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Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

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Sanity Saving Loan Process Tips for the San Mateo Coastal Area!

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

With the right real estate professional, you can save your sanity through the loan process. You may have experienced some level of stress in buying your San Mateo Coastal home due to the very rigorous rules and regulations. Or you may be looking into the San Mateo Coastal real estate market and are uneasy about applying for a loan because you don’t quite know where to start!

New regulations on loans are sometimes confusing and the process can easily become frustrating, but there’s hope! Andy Block a Loan and Personal Finance Advisor has come up with 7 Tips to Save Your Sanity during the loan approval process. We’ve listed them for you below!

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- Talk to 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!

/kh

Tips For Buying In Pacifica

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

If you are looking to buy a home in Pacifica, then you have found the perfect real estate team! As San Mateo Coastal Realtors for many years, we’ve come to know each of these towns very well and feel that they each have unique characteristics that would draw home buyers to them.

Love the outdoors? Pacifica may be just the place for you! There are many hiking trails that wind through forested canyons and along the coast where you can enjoy ocean views. Pacifica has a rich history and well-loved community spirit that welcomes newcomers in with open arms.

So, how do you know if a Pacifica home is right for you? Here are four great ways to determine your next move!

1. Location, Location, Location- You’ve heard it many times, but the location of your home plays a large role in your quality of life. Is the Pacifica home you’re hoping to buy close enough to your work place or, if not, are you willing to deal with the commute? Another good factor to look at is the school system. Even if you don’t have children, a good school system can come into play when reselling your home. Luckily, Pacifica is home to many great schools!

2. Home Features- Come up with a list of important features you are looking for in your Pacifica home. Of course the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is almost always first on the list, but take into consideration storage space, room for pets, a growing family or need for guest space, and the amount of potential projects versus the home being in move-in condition. 

3. Ask Questions- It’s exciting to take tours through beautiful Pacifica homes, but make sure you are aware of the pros and cons. Feel free to ask your Pacifica Realtor any questions openly. A few good questions would be: How much are property taxes? Which appliances are included and how old are they? Have there been any major repairs to the home and, if so, when were they completed?

4. Scrutinize- Look at the home from an objective perspective. It may be easy to get swept away by the stunning Pacifica views or a few key features, but don’t be afraid to do a thorough inspection of the home. Look in closets and cabinets, take note of the window casings, examine walls and ceilings to note any damage, etc… You’ll feel better making an offer on a home that you feel meets your standards.

We hope these home buying tips are helpful to you. We would love to help you in your home search as our goal is to make the home buying process as stress free as possible! Contact us today to learn more about our team and our ability to help you find your dream home on the beautiful San Mateo Coast! **

Green Homes Attract California Buyers

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

If you are a home seller looking for a way to make your house stand apart from the rest, consider making your home more environmentally friendly.

Home buyers of all income levels are looking for environmentally friendly properties and in this challenging housing market of today, sellers are looking for new ways to attract buyers. Making a home greener with cleaner air quality may just be the answer to getting more interest.

Below are a few steps homeowners can use to make their home more environmentally friendly:

 Buy Applicances that use less water and electricity. Many companies sell appliances like washing machines and dishwashers which use 10-15% less energy and water than standard models. Not only are the appliances using less, but they save money when it comes to the electricity and water bills.

 Use Environmentally Friendly Flooring. A wood floor produced without VOC's (volatile organic compounds) keeps the air clean in the house. Cork flooring helps maintain a constant air temperature in the room thanks to it's natural thermal insulation properties and is a renewable resource. This is because only the cork bark is trimmed from the tree and the cork oak trees continue living. In addition, cork has a waxy substance called suberin, which repels bugs, mold, mites and even termites, keeping allergens at bay.

Change Lights with Energy Efficient Models. According to the U.S. Department of Energy ENERGY STAR program, if every American home replaced it's five most frequently used lights, such as kitchen, outdoor post lamps, living room table lamps etc. with fixtures that have earned the ENERGY STAR, almost $8 billion would be saved each year in energy costs and greenhouse gasses reduced at the rate of almost 10 million.

Remember, money and time isn't the only things you are saving! You can feel good about these changes not just because it will give you the edge of selling your home, but because you are doing your part to save the Earth!

If you interested in learning more about creating a "green' home and it's impact on potential buyers, contact us today and see how we can help you! **

Devil's Slide Tunnel - Progress Is Being Made

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Michael Cabanatuan, a staff writer, of the San Francisco Chronicle updated the community on the progress being made with the Devil's Slide Tunnel.  

We are very excited to hear of the progress being made and look forward to seeing it completed in the  near future.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/31/MN7D1N14EA.DTL#ixzz1lR48n7Kw

 

Insurance Trends in San Mateo

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Realtors and home experts will tell you that Homeowner’s Insurance in San Mateo has continued to rise in recent years to the point in which homeowners are getting very concerned. The concerns are not only the raising rates, but also some new home buyers are facing challenges in finding companies to cover their property to begin with.

Sadly, existing homeowners are also seeing policies cancelled after years of rate increases. So why the sudden increase in property insurance and denials? Buyer beware: Chinese drywall and other inferior materials.

Recently, Consumer Reports has highlighted an issue with faulty Chinese drywall. Bought cheaply, thousands of complaints are stating that the product is not only inferior and likely to fall apart. More serious than that, it is actually a health hazard. Though not widespread, it presents enough of a trend that insurers are covering their bases by excluding it from coverage or raising rates as a preventative measure against possible claims. 

Location, location, location – and if your dream home is on a coastal waterway in Montara, be prepared to pay more for your homeowners insurance. What’s more, insurance companies are requiring separate deductibles for coastal property – primary insurance and secondary wind, water or specifically hurricane risk.

If you file often, be prepared to go without; frequent claims cause insurers to cancel or not renew. Lower home prices in Half Moon Bay are also driving rates up and replacement or rebuilding coverage down. Even if the value of your home falls, you still need to shop around for the best price on covering your home in the event of a disaster. Also make sure you have adequate coverage in the event a disaster does occur.

Another factor that can drive rates up on homeowner’s insurance is bad credit scores. If you have a bad credit score, you are considered to be a high risk for responsible behavior and or may have a financial struggle in your future. The high unemployment rates and prices of homes falling, causing poor credit to drive up the rates across insurance plans.

If you aren’t quite sure you understand your current homeowners policy and the coverage you are paying for, be sure to speak to your agent and be sure to shop around. Comparing companies and coverage could pay off in the end. Contact me if you have any questions! **

Now is the Time to Buy in the San Mateo Coastal Area!

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

If you’re considering buying a home in the San Mateo Coastal area; now is the time! The San Mateo Real Estate market is seeing steady sales activity along with new inventory on the rise.

Coastal area buyers can benefit greatly from the choices of beautiful homes that are on the market! Homes prices are still at an all time low across the nation as well as the San Mateo Coast along with historic lows on interest and mortgage rates. If you’ve been debating on whether or not to buy; these are just a few of the many reasons why now is a great time to start your home search on the San Mateo Coast!

Whenever you’re buying a home, there are some things to keep in mind. Below is a to do list will help you in finding your ideal home amongst those that are available along the San Mateo Coastal cities of Moss Beach, Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Montara and Pacifica.

1. Do research the neighborhood- Look at the house, but also look at the neighborhood. Location is the most important thing, so it's critical to look at more than the home itself. Be sure to make a list of the things you’re looking for in a San Mateo Coastal neighborhood in order to find an environment that fits your style. 

2. Do look at several houses before you buy- If you buy a home without comparing it to other listings in the San Mateo area, you're likely to overpay or miss out on a great nearby home. Walk through at least three homes before you choose. If you still love the first one you saw, make an offer!

3. Do invest in a professional inspection- Sellers don't always disclose everything that’s wrong with their home to potential buyers, or they might have done a band-aid job to cover up issues after the sale. Many potential problems, like plumbing and wiring trouble, are not visible at a glance. Home inspectors know what to look for and can do a thorough job so you’re sure to know exactly the type of home you’re buying- which can save you from unwanted surprises down the road. 

4. Do buy based on needs, not wants- The average Americas lives in the same home for about 9 years, so it's crucial that you think about your long-term needs when buying a home. A smaller home with a gourmet kitchen may grab your attention today, but will you still be enamored down the road when your family starts to grow? Make a list of your needs and stick to it to avoid buyer's remorse in the long run.

We know a buying a home can seem like an overwhelming experience, but keeping these tips in mind can help you narrow down your search and stay focused. San Mateo Coastal sellers may be more willing to work with you on the price and closing date if they know you’re serious about buying their home.

If you have any questions about the current San Mateo Coastal Real Estate market or are ready to start looking at homes on the San Mateo Coast, please let us know! We’d be happy to help you find your new home! **

What is the VA Home Loan Program?

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

The VA Loan Guaranty program was created over 65 years ago to honor the service members returning from World War II. Since then, the program has serviced over 20 million active-duty and veterans, providing them with flexible, low-cost lending. Service members have long had a history of constant moves and deployments, which tends to have a negative effect on one’s finances.

That transient lifestyle can take a toll on a service member’s ability to plan for and build toward the future, including providing the high down payment required by most conventional loan programs. This is the main reason why the VA loan program has proved to be so crucial for the last 66 years.

VA loans come with a guarantee from the U.S. government. In short, the VA agrees to repay up to a fourth of a borrower’s mortgage if he or she defaults on their loan. That guarantee gives a greater degree of confidence to lenders, which, in turn can offer qualified borrowers competitive interest rates and flexible loan terms.

In fact, the VA Home Loan program is one of the few remaining zero money down mortgage options available. Veterans and active duty across the nation see not having to place a down payment as one of the greatest benefits, and without it, they would not have been able to acquire proper housing.

Interest in VA loans is surging across the country. Amid a tight credit environment and a rollercoaster of a housing market, service members are turning to the safety of these government-backed loans in record numbers. In the past year, a surge in VA home loan refinance has been responsible for the VA Loan program guaranteeing nearly 360,000 single-family loans for the fiscal year ending September 30.

Kevin Pearia is a mortgage commentator for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated provider of VA home loans. **

Is Now a Good Time to Refinance?

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

As interest rates soar to historic lows, several homeowners in San Mateo are making the decision to take advantage of refinancing! If you have been thinking about refinancing your mortgage, there are some things you need to take into consideration before making your final decision.

Although rates are low right now, the present economic crisis has caused a lot of lenders to reduce the amount of loans they give out. This is a drastic change from the last few years when requirements were very loose and almost anyone was eligible for a mortgage.

If you are figuring out how to save on your mortgage refinance, its vital to make sure you do your homework and get your facts right. First, look at your loan-to-value ratio. In a no-cash-out refinancing (where the amount of your new loan doesn't exceed the balance of your existing loan, plus points and closing costs, if applicable), you may be able to borrow as much as 95% of your home's value.

However, if the value of your home has fallen below the amount of your existing mortgage balance, you may not be able to refinance at all. This sadly, has been the case for many homes. But you may be able to proceed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009's Home Affordable Refinance program.

The major advantage of refinancing to a new lower interest rate is that you will save a substantial amount on your monthly mortgage payment. This is of course why most people choose to refinance their mortgage. It is important to keep in mind however that there are going to be costs involved with refinancing such as closing costs, points, and possible appraisal and attorney fees. Do your research and shop around for the best refinancing interest rates.

All banks are not created equal, some banks and financial institutions charge higher rates than others. Normally, the smaller Community Banks and Credit Unions are more consumers oriented and charge lower rates. In addition, when shopping around, look and compare interest rates and points versus no points before you refinance. Look out for embedded points included in the closing costs. Keep in mind, some lenders will include points in the closing cost without necessarily actually quoting these costs as points.

Have questions? As a homeowner it is important you do your research and educate yourself on the refinancing process. It is not a one size fits all and may or may not be the best idea for your situation. Contact me today for help understanding the entire refinancing process. **

Why Buying a Home in San Mateo is Still a Great Investment

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team
Are you on the fence about buying a home in San Mateo County? Don't be hesitant because of the challenging economy, In times of economic uncertainty, the wisdom of buying property remains unchallenged. Ask the 73 million Americans who currently own homes why they made the decision to stop renting. They will describe the personal satisfaction as well as the numerous financial advantages of investing in real estate. That's because the home you purchase is not just a great place to live, but also an outstanding investment!
 
Tax Benefits: For Home Owners Only There are unique tax benefits that apply only to home ownership and which have made it a stand out for decades. Homeowners can deduct 100 percent of their mortgage interest payments and property taxes, as well as profits of up to $250,000 per individual, or $500,000 per couple on the sale of a principle residence which are excluded from tax as capital gains.
 
Building Personal Wealth For most Americans, home ownership is a fundamental first step towards accumulating personal wealth, and is the largest contributing factor to a household's net worth. In 2000, home equity accounted for 44 percent of the nation's total net worth - far more than any other investments, including retirement accounts, stock and mutual fund shares, savings bonds, and other financial accounts.
 
Personal Satisfaction & The Pride Of Ownership Despite all it's financial benefits a home cannot be completely valued in monetary terms. That's because it is so much more than just an investment. Not only is home ownership a stepping stone to a future of financial security, it provides a permanent place to call home and enormous personal satisfaction. It strengthens the nation's people, it's communities and families. It is truly the cornerstone of the American way of life, and the foundation of the American Dream.
 
Still on the fence or have more questions? Contact us today to learn more about how real estate is still the best investment!
 
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How to Sell Your House When Your Neighbor's Home is Distressed

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Your neighbor’s overgrown lawn and boat trailer may have been mildly annoying, but now you are ready to sell your home and their unkept property now poses a real problem. How can you expect to sell your Coastal home when your neighbor’s house looks terrible? Here are a few actions you can take to make your neighborhood a little more presentable: 


Start by communicating with them. You may uncover a problem that you can help to solve. it may be that your neighbor is elderly or ill and unable to do things for themselves. Perhaps you could help out with lawn care or basic maintenance. You might even get other neighbors involved to lend a hand. 

If you have an HOA, you can go to the president or governing committee. Most HOA’s have strict requirements for upkeep, and they take quick action to correct violations. Also contact the city code enforcement. If your neighbors’ grass is knee high and they have a rusted out cars in the front yard, they are probably in code violation. 

Use a fence or landscaping to hide unsightly side or back yards. Some home sellers who are serious may offer to pay to haul off trash or try to work out another option to try to help the situation.

Another property de-valuer, especially in today’s economy, is the foreclosure. While you can’t personally do anything about a foreclosed home in your neighborhood, you should be prepared to take a hit on your home’s appraisal value. Be aware of the home values in your neighborhood and what other sellers are listing their homes for. You may need to consider discounting your home or offering incentives to counteract the foreclosure. 

Foreclosure is so commonplace now that it probably won’t affect people coming to your neighborhood – in fact, it may draw potential buyers. You just have to be ready to compete with the ‘bargain’ a foreclosure may present to your potential buyers.

 Your realtor may have dealt with this before, ask them for their advice if you find yourself in this situation!

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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
Cell Phone: (650) 888-6903 * Direct Phone: (650) 712-0411
San Mateo County Real Estate and Homes for Sale

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