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Pacifica's Escrow Process

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

When purchasing a Pacifica home, part of the process to complete the sale is when the potential homeowner will enter into escrow. Many first time homebuyers have many questions about the escrow process. Below are some clarification and information on this important process.

What is an escrow? An escrow is an arrangement in which a disinterested third party, called a escrow holder, holds legal documents and funds on behalf of a buyer and seller, and distributes them according to the buyer’s and seller’s instructions. The escrow becomes the depository for all monies, instructions and documents pertaining to the purchase of your home. 

How does the escrow process work? The escrow is a depository for all monies, instructions and documents necessary for the purchase of the home, including funds for the down payment, lender’s funds and documents for the new loan. The duties of an escrow holder include: following the instructions given by the principals and parties to the transaction in a timely manner; handling the funds and/or documents in accordance with instructions; paying all bills as authorized; closing the escrow only when all terms and conditions have been met; and, distributing the funds in accordance with instructions. 

Do I need documentation? Receipt of your deposit is generally included in your copy of your purchase contract. Your funds will then be deposited in your separate escrow or trust account and processed through your local bank.

What information will I have to provide? Typically you will be asked to complete a statement of identity as part of the necessary paperwork. Because many people have the same name, the statement of identity is to identify the specific person in the transaction through such information as date of birth, social security number, etc. This information is kept confidential.

How long is the escrow? The length of an escrow is determined by the terms of the purchase agreement and can range from a few days to several months. Typically an escrow often takes an average time of 30 to 45 days.

When does the escrow process end? The escrow process ends when you actually close on the home, during the closing procedure. This is when all funds are transferred accordingly, when all documents are signed, and when you get the keys to your new coastal home.

Kathy and Michael Rain, REALTORS®
The Rain Team, Coldwell Banker Real Estate
CRS, GRI, SRES, Previews, ASP

Michael DRE#01125976 Kathy DRE#01169588
Email:
TheRainTeam@Coastal-RealEstate.com
Cell Phone: (650) 888-6903
Direct Phone: (650) 712-0411

Home Office: (650) 728-7123
Fax: (866) 396-0207

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Kathy and Michael Rain offer their real estate services for buyers, sellers, investors in the Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Moss Beach, Montara, Pacifica and San Mateo, California area.    

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7 Sanity Savers When Buying a Home in the San Mateo Coastal Market!

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Whether you have experienced challenges with the loan process and its rigorous rules and regulations in searching for your San Mateo Coastal home or are simply anxious about applying for a home in the San Mateo Coastal real estate market because you don’t know where to begin, these sanity saving tips will help you in your home buying adventure!

1. Be expedient and thorough- When initiating a loan, and throughout the loan process, it is imperative to provide complete documentation to your Mortgage Advisor as quickly as possible. For instance, if all pages of the bank statement are requested, it really means all pages. While you and I might not think it’s necessary to include the reconciliation page of the statement, the lenders do. And, when they receive only five of the six pages of said bank statement, the loan process can become inefficient and stalled.

2. Keep detailed financial records- If it is necessary to transfer funds from one account to another or to sell stock for a down payment, keep a detailed paper trail of all transactions, deposits and liquidations. Lenders will request it. 

3. Spill the details- Be sure to notify your Mortgage Advisor of any changes to the purchase transaction. Unidentified last minute changes, such as escrow holdbacks , seller credits or termite work can wreak havoc with closing dates.

4. Keep your day job- Lenders always contact your employer just before the loan funds. If you have left that company (quit, moved to a new company or retired), the lender will stop the loan from funding and recording. 

5. Know the facts- If you are in the process of divorcing, most lenders will not approve or fund a mortgage loan until the final decree (settlement terms) is recorded.

6. Safeguard your social security number- It's a good idea to speakto your Mortgage Advisor before making any significant credit or purchase decisions. Lenders rely on using credit scores to assist in mortgage credit decisions. Incurring new debt during the loan process increases your debt-to-income ratio and could reduce the amount you can borrow. Each credit inquiry - whether you ultimately make a purchase or not lowers your credit score. The same holds true for pre-approved credit card offers that you receive in the mail; responding to them will result in a credit check. 

7. Be available- Be sure to leave a contact phone number with your Mortgage Advisor if you are traveling for business or on vacation. Until all the loan approval conditions are met, you may be required to provide additional documentation or information.

We understand that buying a home is a huge investment! The paper work, hoops to jump through and getting everything you need in order can be a lot to handle. Using these seven tips will help cut down on the stress and will help streamline the process. If you are looking to buy a home on the San Mateo Coast, we can help! We’ve had years of experience and would love to help you find the home of your dreams! There are many great homes in the San Mateo Coastal Area from which to choose. Contact us and we’ll be happy to answer your questions and give you a tour of the homes in the area!

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Make a Home Yours with Affordable Remodeling Tips!

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Many people are buying beautiful San Mateo Coastal homes and remodeling to make it their own. However, remodeling can be costly, but below are a few tips to help keep down expenses and still get the updates you want!

First thing first: create a budget and plan and stick with it. Do a some research on the types of improvements you want and get a feel for both labor and materials costs. Use those numbers to create a basic budget that you know you can comfortably afford and then design a simple plan for making that happen. It will help your contractor understand your vision better and should keep you on track to stay within your spending limits.

  1. Choose contractors wisely. Get at least three bids and check references. There are also online resources, like Angie’s List, that can be used to screen potential contractors. The low bid may not necessarily be the best bid – get your estimates in writing and line them up against your preliminary plan.
  2. Do the demo and prep work yourself. If you have the ability to do some basic demo, such as removing old appliances or fixtures, wallpaper, or popcorn ceilings, you can save money and focus your contractor on specialized skills like carpentry and electrical. Disposing of used materials and trash yourself will also help keep your costs down.
  3. Use recycled materials. It may make sense to use recycled lumber and other materials – even recycled hardware can add a unique touch and may be much less expensive (and greener) than new.
  4. Make selections quickly and stay with them. Time is money to your contractor and any delays you insert into the process by delaying or changing your selections can layer cost on without you even realizing it. Look for the types of materials and the color selections you prefer during your planning phase and don’t change your mind mid-stream.

Updating your home can be a simple, affordable process that can make your home more livable for you and more desirable for resale down the road. If you follow some basic strategies, you are sure to be pleased with the improvements and save money in the process.

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Great Neighborhoods Along the San Mateo Coast

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Buying a home in the San Mateo Coastal area? It may be hard to choose where you want to buy because there are so many wonderful areas here-Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, El Granada, Montara or Moss Beach! It is very important to consider the neighborhood surroundings when making your decision.

Oftentimes homebuyers don’t place as much emphasis on the neighborhood that a home is in, and this is something of which to be very cautious. You may know the basic things to look for when trying to choose a safe neighborhood, but there are a few less obvious things that you want to be on the lookout for when choosing your new home.

Multiple-Use Areas- Sure, it’s great to have a park close by, but is the park secluded or surrounded by a lot of trees? Would you feel okay with sending your kids to the park if it’s not visible by others? Look for places that have multiple-use areas such as a park next to the post office or coffee shop. Below is a list of great park districts in the San Mateo Coastal area!

With parks, beaches and trails to explore; these area parks have much to offer! Visit their links to get more information on the parks in your area!

- Pacifica Parks

- Half Moon Bay Parks

- El Granada Parks

- San Mateo Parks

Well Maintained Land and Buildings- Homeowners or business owners that take pride in keeping up buildings and area land are sending out a non-verbal that the area is cared for and is being watched. Crime is far less prevalent in well maintained areas. 

Unobstructed Lines of Sight- Make sure homes in the area are not hidden by tall shrubs and multiple trees. Places people play or walk should be visible- it’s a way of having an unofficial neighborhood watch in place.

Neighborhood Nightlights- Do the neighbors keep porch lights or driveway lights on at night? This is a great way to detour nighttime theft and break-ins.

Active Streets- When perusing the neighborhood, do you notice people out and about? If you see that others feel safe with walking around the area by themselves or even allowing their children to play outside, it’s a good indicator that it’s a safe and trustworthy neighborhood. 

Real House Fronts- It may seem obvious that all homes have house fronts, but not really. There are those homes that are mostly garage or driveway space in the front. If most of the homes in the neighborhood are like this, it means that most of the activity takes place in backyards and the street goes unwatched.

It’s reassuring to know that there are many great neighborhoods in the San Mateo Coastal area!

If you have further questions about the area neighborhoods or want to find one of the homes along the San Mateo Coast that best suits you- let us know! We’d love to answer your questions and show you around! Hope to hear from you soon!

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Time Saving Tips for a Smooth Move

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Moving can be quite time-consuming, and sometimes even frustrating. However, listed below are some smart moving tips that can help you get organized for a smooth move into your Coastal California home, and to help you save some valuable time in the process!

1. Change your address and notify companies before you move. Start by filling out a change of address form in advance of your move. Doing this ahead of time can help you to avoid hassles like past-due bills, service lapses and even identity theft. It is also a good idea before you move to set dates to discontinue your utilities at your old address as well as arrange for these services to be turned on at your new address.

2. Create a moving schedule. It is a good idea to set up a moving schedule a few months before you move. Set it up as a week-by-week checklist to manage the process and help to stay on track. A moving schedule helps you to keep track of the little details or things that may be over looked, thus helping you to avoid last minute headaches.

3. Establish a packing system. Packing is a major time consumer so think about coming up with a packing system so all of your boxes end up in the right rooms when they get to your new home. Many professional movers recommend that you use the color code system where you color code each box with a particular room to avoid any confusion with the movers. It is also helpful to give your movers a floor plan of your home with each room labeled.

4. Get rid of unnecessary items. The less boxes you pack the less you have to move and finally unpack. So it makes sense to thoroughly go through your items and get rid of the things you just don't need. Items such as unread books, half-empty cleaning products, and clothes that you know you won’t wear again should be given away or sold at a garage sale. You don't want to bring the clutter to your new home!

Buyer Beware: Lenders Need To Know Everything!

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

All funds used for the down payment and closing costs for your new San Mateo home are going to be very carefully scrutinized by the lender:

• You must provide detailed and accurate information to show which accounts the funds are in and where the funds are coming from
• You must document the source of any funds that have been in your accounts for less than 2 months 
• Any changes that occur to your financial condition will need to be explained to the lender 
• Changes to your assets, employment, income or credit scores during the escrow could jeopardize your ability to qualify
• Provide complete documents – all pages! 
• Provide documents with names, addresses and account numbers

Things not to do during an escrow: 
• Do not transfer funds from one bank account to another 
• Do not make unusual large deposits into your bank account – you need to provide documentation for the source of any deposits 
• Do not buy a car just prior to buying a house or during the escrow
• Do not spend large sums of money buying furniture or appliances
• Do not change jobs
• Do not apply for new credit cards 
• Do not close existing credit cards

The lender is going to require a letter of explanation and/or support documentation for:
• Recent inquiries on your credit report
• Derogatory items on your credit report
• Recent deposits into your bank accounts
• Recent transfers of money from one account to another
• Evidence earnest money deposit has cleared your account 

If you are receiving Gift Funds the lender will require:
• A gift letter signed by you and the gift donor
• Evidence of the donors ability to gift the funds – a bank statement 
• Evidence of the receipt of the gift funds – a copy of the check or the wire
• Evidence of the funds being received into your account

If you have a question about a possible action – check with your loan officer before you do it!

By: Susan O'Driscoll of Princeton Capital

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Moving With Pets

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

We know you are very excited to move into your new San Mateo home, as you should be, but don’t forget about your pets’ needs in that excitement! Below are some tips to help you get organized and make your move a calm transition for the furry members of your family.

  • As part of your moving plan, appoint one person in the family that will be in charge of the pet. This will eliminate any confusion as to who has responsibility and will help for a smoother move.
  • Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian a few weeks before your move for a check up. Be sure to attain your pet's veterinary records so that they can be forwarded to your new veterinarian. Make sure you obtain any needed permits or registrations too.
  • Prep your new home for pets. Pets may be frightened and confused in new surroundings. Choose a room that you can set up for them with all their familiar items such as toys, foods, bedding, etc. Pack these items in a handy spot so they can be unpacked right away.
  • If you are moving your pets by car, be sure to plan for several stops along the way. Pets may find car travel extremely distressing and stopping for fresh air and breaks can help. Don't forget any medications your pet might need as well as a leash.
  • If you are traveling long distance and plan on staying overnight at a hotel, be sure to call in advance to make sure that pets are accepted.
  • If your pets are not micro-chipped be sure to get a new pet ID tag with your new address and contact phone numbers and if they are micro-chipped be sure to update the info with your microchip company.

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Top Ten Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Some people question whether they should use a real estate agent or try to find a home to purchase on their own. Here are ten reasons why it is a good idea to enlist the help of an experienced, knowledgeable real estate agent when you are looking to buy your new San Mateo Coastal home.

1 -- Experience Purchasing a new home may well be the largest expenditure that you ever make. So it simply makes good business sense to enlist all the help you can get. A seasoned real estate agent has completed more real estate transactions already this year than you'll likely make in your lifetime. That adds up to a whole lot of knowledge and experience. Experience that can help navigate you safely and securely through every aspect of the buying process.

2 -- Knows the Market A real estate agent will know what's happening in a particular area, or neighborhood, and help you decide if a home you find is a good value. Once you find a property that interests you, your agent will show you "comps" (comparable properties) of similar homes that have sold recently, as well as those that are currently on the market. And if your real estate agent works with an established firm, he or she will have instant access to a host of proprietary tools -- and property information -- that may be difficult, or even impossible, to find on your own. All this information will help you make a well-informed decision. 

3 -- Saves Time A good real estate agent is an organizational genius. He or she will manage to get you in to see new properties as soon as they become available -- and arrange the most appointments possible within your available time slots, no matter how limited. But remember, accessibility is a two-way street! Be sure to support your agent by being as flexible as possible -- especially when your time is very limited.

4 -- Good Listener If you decide to use a real estate agent, look for someone who asks as many questions as you do. When you mention a price range, does the agent give you a 'standard' list of available properties, or is he or she able to make -- or adjust -- his or her recommendations based on what comes up in your conversations? How interested is the agent in listening to your point of view? How many questions does he or she ask? After all, your real estate agent's recommendations should vary substantially based on your personal needs and goals (for example, you may be starting a family, need to configure your new home to accommodate an office, need space for your son's new car, or be downsizing).

5 -- Tells the Truth (even when you don't want to hear it!) Expect that a good real estate agent will challenge you once in a while, ask the tough questions, and yes, even disagree with you occasionally. When he or she makes a recommendation that seems off-base, give your agent the opportunity to give you the facts -- and share his or her knowledge and experience -- before making a decision. Learn to trust your agent's intuition, insights, and perspectives; they'll often lead you in the right direction.

6 -- Respects Your Budget One of the most important things that your real estate agent will do is help you determine how much you can afford to spend. He or she may well ask you to consult with your accountant, financial planner, and/or mortgage broker before you make this important decision. In some markets, there's a lot more to purchasing an apartment than having cash for the down payment, and securing financing. For example, most Manhattan cooperative buildings ('co-ops'), which account for about 75 percent of the properties in the city, will also look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), and your post-closing liquidity (yes, it can be a bit complicated!). A good real estate agent will understand the particulars of your market, and help you find a terrific housing solution that you'll be able to qualify for financially -- and that will be possible within your budget. 

7 -- Team Player Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a great team of professionals to support your purchase -- from mortgage brokers and appraisers, to contractors and designers and real estate attorneys.

8 -- Getting to Closing Remember that finding the right property is only the beginning. Be sure your real estate agent is well prepared to negotiate aggressively on your behalf, and assist you in finding financing, if necessary. Your agent should be ready to follow through with your bank or mortgage broker, any other agents involved in the deal, and with your real estate attorney, until the purchase is complete.

9 -- Gives Timely Updates Throughout the buying process, stay in touch with your real estate agent regularly. He or she should give you regular updates on new properties, any changes in the local real estate market, mortgage rate changes, and so on. And you should update your real estate agent right away should any of your priorities change, or if your research turns up a property you may be interested in seeing. The result of working together closely? Finding just the home you're looking for, more quickly.

10 -- The Relationship Don't underestimate the importance of personality when you choose your real estate agent. You'll be spending a lot of time with them -- and entrusting them with one of the most important transactions of your life. So be sure to find someone you not only trust and respect, but also look forward to working with. 

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How to Avoid Common Staging Mistakes

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Home staging is a great way to help sell your San Mateo Coastal home more quickly because it helps your home become more appealing to a wider range of possible buyers. Your goal is to impress these possible buyers, so you want your home to look neat, well maintained, spacious, and ready to move in. Below are some of the top mistakes sellers make that you want to avoid when you are preparing your house for the market:

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. You don't have to go it alone, get advice from others on what looks neat and organized. Get your realtor’s advice; or if selling on your own, have a trusted third party walk the home with you and point out areas that look cluttered or cramped.
  • There is no need to make extensive renovations or replace all the furniture. Keep things simple and your investments small. Updates to paint, replacing light fixtures or changing out pillows or bedcovers can all go a long way to giving your home an updated look without major expense.
  • Leave out personal items and knick-knacks. Be sure to remove family photos, school projects and other personal items that might make it hard for a new family to envision themselves living in the space.
  • If you need some inspiration, visit a few model homes for sale for ideas on attractive staging ideas for open spaces. Open up heavy curtains with tie backs and make sure that your furniture isn’t in the way of creating bright open spaces. If you need to take some things out, try temporary storage.
  • Avoid painting with dark or intense colors. Keep your wall and flooring colors to neutral, adaptable tones. Even if bright or varied color palettes are trendy, they are too much for most prospective buyers.
  • Avoid over-staging with accessories. Over the top accessories, including flowers, scents, and home décor items not only make it look like you are trying too hard, they can detract from the real form and functionality of your house.

Keeping it simple is the key to getting results from staging your home. Clean, uncluttered and neutral surroundings show off the possibilities of your home to your potential buyers.

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Be Financially Prepared On Closing Day

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

The process of purchasing a home along the San Mateo Coast can be overwhelming if you are not familiar with the steps and costs involved in this life changing transaction. Many buyers and sellers are especially unfamiliar with what it is involved when it comes to closing costs.

If you are aware of these specific costs and budget for them, they won’t surprise you on closing day and cause you financial stress. Below is a guide to some of the more standard costs that you may be faced with on closing day.

  • Loan Origination Fee or Points: These are the fees charged by the lender for generating your loan.
  • Broker Fee: These fees are occasionally combined into the Loan Origination Fee.
  • Credit Report: Lenders may require this fee up front to obtain and review your credit history. (Approx. $21 - $60)
  • Appraisal Fee: This fee is normally non-refundable and will vary depending on the value of the home.
  • Inspection Fee: Fees paid to have a Certified Home Inspector evaluate the structural and mechanical condition of the home.
  • Title Search: This search will provide verification that the seller owns the house you are buying.
  • Title Insurance: This fee insures against losses as a result of any title defects.
  • Prepaid Interest: To pay up the mortgage interest to the first of the following month.
  • Mortgage Insurance: Insurance to protect the lender in the event that the borrower (mortgager) is unable to repay the loan.

These are some of the most common costs involved with closing. Once you have applied for your loan, the lender will provide you with a Good Faith Estimate of what they anticipate the closing costs to be. Be sure to do your homework and ask extensive questions about these items and your closing on your new California coastal home will go much smoother on closing day.

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Photo of The Rain Team Real Estate
The Rain Team
CA# 01169588 | CA# 01125976 | CA# 01908304
248 Main Street, Suite 200
Half Moon Bay CA 94019
Michael: 650-888-6361
Kathy: 650-888-6903
Fax: 866-396-0207

Kathy and Michael Rain of Coldwell Banker provides real estate services in the San Mateo County, California area including the surrounding communities: El Granda, Half Moon Bay, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica and San Mateo. Search for homes in San Mateo County. We list and sell residential real estate, investment properties, vacant land, lots for sale in the San Mateo County, California area.

Licensed in the State of California

Kathy Rain - CA BRE# 01169588 | Michael Rain - CA BRE# 01125976 | Coldwell Banker - CA BRE# 01908304  

Email: therainteam@coastal-realestate.com
Cell Phone: (650) 888-6903 * Direct Phone: (650) 712-0411
San Mateo County Real Estate and Homes for Sale

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