantage of the equal mortgage to rent comparison. Stable home prices combined with the low-interest rates and shallow inventory has reinvigorated the housing market. Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my other informative blogs, join me professionally on my LinkedIn or Twitter accounts and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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A number of students and two alumni have filed a federal lawsuit against UC Davis. There were a couple of facts that were assured after the pepper spray incident on November 18th, one being it would make national headlines and the other certainty were lawsuits would occur. The university and the campus Police Department are being accused of failure to properly train its officers, which resulted in the use of excessive force. These were nonviolent Occupy UC Davis protest that got out of control when police used military-grade pepper-spray against the defenseless protesters. The defendants are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Approximately three dozen officers wearing helmets and batons cleared a day old sit-in that originated on the UCD Quad. it’s obvious dressed in that attire, the officers were preparing for a battle. About a dozen protesters sat in front of the officers and locked arms, which culminated in the cowardly pepper-spray incident. The episode drew worldwide scorn after YouTube videos went viral. Two police officers are now on administrative leave during the ongoing criminal investigation. The students were protesting the ever-increasing tuition cost and the wealth and power in the hands of a relative few.

Many lessons have been learned since November 18th, nonviolent demonstrations coupled with overzealous police officers are not a good combination. A few allegations are now coming to light since the filing of the lawsuit. Three officers pulled down and zip-tied the wrist of Charles Parker, a military veteran, aggravating an old combat injury. Parker asked for medical assistance, but was denied. One of the police officers has a number of complaints of violating people’s rights. The plaintiffs said they would be apprehensive about protesting in the future, due to this pepper-spray incident. Student Fatima Sbeih stated “The university needs to respect students rights to make our voices heard, especially when we’re protesting university policies that impact our studies”. Another student David Buscho, protesting for the first time, ending with him being sprayed and struggling to breathe. Buscho stated “Many of my friends can barely make ends meet and then another tuition hike was proposed”. The students felt the protest was justified and the pepper-spray incident violated their rights to free speech. Anyone feel the police were acting responsibly in their actions or that the students in some way, brought this on themselves? Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my informative blogs or to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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The most light-hearted definition for buying a short sale might be “Even a snail will eventually reach it’s destination”. With more distressed homeowners realizing there are much better options than foreclosure, short sales are now more prevalent than in years past. Buyers, sellers and their agents have been discouraged with the length of time it takes to close escrow, but the reward outweighs the risk, assuming the buyer has the time. The majority of homes being sold today in many neighborhoods are either bank-owned or short sales. I have personally had short sales close in sixty days and others that took nearly a year. With the unpredictable nature of short sales, buyers have absolutely no control over the duration and should consider other properties if timing is important.

Experienced Realtor: Your choice of realtor could be the difference between success and failure when dealing with capricious short sales. Agents with a number of years in the business is important, but more importantly, how many successful short sales they have been involved with in their career.

Deflated Price: The sellers choice of price is counterintuitive to their banks price desires. The seller can set the initial price, but their mortgage company will determine fair market value. Even though your offer has been agreed to by the owner, the final price and terms are subject to lender approval. Many short sales are priced outrageously low, so low that it’s unlikely the sellers bank will accept them. The price you see might not be the price you pay.

Choosing Your Home: This is where your realtors experience comes in handy. There’s a sequence of questions that should be answered before you pursue a short sale. The number of outstanding loans on the property, what lenders are involved and the total mortgage amount are critical. Your agent should have knowledge of  that neighborhoods home values. If the short sale is priced $100,000 less than market value, it’s doubtful the sellers bank will even consider a full-price offer. The banks are taking a considerable financial loss, therefore all short sales are normally sold as is.

Time Of The Essence: After having your offer accepted by the seller, that’s just the first hurdle. The sellers bank will then slowly process the sellers qualifications for a short sale and your proposal. The buyer should not start paying out money for inspections and the appraisal during this period. Even though buyers have been forewarned about the long waiting period, the cold hard facts start to set in at this point. Many buyers back-out during this phase and move on to other homes. This is where your patience will be a huge asset. There could be months between seller acceptance and bank acceptance. By the way, if you are fortunate enough to get to this point, the sellers bank requires a quick close on your part. Please visit my website at www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my informative blogs and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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The biggest disappointment of the housing collapse has been those homeowners that lost their home through foreclosure. These families went in with good intentions and had their dreams shattered due to faulty loans, lost jobs or crumbling home prices. Those homeowners that had their home repossessed by the bank, had their credit destroyed and a loss of dignity. Given a choice, these families might never want to or be able to buy a property again. There are options for any homeowner facing the prospects of a possible foreclosure. Loan modification is one avenue, sell your home for market value and pay the difference, but the best alternative is a short sale. A short sale is defined as an outstanding loan obligation against a property that’s greater than what the property can be sold for.

Every short sale is handled differently depending on the individual bank or banks involved. A large number of owners take out a first loan and a second loan for down payment purposes. If the first and second are being financed by the same bank or mortgage company, the short sale is much less difficult. Short sales are not guaranteed and each case will be judged as a separate entity based on the sellers hardship. Short sales that are approved can take four months or longer. Here’s the protocol to achieve results and expedite the process.

Find A Realtor: An experienced short sale agent will be a valuable asset as a counselor, negotiator, mediator and advisor. Your realtor will wear many hats during this stressful situation and you get his expertise at no cost. The negotiated commission is paid by the bank.

Contact Your Lender: Proceed with the knowledge that you will have to make numerous phone calls before speaking with the supervisor that can actually make decisions. Make sure you keep records of your conversations and who you spoke with. This supervisor will not make a decision on the short sale approval at this time. They will inform you of what is expected to eventually get approval.

Authorization Letter: Lenders will need your written permission to have the realtor negotiate on your behalf. This letter should include the realtors company and name. All correspondence should have your name and loan number. With the large number of short sales being processed, don’t be surprised or frustrated that paperwork is lost or misplaced by the short sale department. Confirm receipt.

Hardship Letter: The letter will describe your hardship and is basically a plea to the lender to accept less than full payment. Honesty is the best policy. Lenders have become more sympathetic to the economic blight many homeowners find themselves in.

Documents Required: The same documents required to buy a home are the same they need to determine your eligibility for the short sale. Proof of income and all assets. Copies of bank statements including any retirement accounts and stocks in your name and taxes over the last couple of years.

Realtor Requirements: A comprehensive market analysis showing an estimate of value. This is a factual estimate substantiating the reason you can not pay off the loan in full to the lender. A listing agreement signed by both seller and their agent and a purchase contract with an agreed sales price signed by the seller and buyer. An itemized net sheet showing fees and cost associated with the sale are required with the accepted offer. Lenders will then decide what if any fees, repairs or cost they will pay. At this point is when the lender will approve the short sale. Both foreclosures and short sales have an adverse effect on your credit, short sales to a lesser extent. There are documented cases of short sale participants buying another home within two years. Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my informative blogs and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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As we slowly recover from the housing market debacle and the plethora of foreclosures and short sales, one element has created a strain and curtailed a quicker comeback. Many home prices and the general condition of that property are not conducive to a home actually selling. This dilemma has had a negative impact on our recovery. When homes linger on the market, this sends a bad message to home buyers. They become cautious and more likely to delay buying a home until prices come down.

Today’s home buyer will not blindly bid on a home without knowing the activity surrounding that property including properties that have sold and active listings on the market. Condition has become an important factor whether a home sales or becomes a casualty of the housing recession. Unfortunately, it’s common for a property to sit on the market for months and become stale, then out of frustration the owner decides to pull their property from the market.Those sellers are disappointed with the successes other neighbors have had selling their home, but fell to realize those neighbors had properly priced their home on par with the condition.  

Every home does not have the luxury of the perfect location, therefore sellers have to be conscious of their homes price and condition. Just because the home down the street received a full-price offer in seven days does not mean you’ll be so blessed. Step outside the box and look at your home subjectively or have friends give you an unbiased opinion of your homes condition. Armed with this information, then have your listing agent take you out and view the properties in your immediate neighborhood.

The concept of pricing high, we can always reduce it later is a strategy that many homeowners live to regret. The first few weeks on the market are the most critical time. Properties that usually garner full-price proposals do so during this small window. A well-maintained home, combined with a competitive price will be attractive, regardless of the time of year or the economic environment. Most buyers will bypass houses that have been sitting on the market too long, even though those sellers might have made price adjustments throughout the process. A number of homes will transfer this year and the glaring fact will be the price and condition were in line with buyers expectations. Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my other informative blogs and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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Every situation has a beginning and an end, a start and a finish. Buying a home is no different. The purchase of a home will be by far the biggest ticket item a family will buy in their lifetime. Owning a home is a long-term financial commitment that requires time and patience on the part of the prospective home buyer. Whether you are a first-timer or repeat buyer the process can be exhausting and overwhelming, but with such a large investment, buyers have to take it one step at a time and follow the time proven blueprint that will ensure a successful cost saving experience.

Pre Approval: If done correctly, this step will take time and is almost as important as the home itself. Most lenders have fairly equal rates, it’s the fees they charge that differentiate themselves from each other. The most cost-effective approach is to interview multiple banks or mortgage brokers, making them aware you will be comparison shopping. Request a “Good Faith Estimate” from each lender and allow no credit checks during this preliminary stage. This method allows buyers to then compare each estimate and be assured they have the very best loan with minimum upfront fees. The only credit check will be done by the lender that you decide to do business with.

Choose Your Agent Wisely:All realtors are not created equally. Using an agent that has successfully worked with friends or a family member is one avenue. An experienced realtor can be an advisor and a valuable source of information that is worth their weight in gold. if the friend or family referral is not possible, then meeting an experienced realtor at weekend open houses is a good start. The chosen agent should keep you updated and available at all times for questions or to view new homes on the market. If it appears this realtor takes numerous vacations or not available more times than not, then switching agents in midstream is acceptable. Remember to choose your agent wisely.

Your Dream Home: It’s time to get busy finding that near perfect home. You have your realtor, lender and pre approval letter and have probably already seen a few properties that meet your requirements. Most homes for sale have virtual tours on the Internet and can easily be accessed through the numerous real estate sites. Location is still the most important criteria. The condition can be improved over time, but location can’t be changed. Some home prices are negotiable, unless there are competing offers, then you have to assume a full price offer is in order.

Inspection Contingency: The California Residential Purchase Contract has numerous contingencies in play for the buyers protection, one being the seventeen day inspection contingency. A buyer has that amount of time to perform as many inspections as  they deem necessary. This allows the buyer the satisfaction of knowing the home they purchase is free of major defects. Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my informative blogs and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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