Home Buyers

Interview with C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young

By Joe Lins
February 15, 2016

I had the opportunity to interview California Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young after her presentation at the Pacific West Association of REALTORS® February general membership meeting. I asked her three questions about the real estate industry and specifically Orange County real estate.

Those three questions were:

1) What is the biggest disruption facing the real estate industry?

2) How healthy is the Orange County real estate market?

3) What is the biggest opportunity for the consumer in Orange County?

She’s a smart woman and I value her insight. Watch this short video for her responses.

 

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About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Escrow and How It Works

By Nancy Mattaliano-Castaneda
February 2, 2016

Buying a home is a huge undertaking and requires a good understanding of the process. In California, once a buyer and seller agree to the terms of the sale the next step is to open escrow. First time buyers or people who have not bought or sold a home in awhile may not know what escrow is.

Couple taking a break from unpacking

Here is a brief overview of what escrow is and how it works.

What is Escrow?

Escrow is a process that protects the interest of all parties in a real estate transaction, ensuring that all the conditions of the sale have been met before property and money change hands.

Why Do I Need One?

You need escrow to ensure that all parties have complied with the escrow instructions before any funds are disbursed or title is transferred. The escrow company has an obligation to safeguard the funds and/or documents while they are in the officer’s possession and to disburse funds and/or convey title only when all parties have met the terms of the escrow instructions.

What is the Escrow process?

Once a purchase contract has been negotiated to the satisfaction of both the seller and buyer, a legible fully-signed copy is forwarded to the escrow company. The escrow officer will then prepare supplemental instructions and place the earnest money deposit into a trust account. The buyer and seller can move forward separately, but simultaneously, in obtaining inspections, reports, loan commitments, funds, deeds and many other items using escrow as the central depositing point.

Who to Contact with Questions:

Your REALTOR® will answer questions about your purchase contract agreement. Your loan officer will answer all questions about your loan status, conditions of your loan and the loan process. Your escrow officer will help or direct you with any other questions. A good escrow officer understands you will have questions and should be willing to answer them or direct you to the person who can.

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About the Author: Nancy Mattaliano-Castaneda is an Escrow Officer at Equity Escrow Group, Ltd. in Fullerton, California. For more information about Equity Escrow Group, Ltd. call 714.626.2095 or visit the website www.equityescrow.net.

5 Places You Forgot Potential Buyers Will Check

By Guest Blogger
October 15, 2015
This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on October 14, 2015 *

An open house is a crucial component of the home sale process. Start with these tips for staging an open house, but don’t stop there. Potential buyers are likely to inspect all areas of the house. Yes, even your “junk drawer” and closets. Here’s a list of five often forgotten places that potential homeowners may check.

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The sides of your house

When you spruce up your front yard and backyard, pay attention the sides of your home as well. Potential buyers will likely look at the exterior of your house from all angles. One unkempt side may turn them off from the rest of the home. Make sure the paint and landscaping is in good condition from all angles.

Inside your closets

Don’t stuff everything in your closets and hope no one will open them. Even if the potential buyers aren’t fashionistas, they may still care about closet space. Show it off by organizing it. You wouldn’t want a potential buyer to open a closet just to find a hodgepodge of the belongings you stashed there.

Under your bed

Removing the bulk of storage from your closets is a great way to make closet space appear bigger, but that doesn’t mean your stuff should be shoved under the bed. Not only is it an eyesore, but the potential homebuyer might also see it as a sign that there is not enough storage space. Your best bet is to invest in temporary external storage space so that your open house has all the space it needs.

Inside the shower

Chances are no one wants a small, cramped bathroom. Create storage solutions that may make your space appear bigger and brighter to buyers. For example, stash toiletries and cleaning supplies in a separate closet, a dresser, or under the sink.

Your drawers and cabinets

Potential buyers will probably open drawers and cabinets. Spend time getting inspired by these home organizers. Think about all of the details like your spice rack, whether your dishes match, and finally taming your “junk drawer.” In need of more inspiration? Our Pins may help!

Go the extra mile, and don’t get caught off guard. You wouldn’t want to scream a slow motion “nooooo” as a potential buyer innocently reaches to open a closet.

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.

Homeowners Insurance Purchasing Tips

By Stephanie Goedl
July 21, 2015

I recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Williams of Williams Insurance Brokers as part of our Community Conversations Series. He offered some great insight and tips on what to consider when purchasing Homeowners Insurance. Watch the full interview below. Remember, when purchasing Homeowners Insurance always consult your professional insurance agent when you begin the home buying process.

About the author: Stephanie Goedl is the Chief Operating Officer of CENTURY 21 Discovery. For more information about CENTURY 21 Discovery you may call (714) 626-2000.

Creatively Saving For A Down Payment For Your First Home

By Shantell Lorraine Nicole Russell of New American Funding*
June 8, 2015
Originally Published on June 4, 2015

moneyNAFblogRental rates are quickly rising making it more difficult to continue affording an apartment. While purchasing a home might seem like a less expensive option, saving for a down payment on a house is likely one of the more difficult aspects of becoming a home owner. One of the common standards for a down payment is 20 percent of the total value of the home. This can add up quickly and between mountains of student debt and the entry level job market, setting aside funds can be a challenge. However, with more lenient lending standards and a few tricks, you can start saving and become one step closer to owning a home of your own.

Understand the importance of a down payment
Before you begin planning to save up some extra cash, know how a down payment impacts your ability to become a homeowner. A down payment is the money you put toward a home right away. Zillow noted that the amount you can contribute upfront can impact the type of home mortgage you qualify for and ultimately how much house you can afford. In addition, your credit score and income also contribute to the home loan you ultimately receive.

This can help you determine how much you want to save for your future home. If you would like to purchase a more expensive home, but do not have the credit score or annual income to support higher monthly mortgage payments, providing a larger down payment can help ensure you still can afford a home more congruent to your preferences. Additionally, paying less than 20 percent of the total value of the home may mean that you need to also pay mortgage insurance on a regular basis.

Mortgage insurance is a way to back up a loan in case you are unable to make payments due to your financial circumstances.

Options for low down payments
If you are interested in acquiring a home without spending a great deal of money up front, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, government-backed lenders, both offer loans with 3 percent down payment options.

First-time homebuyers may qualify for these affordable options depending on their ability to provide specific information and meet certain standards to avoid underwriting mortgages. For example, Freddie Mac mandates that applicants can cover the closing costs as well as the full down payment agreement. Additionally, homebuyers must enroll in a borrower education program similar to the one offered by Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae also implemented similar requirements to combat lending money to an unsuitable candidate who is unable to afford a home.

Techniques for saving money 
After deciding how much money you wish to save for a down payment, USA Today recommended setting up automatic contributions to your savings account every pay period. This ensures that you are not tempted to dip into your pot and spend any of your money before putting it into your savings account. In addition, automatically sending money to your savings account is a great idea as long as you have properly budgeted for a specific amount to be contributed regularly.

Developing an adjusted budget to accommodate your new efforts is an important step to the process. Decide how much money you need for your expenses, like rent, bills, food and any debt. Then allot additional money for recreational spending.

The Daily Finance also noted it might be a smart idea to keep your savings safely stored away somewhere that it is more difficult for you to access. Consider starting a high-yield savings account or CD.

Know where to make cuts
There are a number of frivolous expenses that can add up and prevent you from saving for a down payment on a house. Below are some extra expenses you might consider reducing to help increase your savings:

  • Making daily coffee shop runs
  • Eating out regularly
  • Going out to the bars
  • Going to the movies
  • Taking weekend trips
  • Having regular manicures or pedicures
  • Attending concerts, plays and other performances


Add additional income

If you are ready to purchase your first home as soon as possible, you may want to increase your annual income. Consider picking up a weekend job or increasing your overtime hours at your current job. Automatically put all extra incoming money into your savings account to help quicken the growth of your future down payment. Think about doing a little freelance work to increase your total income as well.

Additionally, if you receive any extra cash, such as a tax return or birthday money from a family member, contribute that toward your savings. Money Manifesto recommended pretending that this extra income does not exist and automatically depositing the extra funds to help with your down payment fund.

Becoming a homeowner is a substantial milestone. Start saving for your down payment if you are interested in making the step toward owning your very own property.

*Article reprinted with permission from New American Funding. Licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act – License #4131117 Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding (NMLS #6606) Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. 800.450.2010

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For more information about loan options contact
Chris Smith NMLS# 253394 at Chris.Smith@nafinc.com
Bill FitzMaurice NMLS# 290216 Bill.Fitzmaurice@nafinc.com

Apps for Home Buyers and Sellers

By Guest Blogger
March 31, 2015
This was originally published in the official blog of Century 21® on February 22, 2015*

When you are in the process of buying or selling a home, there are a lot of tasks that need to be handled. It can seem overwhelming, but with the right tools, you can stay organized and on top of everything that needs to be done. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Use these apps to help stay productive and organized during the home buying and selling process.

1. Evernote: Evernote is a note taking tool with lots of useful features that will help you stay organized on the go. Create separate notebooks for each step of the home buying process, for example: you could make notebooks for “Wants and Needs,” “Open House Reflections” “Financial Information,” “Closing Notes,” and more. You can even create bulleted lists, and attach photos and PDFs. Evernote syncs with all of your devices so you always have access to what you need.

2. Dropbox: Dropbox is essential for storing and organizing documents and paperwork. You have easy access to everything you need with the click of a button! Share documents or entire folders with your home buying team instantly so you’re always on the same page. Just like Evernote, Dropbox is able to sync with all electronics, giving you complete access to what you need!

3. CENTURY 21® Real Estate: Our app allows you to quickly find listings, sales associates, and nearby open houses. The app is GPS enabled so you can search listings specifically targeted for your location. You can also search based on price range, features, estimated taxes, square footage, and much more.

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4. AroundMe: Learn about your potential new neighborhood. AroundMe[MH1] uses GPS to determine your location and in an instant, you’re able to see how close everything, from gas stations to movie theaters, is to the potential home.

These apps will help you stay organized and productive during your home buying or selling process.

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.