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Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

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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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How Your Credit Score Affects Your Home Buying Experience

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

San Mateo home buyers who are seeking a mortgage find out early-on that their credit score plays an important part in the home buying process and in determining the interest rate that a lender offers. If you are first time home buyer some of this information may be overwhelming. Your realtor can walk you through the process and the information below can make you a more informed buyer.

What is a credit score? A credit score is a number that lenders use to estimate risk. Experience has shown them that borrowers with higher credit scores are less likely to default on a loan. 

How are credit scores calculated? Credit scores are generated by plugging the data from your credit report into software that analyzes it and cranks out a number. The three major credit reporting agencies don't necessarily use the same scoring software, so don't be surprised if you discover that the credit scores they generate for you are different. 

Why are credit scores sometimes called FICO scores? The software used to calculate a great number of credit scores was created by Fair Isaac Corporation--FICO. 

Which parts of a credit history are most important? The pie chart above right shows a breakdown of the approximate value that each aspect of your credit report adds to a credit score calculation. Use these percentages as a guide: 35% - Your Payment History 30% - Amounts You Owe 15% - Length of Your Credit History 10% - Types of Credit Used 10% - New Credit

Your Payment History Includes:

  • Number of accounts paid as agreed
  • Negative public records or collections
  • Delinquent accounts:
    1. total number of past due items
    2. how long you've been past due
    3. how long it's been since you had a past due payment

  What you Owe:

  • How much you owe on accounts and the types of accounts with balances
  • How much of your revolving credit lines you've used--looking for indications you are over-extended
  • Amounts you owe on installment loan accounts vs. their original balances--to make sure you are you paying them down consistently
  • Number of zero balance accounts

Length of Credit History:

  • Total length of time tracked by your credit report
  • Length of time since accounts were opened
  • Time that's passed since the last activity
  • The longer your (good) history, the better your scores

Types of Credit:

  • Total number of accounts and types of accounts (installment, revolving, mortgage, etc.)
  • A mixture of account types usually generates better scores than reports with only numerous revolving accounts (credit cards)

Your New Credit:

  • Number of accounts you've recently opened and the proportion of new accounts to total accounts
  • Number of recent credit inquiries
  • The time that's passed since recent inquiries or newly-opened accounts
  • If you've re-established a positive credit history after encountering payment problems
  • In general, checking to make sure you aren't attempting to open numerous new accounts

Credit scoring software only considers items on your credit report. Lenders typically look at other factors that aren't included in the report, such as income, employment history and the type of credit you are seeking.

What's a Good Credit Score?

Credit scores (usually) range from 340 to 850. The higher your score, the less risk a lender believes you will be. As your score climbs, the interest rate you are offered will probably decline.

  • Borrowers with a credit score over 700 are typically offered more financing options and better interest rates, but don't be discouraged if your scores are lower, because there's a mortgage product for nearly everyone.

Buying a home is a great investment and you want to have as much information as you can when making that decision for your family. Your realtor will be your best resource for questions about the entire process, and keep the above information in mind when deciding to buy a home!

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Know What is Your San Mateo Home Is Worth?

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Ever wonder what your San Mateo home is worth in today's market? A trend across the Real Estate board is downsizing. Many people are re-evaluating their current living situation and wondering if a smaller, more affordable home would be a better choice. There are many things to take into consideration when approaching the decision to sell. Price is a large proponent of selling and there are ways to determine a reasonable selling price for your home. -

Solds: Research homes that have recently sold in your area that are similar to yours. Seeing what other properties are selling for will give you a good idea of your homes’ value. - 

Expireds: Many listings are put on the market at the top asking price or even overpriced. You will see that these homes will sit on the market and will eventually expire as there are not buyers willing to pay the asking price. Looking at these listings will give you an idea of what buyers are willing or not willing to spend. - 

Currents: How does your property compare with current homes on the market? It’s a buyers market so they, in effect, determine the value of your home. - 

Value Boosters: These include any maintenance or improvements that will boost the value of your home. Keep an open mind to change as buyers preferences may not be your preferences. These changes to your home can change a buyers' mind. 

As there are many factors that play into a home’s value, determining what your home is worth can be tricky. If you are starting to look into selling your home and have questions, we’d love to help! We can give you the most up to date information on the San Mateo Coast market and will assist you from the beginning to the end of the home selling process. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Have a Successful Open House!

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

If you’ve been thinking of selling your home in any of the coastal towns of Moss Beach, Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Pacifica or Montara, having an open house is a great way to get buyers in your house!

As San Mateo Coastal Real Estate agents; we understand the importance of hosting a great open house. Buyers want to see the ins and outs of your home and there are six key ways to help your home have a successful open house! 

1. Make it Generic- While it’s great to make your home personal, your pictures, children’s art or your to do list on the refrigerator can be a large distraction to potential buyers. They need to be able to envision themselves in your home, so putting away those personal items will help buyers picture their life in your coastal home.

2. Clear Counters- Look at your kitchen or bathroom counters from a outsiders viewpoint. Do you have too many appliances cluttering your kitchen counter? Clearing this space will make their appear to be more room for cooking or their own storage. If your bathroom counters are filled with perfumes, toothbrush holders, etc… take time to put them in cabinets or drawers so buyers can see the actual size of the space.

3. Set the Table- This may not seem necessary, but having your dining room table set with nice place settings add a touch of class and can help the San Mateo Coastal buyer envision hosting their own dinner parties. 

4. First Impressions- Believe it or not, a nice doormat or attractive porch can really set the tone for the entire open house. If there’s an old doormat , chipped paint or nothing special about the entrance to your home, buyers may feel that you don’t really care. A welcoming setting from the start will instantly let buyers know that your home is well-maintained and that each area of your home is cared for. 

5. Get to the Heart- The best way to appeal to the buyers’ heart is through offering something special when they walk in the door. Whether you bake fresh cookies, have hot chocolate or coffee in the cooler months, or have lemonade for them on your counter as it starts to get warmer; these added touches will set your home apart.

6. Don’t Stick Around- While it may be tempting to want to hear what the potential buyers have to say, it can be awkward when the seller is present. They will feel that they can’t openly express their thoughts to the agent and will not feel as comfortable when looking throughout the home. Even if you take a walk through the neighborhood, being away from the home during an open house can make all the difference. 

Hosting an open house can seem like a nerve-wracking process, but it’s the best way to get your home sold. By taking note of these tips; you’ll be well on your way! If you have questions about selling your San Mateo Coastal home; please let us know! You’ll want someone who knows the area, has experience in selling homes on the coast and can be with you every step of the way. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have or to learn how we can help sell your home!

Donate to San Mateo Local Charities

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

There are many great local San Mateo charities and donation centers that could use your help this holiday season! This would be a great time to clean our your homes and donate unneeded items to a good cause. Here is a list of a few reputable charities that would appreciate your donations:


Assistance League of San Mateo County Turnstyle Thrift Shop  
LOCATION: 60 North B Street @ Baldwin Avenue San Mateo, CA 94401 
PHONE: (650) 342-2367 
HOURS: Tuesday - Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm 

Funds from resale are used to purchase new clothing, uniforms and books for underprivileged elementary school children; new books for family literacy programs; new clothing for sexual assault victims at San Mateo County General Hospital; and to fund a coordinator for a home visit program for the elderly in San Mateo County. 

NEED: Clothing & accessories, housewares, small furniture items, books, jewelry, collectibles, toys, small appliances, small furniture pieces, portable color televisions and decorative items for the home. 

DO NOT NEED: Large furniture or appliances, computers, videos or record players. 

Episcopal Church of Saint Matthew Service League Thrift Shop 
LOCATION: Corner of Baldwin Avenue & El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94401 PHONE: (650) 344-0921 
HOURS: Thursday - Saturday 10:00am - 2:00pm 

Funds from resale are donated to a variety of San Mateo County charities. 

NEED: Clothing & accessories, housewares, books, jewelry, collectibles, toys, small appliances, small furniture pieces and decorative items for the home. 

DO NOT NEED: Large furniture, appliances, computers, TVs or stereos. 

First Step for Families (Shelter Network) 
LOCATION: 325 Villa Terrace San Mateo, CA 94401
PHONE: (650) 340-8814
HOURS: Monday - Friday 8:00am - 4:00pm. 

Please call first. All donated items are provided free of charge to shelter families or are used in shelter facilities.

NEED: Household appliances, bedroom and bathroom linens, brooms, dustpans, cleaning supplies, kitchenware and utensils, lamps, televisions, clock radios, strollers, highchairs, school supplies, sports equipment, books and games for teenagers, educational toys, Halloween costumes, unused toiletries and computer games for Windows-based PCs. 

Friends of the San Mateo Public Library San Mateo Public Library, Main Branch LOCATION: 55 West Third Avenue @ El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94403 PHONE: (650) 373-4802 (Administration)
HOURS: Mon - Thu 10:00am - 9:00pm, Fri - Sat 10:00am - 5:00pm; Sun 1:00pm - 5:00pm 

The San Mateo Public Library Foundation uses funds from resale to purchase new books and support adult literacy programs and children's library services. 

NEED: New & used books; CDs and videos (in perfect condition). 

DO NOT NEED: Textbooks, Reader's Digest condensed books, National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines.

Goodwill Industries Thrift Store 
LOCATION: 28 West 25th Avenue @ El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94403
PHONE: (650) 525-2780 

Use this opportunity to show your family how it truly is better for the soul to give than to receive by donating to these San Mateo charities.

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Getting a Loan When You Are Self Employed

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

The San Mateo Coast community has a spirit of entrepreneurship which helps define our culture. For many, owning their own business and being their own boss sounds like a dream come true. However, if you are self employed you most likely know that owning your own business can be stressful and overwhelming at times. 

But while being a business owner is a great deal of work, it is part of the American dream. The downside is that if you are in the market to purchase a new home in San Mateo and are planning on applying for a loan based on your self-employment income, you may be faced with some challenges you weren't expecting.

Unfortunately the current economic situation has forced many lenders to tighten their requirements and that may make getting a loan more difficult than in past years for self employed home buyers. Here's the score on what today's lenders are looking for. 

1. Forget about a 'stated income' mortgage - you are going to need tax documents, bank records and at least a two year history of business stability for a lender to even consider your application. Even if you are just branching out in the same kind of business that you have done for years, expect tight requirements and nearly perfect credit to move forward with qualifying.

2. Do your homework - research the banks or mortgage lenders you want to approach and find out exactly what paperwork and documentation they require to process a loan for a self-employed borrower. Spend time putting your documents together carefully and thoroughly in advance of your application.

3.. Look for lenders who have a track record of accepting self-employed borrowers and try to meet with them in person to review your paperwork and find the right kind of loan package for your needs and situation. 

4. Take a break from write-offs for a couple of years - those tax deductions help with your disposable income, but they also take down your gross income level. Lenders want to see a good debt-to-income ratio,not how clever you are about expensing your income away. Direct any questions about how to manage your expenses and write-offs to your CPA. 

5. Stay liquid - build your bank account so that lenders can see your ability to make payments even if you have seasonal or other fluctuations in your income levels month to month or year to year. A solid savings plan and liquid assets can be helpful in getting your application approved. 

Finally, if you have a strong co-signer, one with great finances and a steady income, you may be able to overcome your lender's concerns and hesitation when it comes to considering the source and level of your personal income. Are you self employed and have more questions? Contact me for more information, I would be happy to help! **

Uses and Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

The Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees up to a quarter of a qualified borrower’s mortgage. That guarantee is what spurs VA-approved lenders to provide loans with competitive terms and interest rates to military buyers. VA Loan Uses Qualified borrowers can use a VA loan to purchase, refinance and in some cases construct a home. They can also use the loan to buy and repair a home at the same time. Other acceptable VA home loan uses include:

• To refinance an existing VA-guaranteed or direct loan
• To buy a single-family residential unit in a VA-approved condominium
• To buy a farm residence that is owned and occupied by the veteran However, these loans do come with limitations. Veterans and active-duty military cannot use a VA loan to purchase land, investment properties or a home that will not be the owners primary residence. Benefits of VA Loans Due to the nature of the military lifestyle, constant moving from station to station and deploying overseas can cause a service member to struggle when building a strong financial profile. Good thing the VA loan specifically caters to these needs. VA home loans have the amazing benefit of not requiring a down payment. Some scrutinize this, declaring it can cause a person to bite off more than they can chew; however, the VA home loan program also has one of the lowest foreclosure rates of any lending program. The majority of counties across the nation have an ample loan limit of $417,000 (this limit can eclipse $1 million in certain high cost counties) which means service members can purchase the home of their dreams without putting a single dollar down. Over 80 percent of veterans who have taken advantage of this great program say this is the number one benefit. Not only can a veteran receive a high limit loan without putting anything down, but also they will not have to pay any private monthly mortgage insurance. Some other major benefits include:

• Less stringent credit requirements
No pre-payment penalties • Higher allowable debt-to-income ratios than conventional loans In the last post, we’ll take a look at VA loan eligibility and the loan limits placed on this program. Kevin Pearia is a mortgage commentator for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated provider of VA home loans.

FHA Extends Waiver of Anti-Flipping Regulations Through 2012

by The Rain Team

The home market has been up and down for years in not only San Mateo but the entire county.In an effort to stabalize home values and improve conditions in communities with high foclosure rates, the FHA has extended anti-flipping regulations. The Acting Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Carol J. Galante will extend FHA’s temporary waiver of the anti-flipping regulations. You can visit the FHA homepage here for all the ifne print and additional information. With certain exceptions, FHA regulations prohibit insuring a mortgage on a home owned by the seller for less than 90 days. In 2010, FHA temporarily waived this regulation through January 31, 2011, and later extended that waiver through the remainder of 2011. The new extension will permit buyers to continue to use FHA-insured financing to purchase HUD-owned properties, bank-owned properties, or properties resold through private sales. It will allow homes to resell as quickly as possible, helping to stabilize real estate prices and to revitalize neighborhoods and communities. The extension is effective through December 31, 2012, unless otherwise extended or withdrawn by FHA. All other terms of the existing Waiver will remain the same. The Waiver contains strict conditions and guidelines to prevent the predatory practice of property flipping, in which properties are quickly resold at inflated prices to unsuspecting borrowers. The Waiver continues to be limited to sales meeting the following conditions: *All transactions must be arms-length, with no identity of interest between the buyer and seller or other parties participating in the sales transaction. * In cases in which the sales price of the property is 20 percent or more above the seller’s acquisition cost, the Waiver will only apply if the lender meets specific conditions and documents the justification for the increase in value. * The Waiver is limited to forward mortgages, and does not apply to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchase program. Contact us if you have any questions about the anti-flipping regulations!

VA Loans: Eligibility and Financing

by The Rain Team

On average, VA loans are typically easier to qualify for than a conventional lending program. The program still provides significant financial benefits despite the fact that only a fraction of our nation’s veterans and service members have taken advantage of their benefits. What is even worse, is according to a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 20 percent of veterans don’t even know the program exists.

 

  • Qualifying for a VA loan VA loans are fairly easy to qualify for. Prospective buyers must have only: Served 181 days on active duty during peacetime or 90 days during wartime Served six years in the National Guard or Reserves Be the spouse of a fallen service member who died due to a service related injury.

Those who fall into one of those categories must take the next step of filling out a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE. This official VA document proves you are able to participate in the program and have met the service requirements. Applicants can obtain these through the VA directly or through an approved VA lender. VA officials must look over the Certificate of Eligibility and ultimately determine whether a prospective borrower can participate. The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t give explicit income or credit standards to qualify for the program, since the VA doesn’t issue the loan. Income and credit standards are given by VA-approved lenders, which generally require a minimum score of 620 to qualify. Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (IRRRL) The VA’s IRRRL, or streamline refinance, gives current VA home loan holders the opportunity to take advantage of the market’s low interest rates. Prospective borrowers should remember that for this to be worth their while, they should make sure the new interest rate is lower than the current rate and that you can’t refinance a FHA or conventional loan through the IRRRL. This program isn’t for everyone, but for those looking to lower their current interest rate, it is a great option. For more information on the VA home loan program and the VA’s IRRRL, contact a VA-approved lender like Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated provider of VA home loans. Kevin Pearia is a mortgage commentator for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated provider of VA home loans. **

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by The Rain Team

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall further than they have already. They are assuming that the best course of action is to wait for the bottom in the market and then buy. The problem with this approach is that you don't know where the bottom is until you see it in the rear view mirror, meaning until you've missed it!

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have gone up in the last six months, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, if home prices come down a little further but interest rates up, it could cost you even more to service a mortgage on an identical home!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates and low home prices, rather than to hope for a further break in prices in the future.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

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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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