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Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

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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!
 
**

 

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! **

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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

Equal Housing Opportunity