The Price is Probably Right

California-Hot-hi-res

In 2017 home prices in California were priced right at market more than 2/3 of the time.  WAIT?  Is that what this data is telling us?  Well . . . YES!  If you look closely at the percentage of homes in 2017 that sold above asking price was 32.9%.  That also means that 67.1% of the homes were price at or below market.  One of the greatest challenges for home buyers is feeling comfortable long after the escrow closes and the movers have left that the price paid for that new home was a deal.  Isn’t it?  For most homeowners their home IS the largest asset they may ever own in their life so it strikes home, no pun intended!  Although the data in this share today indicates California is getting to be a very warm market, at least for those that already did buy they can rest assure they at least paid a market price.  And if they didn’t, there was a good chance that another buyer right around the corner probably would have.  Unsure if now is a good time to buy or sell a house in California?  I can help!  Feel free to message me to learn about options that are available to you!

Tax Reform: Is California a Winner?

As always, check with your tax advisor about how any changes in the tax laws will impact you.  Need a tax professional referral?  I’ve got you covered!  Two years ago I hired an excellent tax professional in LA that I have been very satisfied with and can refer to you.  Just send me a message!

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Down Payment Assistance Through Grants!

Buy v Rent

Recently I heard from some customers that rented a home in a very nice neighborhood that they want to begin the process of stepping up into home ownership.  But there was one problem.  When my customer’s spoke with their mortgage lender they were told they would need a seasoned down payment in order to qualify for the mortgage.  Although it is not uncommon for lenders to want to see a home buyer with some skin in the game, there are programs today that can even help with a home down payment!  So what is a seasoned down payment?  Simply put, its the amount of money that is in your bank account that will be used to cover the down payment and has been in your account greater than 2-3 months.  The reasoning behind the seasoning requirement for this article is not important because what my customer needed is to find the amount of money they don’t have saved with the amount the lender demands to qualify for the mortgage.  The loan my customer wanted was the First-Time Home Buyer loan which only required to have 3.5% of the purchase price in their savings account as a down payment.  Having only been able to save up 1% of the amount (because my customer is renting an expensive house) I told them about programs that are available that could help them obtain a grant towards the down payment.  And best yet, would not have to pay the grant back!  Not everyone will qualify for a grant, but just typing in “house down payment assistance” yielded no less than 2 million results!  Although no one has the time to research (nor will they need to) I am familiar with at least 20 programs in Los Angeles that home buyers can research to determine if they qualify for a house down payment grant.  It is important to note that no matter what direction you chose for down payment assistance, it is vital to communicate which program you chose with the realtor your working with so that when your offer to purchase is submitted that appropriate closing deadlines are planned so that you have enough time to receive the grant funds to fund your escrow.  To become more familiar with down payment assistance this Freddie Mac resource written by Danny Gardner is a perfect first step to understand the options home buyers have available to them.  Go here—–>  http://bit.ly/2od7yBQ

MIXED MESSAGES!

Who will forget the week of messages we just experienced!  First the (phony) message that set off innocent Hawaiians about ballistic missiles causing panic when instructed to  to seek immediate shelter!  Then football watchers at this Sunday’s Minnesota Viking game wearing Apple Watches being sent messages by their Apple Watch that they might have a heart issue which was actually caused by the excitement (and resulting increase of blood pressure) from the miracle play that resulted in the Vikings victory over the opposing Saints.  Messages people!!!  These events were one more reminder to me that STICKING TO THE PLAN is the only thing we can ever depend on.  This summer I was managing a single family remodeling project that was in its early stages.  An agent and a painter came over to look over the house and told me that I would be lucky to get around $525,000 when the house was finished.  I disagreed.  I told them that the house would be undergoing several floor plan changes that would re-create how the house could be used, thus giving it greater value.   Eyes would roll as you can imagine.  This didn’t deter me.  I was the one with plans in hand and after s

eeing how several similar remodeling projects had performed in the marketplace my plan was grounded reasonable expectations.  The target future value I held onto was $575k.  At times the project didn’t go well.  Work was slow because of the crushing summer heat and the workers just weren’t as productive as when temperatures were cooler.  Labor costs began to exceed budget.  It severely tried my patience.  But by the time the ‘heavy lifting’  was finished, opinions changed.  Agents and vendors alike remarked that $575k would be a good asking price.  Then, a nice break from the heat helped further advance progress so that hardwood flooring and kitchen cabinets could be installed.  The tide had turned.  In the end we finished over budget, with the house taking three months to sell and earning a $595k sales price at closing.  Sometimes you’ll work a project and you’ll field options that will differ from your plan.  If you’ve done your homework, those options are unqualified and should be disregarded as nothing more than a mixed message.  Mixed messages can cause chaos and confusion because they often lack clarity and grounding in facts!  My job was to maximize the value of the house so that when I finished the house it would have a value of at least $575k, potentially more.  When we sold the house above my target value it was one more reminder that STICKING TO THE PLAN is the only thing you can ever depend on.

PS.  I thought you would appreciate the before and after pictures this house project!

NOT Slowing Down at the Holidays

Holidays

The holiday season is such a festive time of year.  December is full of events “all-things-social.”  Mix in holiday shopping, traveling, preparing to travel, packing to travel…life gets busy this time of year!  I recently called a good friend in Phoenix who told me three quarters of her real estate office is out of the office.  I asked “is the office having a holiday party?”  Her response was amusing.  “No, they are out.  Everyone’s coming back after the 1st.”  As we continued to talk I mentioned to her that real estate can slow down this time of year.  Without missing a beat she responded, “We slow down, but some of us have to get things done.  I’m having one of my best months right now with customers who need to close before year end.”  She made a really good point.  For some sellers, renters, exchangers the holiday season doesn’t give their obligations a break till after the New Year.  For example, I’m still getting calls from customers who really need a house rental by the 1st of January.  Add that two local agents contacted me recently with two new listings in which the sellers need to close quickly.  Then I was contacted by two loan officers who are featuring special loan deals this month including no money down and no document programs for new home buyers.  So much for taking a break at the in December!  The amazing thing that I have learned over the years about real estate at the holidays is this:  buyers and renters have so little competition they practically control the deal!  If you think about it, where are most people you may know today?  Online shopping?  Traveling?  Running down to the grocery store to pick up holiday food supplies and beverages for the big meal?  Getting ready for tonights party/concert/program?  One example I can share recently was on a new home lease listing in Inglewood.  After speaking with the owner he explained to me, that even with the house only on the market for 3 days he would be willing to drop the asking rent $100/mos.  just to get a renter in by year end.  3 days on market!  It takes AT LEAST one weekend and a full week for the public to find a new listing, let alone set up an appointment for a showing!  This rarely happens in the spring, summer or early fall in my market.  Another example is of a seller that I made an offer on a single family house that needed major remodeling work.  A real fixer upper as you can imagine it.  Needs everything.  I asked the seller for several concessions including a very delayed closing to allow the bank (which FOR SURE will be working slowly at the holidays) to fund the deal into early February if needed.  The seller’s response was very generous and said “this sounds fine to me.”  WHAT OTHER TIME OF YEAR WOULD THIS HAPPEN?!?!?  Ahhh the holidays.  Yes, even with the shopping, the parties, the meals, those oh-so-social events that make the spirit of the season so rich and festive, there is still work to be done and deals to be had.  Except this time of year, it can really feel like a one person audience.  I don’t know about you but I like the odds of getting deals closed at the holidays more than any other time of the year.  Happy Holidays everyone and a joyous New Year!

Need help getting your deal done?  Contact me at buyorrentmyhomes@hotmail.com!

Paul Krause is a licensed California Realtor #01835890 and General Contractor #1029575 and is based out of Los Angeles, California.

 

NEW LISTING! Downey California!

This is a single family house project which I remodeled in Downey California.  I installed a new 3-ton Central Air Conditioning and forced air heat system, new electrical and sub panel, windows, bathrooms, a fully remodeled kitchen with new cabinets and appliances which features a very open floor plan!  Also includes a studio apartment attached to the 2-car garage which has its own 1-ton Air Conditioning system and forced air heat system so its IDEAL for OWNERSHIP AND INCOME POTENTIAL!  Available IMMEDIATELY, Take a look —->

Front EntraceFront Side yardKitchenKitchen 2Kitchen and Laundry roomDinging Room and living roomMaster BathroomMaster BedroomBedroom 1Bedroom 2Bedroom 3BathroomBathroom ShowerBack YardStudio ApartmentStudio KitchenetteStudio Full BathroomTwo Car Garage

What This Single Mom Did To Keep Her House

House

You arrive home tired and exhausted from a long day at work only to find the house is empty and very quiet.  An envelope addressed to you is left in the usual place where you usually place your things when you arrive home.  Opening the letter you find a one page note:

I’M SORRY BUT I JUST CAN’T HERE ANY LONGER.  I’M MOVING BACK HOME TO SORT THINGS OUT.  TELL THE KIDS I LOVE THEM.

Can you imagine coming home from a long day at work to this letter?!?!  Neither can I!

But for Norah this is exactly what happened.  This was a serious problem.  The spouse, father and income-contributor of the family had just deserted a family that very much depended on him.  Norah had to make some hard choices over the next few weeks.  Because she had made the purchased the home she was living in prior to getting married, her primary residence was in her name only.  After sorting out her situation Norah had approached my colleague with the idea of selling the house for $375,000.  She would then downsize into a less expensive apartment that she and her 2 young children could start over.  Norah felt she had enough equity to cover two years of rent but still had sizable monthly bills.  One of the largest bills was her automobile loan, a stiff $400/month.  Norah still owed $9000.00 on the auto loan so the debt wasn’t going away anytime soon.  After learning about Norah’s circumstance my colleague could see she was in a tough position. Not just because of her bills, but because of her life circumstance.  Loosing the financial and emotional support of her spouse, uprooting her 2 young children, selling the house, moving into new surroundings and into a new apartment.  This would be a lot.  My colleague sat down with Norah and looked at her monthly budget.  There was no question that she earned a good living, but the auto loan was expensive.  Looking deeper into the details my colleague found that Norah had the money to cover the mortgage.  She just didn’t have much left over after paying all her bills.  To provide a solution she suggested that she would be willing to buy the house from Norah with a 5 year option.  As part of her down payment, which would be non-refundable she paid off the car note to the bank.  She then originated a promissory note with Norah in which Norah would pay her $137/month for the next 5 years.  My colleague agreed to reduced the auto loan by $1000 and then deduct it against the Option purchase price she offered.  This would keep the monthly auto payment down.  Even better, she told Norah that if during or at the end of the 5 years she wanted to buy out the option from my colleague, she could purchase the house back at a price they would agree to, or a 10% increase whichever was less.  They agreed to the deal.  Norah had to agree to not miss any payments on auto loan and maintain the property(repairs), taxes and insurance.  So what did this accomplish for both parties?

-Norah was able to continue to live in her house and keep the children in the same school district.

-Norah was able to sell her house at $375,000 without hassle by accepting the option.

-For the next 5 years Norah can sort out her financial goals without the pressure of moving and starting all over again.

-Norah will still be paying down her mortgage debt so if she sells the house in 5 years she will still have received 5 years of mortgage interest deductions on her taxes.

-For the next 5 years if Norah’s financial situation improves she may buy out the option and repurchase the house – thus never moving.

-Norah reduced her monthly expenses by refinancing the auto-loan with the Option buyer at a more affordable payment which will leave her with more money in her pocket at the end of the month.

– The buyer’s option guaranteed a minimum of a 10% increase on the purchase price if Norah were to buy out the option.  A 32% return on investment after paying $9000 to pay off the original auto loan.

-Even if Norah doesn’t buy out the option she agreed to continue to maintain the property (repairs), pay the mortgage, taxes and insurance so the buyer has zero property management issues to deal with.

Although Norah could have sold her home, this solution gave Norah favorable options in which to stabilize her life circumstances to give her the confidence to face her financial challenges from a position of strength.

Don’t overlook WIN-WIN scenarios.  The obvious isn’t always the best solution.

Contact me if your looking for solutions to your housing needs!

buyorrentmyhomes@hotmail.com