Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

April 8, 2020

The Difference Between Mortgage Deferment and Forbearance

The Difference Between Mortgage Deferment and Forbearance

April 7, 2020

More homeowners are in search of mortgage relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and options like mortgage deferment and mortgage forbearance are becoming readily available to those in need.

But “we are seeing the terms being used interchangeably,” Sara Singhas, director of loan administration for the Mortgage Bankers Association, told realtor.com®.

Mortgage deferment and mortgage forbearance allow borrowers to temporarily stop making their monthly payments, but they differ in what happens afterwards. At the end of a forbearance period, the amount of payments missed are due in a lump sum, Singhas explains. However, lenders may choose to work with borrowers to structure a payment plan.

On the other hand, deferment is allowing borrowers to repay the money over time or add it to the end of their loan period.

“Technically, a mortgage forbearance agreement is when you’ve possibly been late, and the lender agrees not to foreclosure during that forbearance period,” Krista Allred, a mortgage loan originator, told realtor.com®.

In the current landscape, many borrowers haven’t become past due on their mortgage yet. But an the pandemic causes unemployment numbers to rise, borrowers are in a rush to seek help before they default.

“The moral of the story right now is to call your lender,” Allred says. “Don’t just assume you can skip a payment. Call them, let them know, and make arrangements.”

Forbearance and deferment aren’t the only options. Some lenders are doing loan modifications, too.

The bottom line is that lenders want to remind consumers: Nothing is free.

“It's not free mortgage payments; it's not free money. [Forbearance] is temporarily hitting the pause button on your mortgage, and not having to make the payment,” Mary Bell Carlson, a certified financial planner who operates a blog under “Chief Financial Mom,” told realtor.com®. “It does not necessarily pause the interest that is accruing, and it does mean that you're going to have to make that principal and interest payment at a later date.”

Source: 

Mortgage Deferment and Mortgage Forbearance—Is There a Difference?” realtor.com® (April 7, 2020)

Posted in Mortgage Related
April 6, 2020

CARES Act Economic Relief Plan for Individuals and Families

CARES Act Economic Relief Plan for Individuals and Families

The information below is a summary of the CARES Act recently passed signed by President Trump to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This information is subject to change as additional details emerge around how these programs will be implemented. The complete CARES Act is available from the link below.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/748/text

DISCLAIMER: Fiona & Colin Theseira and RE/MAX United do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. The information below is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal, financial and accounting advisors to understand how the new CARE Act applies to your situation.
View CARES Act for Businesses
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For Individuals & Families

Direct stimulus payments to individuals and families:

  • $1,200 for individuals; $2,400 for married couples
    • $500 per child under age 17
    • Head of household also to receive $500 per child under age 17
  • Payments received are not taxable

Eligible Recipients

  • All US residents with a work eligible Social Security number
  • Has an individual adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000/year or
    • Income limit for those filing as head of household is $112,500, and for married couples is $150,000
  • Benefits are reduced by $5 for every $100 of income above the category
    • Benefits are entirely phased out for:
      • Individual filers with AGI above $99,000
      • Head of household filers who claim one child with AGI above $146,500
      • Joint married filers with AGI above $198,000
    • AGI calculation is based on the most recently filed tax return (2018 or 2019)
    • For those collecting Social Security payments with income below tax filing threshold, the Social Security Benefit Form SSA-1099 is used to determine eligibility

Timeline

Eligible residents should receive a direct deposit within three weeks. Checks may take a little longer via snail mail.
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Unemployment Insurance 

Eligible Recipients

Employees, freelancers, gig economy workers, and self-employed are eligible for unemployment benefits. In addition, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will broaden the category of eligible recipients, extend the duration of benefits, and increase the dollar amount of unemployment benefits. 

  • Unemployment benefits is extended to 13 weeks beyond 26 weeks
  • For 4 months, benefits are increased by $600/week 

Some lower-income workers will be able to maintain their full salaries under the program if forced out of work as the result of the pandemic.

Direct link to apply for California unemployment benefits
https://portal.edd.ca.gov/WebApp/Login
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Paid Sick Leave

Phase II of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, full-time employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees (and with conditional exceptions for those with fewer than 50 employees) are provided with 80 hours of paid sick leave.

  • Part-time workers receive paid sick leave for a number of hours equal to the average number of hours worked over a 2-week period 
  • Payments are equal to 100% of normal compensation ($511/day maximum) 

Eligible Recipients:

  • US employees of small- and mid-sized firms who have worked for the company for at least one month and are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19
  • Employees are not required to be or become ill to qualify for sick leave
  • Employees instructed to remain at home or comply with company social distancing rules are eligible
  • May be used in addition to paid family leave
  • Parents of minor children who cannot work or telework because of child care duties cause by school closures may qualify for paid sick leave (in addition to paid family leave).

More Information:

The Labor Department has discretion to permit employers with fewer than 50 employees to opt out if complying with the mandate would jeopardize the viability of the business.

  • Employers with 500 or more employees are exempt
  • Employers of healthcare workers and emergency responders may elect to exclude employees

Visit the DOL (Department of Labor) website for additional information
https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic
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Paid Family Leave

Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave at 2/3 of an employee’s usual pay rate with $200/day maximum.

Eligibility:

  • US employees of small- and mid-sized firms who have worked for the company for at least one month and are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19
  • Eligible if need to quarantine, care for a family member, or care for a child at home because of school closure

More Information:

Visit the DOL (Department of Labor) website for additional information
https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic
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Student Loans

  • Borrowers with federal student loans are permitted to defer payments penalty free until September 30, 2020
  • Borrowers must request a forbearance from their loan servicer
  • Borrower who are not in default will automatically have their interest rate set to 0% for at least 60 days
  • All requests for garnishments from paychecks, federal income tax returns, and social security payments for defaulted borrowers have been stopped
  • Garnishments withheld from March 13, 2020 will be refunded
  • Private collection efforts have also been stopped
  • Employer-paid student loan payments up to $5,250 are temporarily excluded from income tax reporting

Eligible Recipients:

  • Federal student loan borrowers in repayment, depending upon standing

More information:

https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus
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Medicare/Medicaid

  • COVID-19 lab tests (with no out-of-pocket costs), medically necessary hospitalizations (including quarantine), qualifying vaccines (if available), and telemedicine

Eligible Recipients:

  • Covered by Medicare or Medicaid

More information:

https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus
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Qualified Retirement Plan Withdrawals

The required minimum distribution (RMD) for 2020 may be skipped

  • This includes a 2019 RMD that was delayed to 4/1/2020
  • Awaiting official IRS guidance around rules regarding inherited IRA and inherited 401(k) accounts, so consult with your tax professional before making a withdrawal from those accounts

Up to $100,000 may with withdrawn penalty-free from IRAs, employer-sponsored retirement plans, or a combination of both, for those impacted by COVID-19.

  • By default, the income tax on the distribution is split evenly across the 2020, 2021, and 2022 tax years, or
  • You can choose to elect to include all of the income in your 2020 income, or
  • Funds may be repaid over a three-year period back into a retirement account, and any taxes withheld on the distribution may be reclaimed as a refund by filing an amended tax return

Eligibility:

Anyone with an employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA who was impacted by COVID-19 or currently taking RMDs. Impact from COVID-19 is defined as:

  • Being diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Having a spouse or dependent diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Experiencing adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, or reduced work hours due to the virus
  • Inability to work due to lack of child care due to virus
  • Owning a business that closed or operated under reduced hours due to the virus
  • Other factors as determined by the IRS

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Employer-Sponsored Plan Loans

Permitted loan amounts from employer-sponsored plans (401(k), 403(b), and 457(b)) have been increased for those affected by COVID-19.

  • The amount employees may borrow has been increased to the lesser of 50% to 100% of the vested plan balance or $100,000

Any existing loan that was to be repaid in 2020 may delay repayment for 1 year

Eligibility:

  • Must be enrolled in an eligible employer-sponsored plan
  • The plan document must already have a provision allowing participant loans
  • The loan must be made by December 31, 2020
April 5, 2020

CARES Act Economic Relief Plan for Businesses

CARES Act Economic Relief Plan for Businesses

The information below is a summary of the CARES Act recently passed signed by President Trump to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The information below is subject to change as additional details emerge around how these programs will be implemented.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/748/text

DISCLAIMER: Fiona & Colin Theseira and RE/MAX United do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. The information below is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal, financial and accounting advisors to understand how the new CARE Act applies to your situation.

View CARES Act for Individuals and Families
_______________________________________________________________________

Assistance For Businesses

PHASE II: FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT

This program is different and separate from the program in Phase III (“CARES Act”), and participating in this program may make the borrower ineligible for participating in the Phase III program.  These loans are issued by the government, and not by banks.  Businesses with an urgent need for financing may wish to seek more conventional SBA 7(a) loans due to anticipated delays in finalizing terms and details.

Emergency Grants Under SBA Disaster Loan Program for COVID-19

  • Amount: Advance of $10,000 within 3 days
  • Eligibility: US business owners with 500 or fewer employees
  • Permitted Use: Provide paid sick leave, maintain payroll, or meet other debt obligations

More information: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance

SBA Economic Injury - Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)

  • Loan Size: Up to $2,000,000
  • Eligibility: Small businesses, including ESOPs, and non-profits affected by the coronavirus in presidential- and SBA-declared disaster areas.
    More information: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19
  • Interest Rate:     2.75% for non-profits
  • 3.75% for small businesses
  • Term length: Variable, but up to 30 years
  • Documentation Needed: Supporting documentation could include most recent business tax returns, a personal financial statement, and a schedule of liabilities listing all current debts

How to apply     

  • Online directly with the SBA at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ using “Economic Injury” as the reason, or
  • Call the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339), or
  • Email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

More information: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

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PHASE III: CARES ACT

Small Business - Interruption Loans (Paycheck Protection Program)

Eligibility:

Businesses (including sole proprietors & self-employed) & non-profits (except those with Medicaid funds) and

  • with fewer than 500 employees (subject to the limited exceptions); or
  • that meet the Small Business Administration’s industry-based “size standard”;
  • requirements for the applicable NAICS code (based either on number of employees or annual receipts)

Must have been “substantially affected by COVID-19,” which is interpreted as:

  • supply chain disruptions;
  • staffing challenges;
  • a decrease in sales or customers; or
  • shuttered businesses

Loan Duration & Amount

Maximum maturity of 2 years, the amount to be the lesser of (a) $10 million or (b) 2.5x the average total monthly payments by the applicant for payroll costs incurred for 2019; plus

  • the amount of any SBA-provided Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) taken out after January 1, 2020
  • No collateral or personal guarantees are required
  • Payments on outstanding balances begin after 6 months, prepayment fees are waived, and loans are eligible for forgiveness
  • Interest rate is 0.5%

For newer companies, or those with seasonal employees, average payroll costs from January 1 to February 29, 2020 are used for part (b)

Allowable Use of Funds       

  • Payroll support (up to $100k annual salary), including paid sick, medical, or family leave, and costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during those periods of leave
  • Employee salaries
  • Mortgage interest payments
  • Rent (including rent under a lease agreement)
  • Utilities; and
  • Any other debt interest obligations that were incurred before the covered period

Loan Forgiveness Requirements

An eligible recipient shall be eligible for forgiveness of indebtedness in an amount equal to the cost of maintaining payroll continuity and other allowable costs during the covered periods (8 weeks from loan origination). The borrower shall submit an application to the lender, including documentation verifying the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and other costs specified under “Allowable Use:”

  • payroll tax filings reported to the IRS
  • state income, payroll, and unemployment insurance filings
  • financial statements verifying payments on debt obligations incurred before the covered period; and
  • any other necessary documentation to be determined

At least 75% of the loan funds must be used for payroll expenses to qualify for forgiveness.

The amount of any loan forgiveness will be reduced by any reductions in employee wages (in excess of 25% for any employee) or a reduction in the number of employees during the covered period.

A previously-received EIDL loan that has been refinanced into a PPP loan is eligible for forgiveness.

Taxability

Canceled indebtedness under this section shall be excluded from gross income

Other Items       

  • Small businesses and sole proprietors can apply beginning April 3rd
  • Self-employed individuals and independent contractors can begin applying April 10th
  • All loans will have the same terms and will be issued by SBA 7(a) lenders
  • Borrowers may not receive an EIDL loan and a PPP loan for the same purpose

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SBA Loan Relief

Enhancement

SBA loans that have already been distributed receive 6 months of loan forbearance on principal interest and fees.

Eligibility

Businesses with 500 or fewer employees that have current SBA loans
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Employee Retention Credit

Enhancement

  • Employers may receive a refundable payroll tax credit equal to the lesser of 50% of qualified wages or $5,000 per employee for wages paid to employees after March 12, 2020 and before January 1, 2021 if business activities were disrupted or suspended due to any government-imposed restrictions related to containing the spread of the virus
  • Businesses whose operations were not disrupted, but experienced a decline in revenue due to the virus, can also receive the same credits if gross receipts fell 50% as compared to the same quarter in the previous calendar year
  • Credits will continue until the earlier of December 31, 2020 or gross receipts exceed 80% of the same quarter’s gross receipts in the previous year

Eligibility

  • Credit can be claimed by employers with an average of more than 100 employees for all employees who are retained, but not currently working, as a result of COVID-19
  • For employers with an average of fewer than 100 employees, all wages paid qualify for the credit so long as the other requirements are met
  • Credits cannot be claimed for any wages paid by an SBA loan

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THE CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC STABILIZATION ACT (CESA)

Credit Support for Affected Businesses (other than Small Businesses)

Overview

  • The Secretary of the Treasury (Secretary) is given discretion to determine which businesses will be beneficiaries of the credit support but likely to include businesses that would otherwise not qualify for the Small Business Interruption Loans assistance, such as businesses with more than 500 employees
  • The Secretary will be authorized to make loans, guarantees and other investments (such as an equity stake or warrants) in support of eligible businesses as well as states and municipalities not to exceed $500 billion
  • An independent committee will oversee the program

Loan Amount & Terms

  • Maturity is not to exceed 5 years. The Secretary is given similar discretion on determining the terms related to rates, underwriting, and other terms and conditions. These loans are not forgivable

Compensation Limits

  • Businesses that receive loans or guarantees under this program will be required to agree to certain caps on compensation and severance payments for employees whose compensation exceeded $425,000 in the 2019 calendar year. Employees with compensation in excess of $425,000 will be capped at the 2019 levels, and any severance pay is not to exceed twice the maximum compensation received in 2019
  • For officers or employees who earned more than $3 million in 2019 annual salary, their compensation would be capped at $3 million plus 50% of the amount exceeding $3 million in 2019. For example, an individual earning $6 million in 2019 would be capped at $4.5 million ($3 million + 50% x [$6 million – $3 million] = $4.5 million)
  • These caps will remain in place for an additional 12 months beyond the period when the loan is outstanding

Buybacks & Dividends

  • Companies may not conduct stock buybacks nor provide dividends nor capital distributions to investors for an additional 12 months beyond the period when the loan is outstanding

Employment Levels

  • Until September 30, 2020, companies are to maintain employment levels as of March 24, 2020 to the extent that it’s practical, and in no case is the company to reduce employment by more than 10%

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Additional Relief Programs

Income Tax Filing & Payment     

  • The federal tax return filing and payment deadlines are now July 15, 2020
    • Check with state and local tax authorities for adjusted deadlines for those obligations
  • Individual and other non-corporate filers may defer income tax payments that would have been due April 15 without penalty or interest
  • Gig workers and the self-employed are eligible to receive paid sick leave benefits in the form of a tax credit

 https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

State and Local Relief Programs

Several local jurisdictions are supporting small businesses with loans, grants, or deferment of tax and fee collections.

 https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/03/20/list-of-coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-relief-programs/#3cc8d3d7e89d

 https://www.inc.com/kevin-j-ryan/coronavirus-resource-list-for-businesses.html?icid=hmside2

Business service providers   

Check with providers as many companies, utilities, etc. are providing discounts, payment deferrals and/or grants to small businesses.
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Phase II Stimulus

  • Tax credits for businesses with fewer than 500 employees to cover:
    • Two weeks of paid sick leave for employees who have been quarantined, have a sick family member, or have been affected by school closings
    • Up to three months of paid family and medical leave amounting to no less than two-thirds of regular pay for those employees listed above
  • The option for the Labor Department to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from abiding by the paid leave mandate, if the Labor Department decides the new law could pose an existential threat to the company

_____________________________________________________________

Phase III Stimulus       

Delays of payment of Employer Payroll Taxes

  • Payroll taxes due to the IRS through the end of 2020 can be deferred with 50% of those deferred payments due by December 31, 2021 and the remaining 50% due by December 31, 2022
  • Taxpayers that had indebtedness forgiven under the CARES Act are excluded from this benefit

Changes to Net Operating Loss Rules to use losses today against past profits to claim refunds

  • The Act temporarily reverses changes to how net operating losses can be carried back
  • Losses from 2018, 2019 and 2020 will be permitted to be carried back for up to five years (or forego the carryback and instead carry the loss forward)

Increases to the amount of interest expense businesses may deduct from 30% to 50% for 2019 and 2020

March 2, 2020

10 Insider Tips From a Designer Who Specializes in Small Baths

10 Insider Tips From a Designer Who Specializes in Small Baths

By: Dona DeZube

A New York City designer shares his secrets to making a small bath bath functional and beautiful.

Got a small bathroom to renovate? Go wild with texture and colors if it’s a rarely used guest bath, but stick to clean and simple in a master bath.

That’s the word from designer Jamie Gibbs, who transforms incredibly small New York City bathrooms into beautiful spaces. “I liked being shocked by details in a little space, especially if it’s not going to be used much,” Gibbs says.

His small-bath secrets:

1.     Avoid textures in bathrooms that get daily use. In a heavily used bathroom, anything with texture becomes a collection spot for mold, mildew, and toothpaste. Say no to carved vessel sinks or floor tile with indentations.

2.     Be careful with no-enclosure showers with drains right in the floor. These Euro showers allow for a feeling of openness, but the average American contractor doesn’t know how to waterproof the floor for them, Gibbs says. The tile seals can be compromised if not installed correctly, causing the materials to decompose, and water to leak underneath.

3.     Use opaque windows and skylights to let light filter into all parts of the bath. A long skinny window with frosted glass means you don’t have to burn high-wattage light bulbs. Make sure water condensation will roll off the window into an appropriate place (i.e. not the framing or the wall) to avoid future maintenance issues.

4.     Look for fixtures that have a single handle rather than separate hot and cold taps.“Space-saving gearshift faucets are a very good choice in small bathrooms,” says Gibbs. You’ll also save money by not having to drill holes in the countertop for the hot and cold taps.

5.     Save space with wall-mounted toilets and bidets, but be aware that the water tank goes into the wall. That’s fine if space is such a premium that you won’t mind going into the wall to make any repairs. But if you share a wall with a neighbor, that’s a different issue.

6.     Use a wall-mount faucet to make a reduced-depth vanity work in a small space. “I can get away with a 22” vanity instead of a 24” vanity with a wall mount faucet,” Gibbs says.

7.     Check the space between the handles and the faucet of any space-saving fixtures.“If you can only get a toothbrush in it to clean, you’ll save space, but it’s functionally stupid,” Gibbs says. Make sure the sink is functional, too. If you’re using a vessel sink, make sure it’s large enough and not too high. “If it’s too high, you’ll knock it so many times that the fittings will come loose,” Gibbs says.

8.     A pedestal sink is all form and no function. “It’s a great-looking sink, but there’s no place to [set] anything,” Gibbs says.

9.     Wall-mounted vanities seem like they’re space savers, but they create dead space between the vanity and the floor — a space that often accumulates junk and never gets cleaned.

10. If you’re comfortable with it, go European and put up a glass walls between the bathroom and bedroom to create the illusion of space. Or put bathroom fixtures in the bedroom just outside the bath.

Jan. 20, 2020

Learn The Truth - The Actual Cost of Convenience

Are you prepared to leave that much money on the table? Here is the true cost of convenience when working with a flipper, a real estate investor, or an iBuyer (e.g. Zillow, Opendoor, Offerpad, knock, Redfin Now, etc.).

 

 

Jan. 12, 2020

Market Report for Clairemont & Bay Park

Here's the latest market report for Clairemont & Bay Park - the 92117 zip code.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 2, 2019

San Diego Real Estate - Lets Move it

If your house no longer fits your needs and you are planning on buying a luxury home, now is a great time to do so! We recently shared data from Trulia’s Market Mismatch Study which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.

The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds those searching to purchase these properties in many areas of the country. This means that homes are often staying on the market longer which can eventually lead to a price change.

Those who have a starter or trade-up home to sell will find buyers competing, and often entering bidding wars, to be able to call your house their new home.

The sale of your starter or trade-up house will aid in coming up with a larger down payment for your new luxury home. Even a 5% down payment on a million-dollar home is $50,000.

But not all who are buying luxury properties have a home to sell first.

In a Washington Post article, Daryl Judy, an associate broker with Washington Fine Properties, gave some insight into what many millennials are choosing to do:

“Some high-earning millennials save money until they are in their early 30s to buy a place and just skip over that starter-home phase. They’ll stay in an apartment until they can afford to pay for the place they want.”

Bottom Line
The best time to sell anything is when demand is high and supply is low. If you are currently in a starter or trade-up house that no longer fits your needs and you are looking to step into a luxury home, now’s the time to list your house for sale and make your dreams come true.

April 18, 2019

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step When Buying A Homes In San Diego

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step When Buying A Homes In San Diego

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” 

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

Jan. 26, 2018

6 Near-Genius Ways to Fool Burglars Into Thinking You’re Home

San Diego Real Estate

Your home: You love it, but sometimes you have to leave it.

Whether it’s the eight hours a day or eight days on a dreamy beach, allowing your biggest investment to fend for itself can be stressful. And it’s a legit concern; when your home looks empty, break-ins happen. A lot. Ugh.

You could deter burglars by never leaving your house again. Or you could do the next best (OK, way better) thing, and just make it look like someone is there all the time. Here’s how.

#1 Light Up a Room (From the Road)

Your parents may still rely on their lighting timer — on at 8 p.m., off at 7 a.m. That old-fashioned option still works, but apps are more fun. They not only turn your lights on and off, but can do so randomly for a more realistic effect. And you can decide to flip on your porch light while sipping a mojito in Fiji.

You can Google your options, but one affordable example is the Lutron Caséta Wireless system (about $80 for the device and $55 per switch). You replace your current wall switches with these wireless ones and “talk” to your lights from afar.

#2 Fake a Netflix Binge

Nothing says “we are definitely home” like the colorful glare of a television dancing in the window.

Put the little FakeTV gizmo where it can project light onto a curtain, and that’s exactly what your home will say to passersby.

The device (which runs between about $20 and $40 depending on size) plugs into an adapter and can either work on a timer or with a light sensor, so it can switch on when it gets dark.

#3 Change Up Your Shades Remotely

Leave your window shades down while you’re gone and you might as well put out a “Gone Fishin’” sign.

Check out wireless options to throw some shade on the go. Several companies have systems — including Hunter Douglas PowerView, Pella Insynctive, and Lutron Serena — that allow shades to go up and down at your command for about $300 to $500 a window.

#4 Make Some Noise

Burglars can change plans in a hurry at the first sound of life inside a home — they’re a bit tetchy that way. So one option when you’re just gone for the day is a noise app, like Sleep And Noise Sounds that can play on a homebound phone, tablet, or computer. With noises like vacuuming and a boiling kettle, it can deter a thief who cracks open a window.

#5 Make Them Ring And Run

“Burglars will often ring your doorbell, and if no one answers, they’ll go around back and kick in the door,” says Deputy Michael Favata with the Monroe County Sheriff’s office in New York. Now you can answer the door with the Ring Video Doorbell ($180 for the basic model).

If someone pushes the doorbell, you can talk to them through an app on your phone. Whether it’s your nosey neighbor or a sketchy stranger, you can say, “I’m in the basement” while you’re really on the slopes. They’ll never know. And even if they don’t believe you, they know they’re being watched (insert devilish laugh here).

#6 Try a No-Tech Technique

Not everything requires a gadget. Here are ways to up your home security without downloading a single app:

  • Hire a house sitter. Then someone will be home.
  • If there’s snow, have a neighbor walk up and down the path to your door, shovel a passage up to the garage door and drive in and out of the driveway. If it’s hot out, ask them to keep your plants looking fresh with regular waterings. And don’t forget to bring them a nice gift from your getaway.
  • Ask friends, family, or neighbors to just be present on your property — use your patio, play in your yard, or bring in the mail.
  • Invite a neighbor to keep a car parked in your driveway. During the holidays, they may be happy if they need overflow for visitors.
  • Install a fake security camera for as low as $8. Burglars may not notice these fakes don’t have all the wiring necessary to be real. And their blinking red lights offer reasonable doubt.
  • Get a dog. A real dog. While you’re at work or running errands, nothing deters bad guys and gals like a barking, slobbery security guard. And when you go away, having a pet sitter stay can be as economical as some boarding facilities (especially if you have multiple dogs), and you’ll get the benefit of a human and canine sentinel.

Article by: STACEY FREED

Jan. 9, 2018

Housing inventory challenges

The housing crisis is finally in the rearview mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest points in years. It seems that the market will continue to strengthen in 2018.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the winter, supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

National Association of Realtors

“Total housing inventory at the end of November dropped 7.2 percent to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 9.7 percent lower than a year ago (1.85 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 30 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.0 months a year ago.”

Joseph Kirchner, Senior Economist for Realtor.com

“The increases in single-family permits and starts show that builders are planning and starting new construction projects, that’s a good thing because it will help to relieve the shortage of homes on the market.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic

Inventory is tighter than it appears. It’s much lower for entry-level buyers.”

Bottom Line 

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.