NEW DYNAMICS SPUR HOME OWNERSHIP

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

December 31, 2000

 

In an attempt to react to the changing economies throughout the United States, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are boosting loan limits once again to $275,000, up from $252,700.

Predictions are that an additional 18,500 California families will be able to purchase a home.  The increases more accurately reflect the high cost of housing in California.

The new FHA loan limits will increase from $121,296 up to $132,000; and the new high-cost loan limit will increase to $239,250, up from $219,849.

All of this activity is in response to the high-cost of housing in a robust economy. Ventura County knows all about that.

Cities are beginning to look at options for developing home ownership. The City of Oxnard has initiated a lease to own program whereby a potential buyer can pretend to own their own under a lease program and end up owning it if payments are made on time.

There is still no substitute for a having the ability and the willingness to make payments on time so a good track record will have to be demonstrated before title is transferred.

This is a great way for a community to participate in stabilizing its buying power.

Unfortunately, with prosperity comes the predator who disregards the lines between good business and fast business.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development is cracking down on “predatory lending practices” where buyers are charged excessive fees for loan origination and processing.

REALTORS® are quick to recognize excessive fees being charged to buyers who have little experience in the world of finance. We recommend that buyers counsel with their REALTORS® before selecting a lender to be assured of quality lending practices.

Freddie Mac has also announced that it will begin to buy home mortgages of up to $252,700 with zero down payments.  Another new program is for the self-employed where those who run small business or are self-employed will have less paperwork to document sources of income—all with the idea of moving home ownership to new levels.

REALTORS® believe in home ownership and work hard to protect the elements that make that happen. Consult with a REALTOR® who displays the Blue ®–there is a difference.

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR® . There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Randy McCaslin, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

Home Is Where the Heart Is

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

December 24, 2000

In this time of prosperity in the land, most of us don’t realize that it is still not for everyone.  This time of year finds our shelters filled with many people of all ages.

A shelter in Camarillo houses a young women with two young children who were living in a tent in Steckel Park near Santa Paula.  She managed to obtain a job at a department store but was not able to have the kids in school because she had no address.

It’s hard to imagine that life could be so tough for some. REALTORS® spend a lot of time during the holidays working for families. The efforts range from obtaining gifts and food for homeless people to sponsoring families in shelters and learning centers.

The political beat continues for REALTORS® because the story of a home for everyone is tied directly to our work.

With the new rules throughout the County created by the SOAR initiatives, good minds will have to come to the table.  Already, major employers are looking elsewhere for expansion or relocation due to the high cost of housing.

One wise woman attached to the REALTOR® community noted that soon our County’s greatest export will be babies because there is little home for our own kids to return home and find affordable living space.

The fallout from SOAR has not yet materialized. Cities will have to look hard at inclusionary zoning where portions of all new developments will be targeted to providing  various affordable housing units.

Cities will have to look at building “up” instead of out which creates dense living situations. Planners will have to be creative and councils become students of new ways of looking at housing options.

Apartments on top of retail buildings in commercial districts can provide convenience and affordability. Reconstruction of substandard living units and all parts of towns and cities will open new clean and safe housing opportunities.

Cities will have to look at incentive zoning to entice developers into areas not currently available for housing and balance this against lost jobs and opportunities.

A new partnership has been formed between the Ventura County Economic Development Association and the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® to educate and advocate the wise and industrious use of the land and to lobby for legislation that will keep employers in Ventura County and satisfy the housing needs that already exist.

The task is formidable but the right players have come together to work on problems that need attention today and will become increasingly alarming as time goes on.

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR® . There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Randy McCaslin, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

A Loan Program For Every Buyer

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

December 15, 2000

Home ownership is a topic that goes wide and deep in every town. Fortunately, opportunities have been created whereby more people can qualify for loans.

For those who have not sold a home for a while, it is not unusual for a seller to be asked to pay buyer’s costs.

There are some communities where the strong-assist loan programs are not viable due to the high median prices. However, in communities where the affordable range is lower, it is common for buyers to seek financial assistance from the sellers in completing the loan.

FHA loan programs are most commonly used in the affordable ranges. The rates are a bit higher, but the down payments range between 3 and 5% and there are fees, which the buyer cannot pay.  These are called “non-allowable” costs.

The maximum loan amount for FHA purchases is $219,500. Clearly, this limit is well below the median price range for the County, and opportunities in this range simple do not exist in some communities.

There is a tendency in the marketplace for sellers to resent being asked to pay fees that help their buyer obtain their loan.

The idea behind this assist developed when the Department of Housing became concerned over the amount of fees buyers were being charged by aggressive lenders.

In a good market, sellers can likely find a buyer who does not need assistance with fees. At the same time, it is not uncommon for FHA, VA or CHAFFA buyers to pay premium prices for their home to compensate owners for the additional expense.

It is healthy to remember that these loan programs were designed to open the opportunities of home ownership, which tends to stabilize communities. These buyers are typically purchasing for the first time.

REALTORS® who work with first-time buyers have to work very hard to pull all of the pieces together.  There are likely to be co-signers and that means multiple loan applications and duplicate processing.

These REALTORS® have to be specialists in a variety of loan programs and they have to partner with a loan agent who is equally skilled.  Their work hours are often late into the evenings gathering people for signatures who are not accessible during the day.  Unfortunately, these agents are often criticized for writing offers that require specialized financing and seller-paid costs.

The home has to be in good shape—no torn screens, lead based or peeling paint, no broken windows or uncorrected termite conditions.  These items add up to the clean and safe housing that everyone deserves.

In the final analysis, wide varieties of loan programs create wider opportunities for buyers to enjoy and participate in home ownership.

REALTORS® are dedicated to that cause for in the end, buyers and sellers alike are equally served and enjoy the benefits.

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR®. There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Randy McCaslin, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO ARRIVE AT THE BEST PRICE FOR YOUR HOME 

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

December 10, 2000

Opinions of value are just that. REALTORS® do their best to match seller’s price expectations but can only stretch a listing price so far. The “stretch” takes the science out of pricing but is a part of the negotiation that takes place to arrive a fair market value.

More so in a market like this, a home will sell at the listed price which is likely to be some amount over the last sale.

Pricing a home with too much stretch can backfire if all the conditions are not right—the home has been detailed in every respect, the yard is appealing and the neighbors are doing their part in adding value.

Occasionally an owner will feel that obtaining an appraisal will reveal the “true value” of the home. The appraiser’s job is to present value based on a scientific evaluation of the home itself, the comparable listings and sales based on year built, square footage, number of rooms and condition.

It is not unusual for an appraiser to call a REALTOR® friend or the listing agent to ask for details about a recent sale of a property that has gone into escrow.

The questions will be along the line of condition of the interior, concessions that may have been made such as seller-paid closing costs and a description of the seller’s motivation for selling.

This is where science and market sense part company.  The nuts and bolts of a sale are known only by the real estate community and this is the added value that the homeowners receive when choosing to work with a REALTOR® in pricing their home.

The appraiser uses their great sources of data to value a home for court purposes or estate that may result in intense scrutiny where there is little room for estimates and subjectivity.  The art of appraising is an applied skill that comes from long hours of training and field work.

The real estate community works with many professionals such as these to bring the best of our trade to buyers and sellers. Choosing a real estate professional who wears the blue “R” is your best insurance for top performance and remedy if something goes awry.

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR®. There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Randy McCaslin, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

Where to Take your Grievances

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

December 3, 2000

This information is for the benefit of my fellow REALTORS® who take great pride in what they do every day for America and our neighborhoods.

It is also for the benefit of the “wannabes” who have not fine-tuned their skills but will. It is for those who know the difference between right and wrong and does “it” anyway.

It is particularly for homeowners and homebuyers who are unhappy with real estate agents or REALTORS® and their behaviors or business practices.

This needs to be written because if I don’t, “he” will and he should. His experience, as reported to me this week, is sadly not uncommon. We typically hear about his type of discontent in an unwanted forum in the doctor’s office, the grocery story, the neighborhood fence, at church or in the courts.

Those of us who are REALTORS® at heart want you to know what you can do if one of us acts in an unprofessional manner. Call our Association Office and ask for our Executive, Randy McCaslin or his assistant Kristine Castillo. The phone number is 981.2100.

If you need Spanish speaking assistance, it will be provided.

This well-known man who might have written this column decided to sell his home by listing it with a REALTOR® assistance. This allows the REALTOR® population to enter his home, look at his furniture, see his floors, windows and doors, assess the décor, comment on the pool, the accessories and the artwork.

Those who were welcomed see the house at its best, only because the owner chose to restrict showings to his schedule instead of ours

What happened to him is not the end of the world, but to this family, it gave pause to whether a REALTOR® deserved to be invited in—again, and it will make good dinner conversation.

Here is a reasonably fair description of what the REALTOR® community did to this family.

It was a holiday. A REALTOR® called to preview the property the next day between 10 – 2. With houseguests to entertain, the owner asked if that time could be tightened up.  The time was set at 10:30 am.

At about 11:00, the owner called the REALTOR® to inquire where she was.  “Oh”, she said. “I just drove by. I don’t need to see the house.”  So much for the movie with the family. So much for honoring the family with the home that has been trusted to the REALTOR® community.

Then a REALTOR® who shows the home spots the pool announces that he just hates selling a home with a pool. The owner wondered, “Why is this man in my house?”  “Why does he hate pools”? Will he reduce his fee if he hates pools?”

Then comes the buyer with five kids who have to use the bathroom or the client who has to see the inside of the refrigerator.

Then comes the questions about anyone ever dying in the home; or are the neighbors are from New Hampshire or are the owners are divorcing, or gay, or if pets have ever peed on the carpet.

If we do something that dishonors you, call Randy or Kristine.  We are not the police of good manners, but we are the guardians of your kingdom, large or small, and we are honored every time you allow us to enter your home. If we fail to remember that privilege, we need to be held accountable. And, we are willing. Peers helping peers is a good way to grow a community of pros.

We have created a forum to deal with grievances large and small. Be sure to ask your agent if they are a REALTOR®  before you hire one.

If he or she isn’t, our forum for grievance and professional standards performance is not available to you. Be sure and ask before you engage the services of a real estate agent.  There is a difference.

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR®. There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Bob Seitz, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

BANKRUPTCY – THE SECOND CHANCE

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

November 19, 2000

The financial community has been very kind to would-be homeowners who fell into credit disrepair during the early to mid-90’s. Prior to that time, most were very unforgiving about late payments and foreclosures.

There is something very American about getting a second chance to do it right.  If hard times have fallen on you, there is hope.  While preferred interest rates may not be available to you, reasonable ones are.  With employment ranks bulging at the seams, the likelihood of having at least one good-paying job in the family is high.

There are two immediate things you can do.  Contact a REALTOR® and state your interest in purchasing a home; let the REALTOR® connect you with a mortgage broker or lender who can help you analyze your circumstances

You will also need to demonstrate that the events of the past have changed.  For example, you will have to demonstrate wise spending habits if there had been poor ones; you will need to be on the job for at least a year if you are in a different line of work; two years are better; steadily improved tax returns are a good sign if you are self-employed and there must be no derogatory credit items since the filing of a bankruptcy.

Take a conservative approach in getting back into the housing market.  Despite your income, you have a better chance at getting your loan in the moderate price range than a pricey one.

Better plan on creating a letter of explanation that will help your lender understand your circumstances. Honesty will speak volumes in your request for funds.  Everyone understands the consequences of illness, job loss, and divorce or separation.  There is little sympathy for extravagant spending, although repentance and good behavior will promote a favorable decision on your behalf.

If you find yourself in new circumstances, let a REALTOR® guide you through the process.  Not all agents have subscribed to our code of ethics and there is a difference.  Be sure and ask.

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR®. There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Randy McCaslin, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

New Laws That Shape Our Lives

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

November 12, 2000

 

January 2001 will bring into effect many news laws that will change how we live. Some are more significant than others, but all of them will impact the way we do business and our quality of life.

In 1999 the US Court of Appeals decided that a landlord did not have to rent to unmarried coupes if it would offend your religious beliefs.  (Thomas v. Anchorage Equal Rights Commission).

That court recently withdrew its option, largely on technical grounds leaving open the possibility that it could find its way back into the courts.

In other new laws, SB 1745 requires landlords to notify tenants 60 days before a proposed rent increase of more than ten percent. Current law requires 30 days.  This bill sunsets on January 1, 2006, unless another law extends it.

The Pet Bill AB 860 ensures that all homeowners are entitled to keep a companion pet with them in the home they own ad occupy, including those who own condominiums ad mobile homes.

AB 2239 limits the types of repairs or improvements that management of a mobile home park can require when an owner is selling or transferring their mobile home.  The bill also provides that management may only require repairs or improvements to a mobile home that are based upon a local ordinance or state statue or regulation.

The new graffiti liens bill authorizes local governments to impose liens on the property of all individuals who are convicted of graffiti vandalism.  Current law only imposes liens on the property lf convicted minors or their parent or guardian.

SB 2143 requires that the landlord of a residential dwelling unit must provide each new tenant that occupies a unit with a copy of a notice provided by a registered structural pest control company if a contract for periodic pest control serviced has been executed.

AB 996 specifics that a lender or trustee has satisfied the requirements for returning a mortgage or deed of trust to the owner I a timely manner by sending a copy of the document in recordable form to the county recorder’s officers. The bill also requires the county recorder to record these documents within two business days of receipt.

Making laws is what legislators do and the California Association of REALTORS® is in the middle of any law that affects homeownership or property rights.

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR®. There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Randy McCaslin, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Right Cause Will Achieve the Sales Effect

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

November 5, 2000

 

Planning to sell your home?  Hire an agent who understands the difference between “cause” and “effect”.

“Selling” your home is the “effect” you want when selecting a real estate representative.  After all, the bottom line is that you want your home SOLD.

To achieve that “effect”, however, be certain you hire an individual who is a “cause” of home sales, rather than a seller of homes.  Here’s why.

Many real estate representatives are active in the market.  All are working with their own list of potential buyers.  Constantly on the lookout for homes meeting prospect requirements, those individuals are eager for fresh information about available properties.

Enter the agent who “causes” sales to happen.  This is the one you want working for you. This agent is a specialist at exposing listed properties to all active agents in the local market.  For obvious reasons, the more buyers who hear about your home, the more likely it is to be shown and sold at full-price. They have a plan to cause your home to be sold.

Acting as a catalyst, this agent causes sales to happen by constantly stimulating other agents to show and sell listed homes.  Look for the agent who can both explain this marketing method and has a history of implementing it.  Then, for a prompt sale at a great price, hire that agent to represent you!

It is possible that your preferred REALTOR® may never actually show your home. It is their job to cause it to be sold, not to sell it themselves.

Be sure you speak with a REALTOR® –a real estate agent who wears the “Blue R”.  There is a difference.

Remember the perfect pronouncement of REALTOR®.  “Reel-TUR; Never REE-luh-tur.”

“REALTOR®” is capitalized because it refers to a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR®. There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Randy McCaslin, Association Executive, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT TIME OF YEAR FOR TENANTS AND OWNERS

REALTORS® OUTLOOK

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

October 29, 2000

Homeowners generally labor over whether or not to place their home on the market during the holidays.  The REALTORS® I know plan to work right through the season, so we are available to serve your real estate needs.

Homes often look and smell their best through the months of November and December. Buyers are often taken with the décor, so if timing is important, we encourage you to take advantage of the holiday buying season.

A word for income property owners who handle their own management. Take a moment to send a note to your tenants reminding them that Christmas trees are a fire hazard if left dry with lights on them.  Plenty of water in the tray could prevent a fire.

Remind them to test smoke detectors and that overloads on electrical outlets can put their household in danger.

Another area where tenants can help landlords maintain clean and safe housing is for them to report problems in the unit; particularly the smell of gas, leaky faucets and a furnace that won’t light.

The Gas Company is a wonderful ally for both tenants and landlords. They respond within hours when the smell of gas is reported.  There is no excuse for tenants to be without service or to be in danger.

Homeownership is at an all-time high in America. Reports show that 67.7 of Americans now own their own home. Besides the record national homeownership rate, all-time high rates were set for minorities with 48.2 percent; Hispanics, 46.7 percent; households headed by females, 53.3 percent; households earning less than the median family income, 52.2 percent and married couples younger than 35, 61 percent.

The median price for single-family detached homes in California rose by double-digits for the 10th time in the last twelve-month period.  The median price for a home in California during September 2000 was $248,000, a 13% increase over September 1999.  In Ventura County, the median price is $297,000, which is a 15% increase over 1999.

The dream of homeownership is still alive and the challenge for cities to plan for natural growth rates is huge. The need for continuing dialogue among government entities and community leaders is essential.

 

 

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR®. There is a difference and you can benefit.  For more information, contact Randy McCaslin, Association Executive, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

 

 

 

 

 

Changing of the Guard and New Leadership

Realtor Outlook

Kay Wilson-Bolton

Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® President 2000

October 22, 2000

The California Association of REALTORS® has been working towards this election month of since January because of our commitment to the process and to the importance of every vote.

We have taken our political stance in our state ballot initiatives and we would like to share them with you.  These stances represent the votes of 1200 directors representing 92,000 REALTORS® statewide.

Our deliberations began in Los Angeles in January, went through June in Sacramento and ended in Palm Springs in September.  Proposition 39 was brought back from the June meeting for re-consideration at our September meeting.

We would like to share our points of view with you.  Please keep in mind that not all of our members share the majority viewpoint, we honor that and encourage debate always.

The REALTOR® community takes pride in what we do, and we take very seriously our commitment to protecting property rights. We try to balance that with insuring home ownership for every person who desires to own one.

For those propositions we neither support nor oppose, we conclude they are not real estate related or we remain neutral because we cannot agree on what position to take.

Prop 32: Veterans’ Bond Act of 2000.

Position: SUPPORT.

Summary: This act provides for a bond issue of five hundred million dollars ($500,000,000) to    provide financing for the California veterans’ farm and home purchase program (Cal-Vet).

PROPOSITION 35: Public Works Projects. Use of Private Contractors for Engineering and Architectural Services.

POSITION: SUPPORT

Summary: This proposition provides that in the design, development, and construction of public works projects, state and local governments may choose to contract with private entities for engineering and architectural services.

PROPOSITION 39: School Facilities. 55% Local Vote. Bonds. Taxes. Accountability Requirements.

POSITION:  SUPPORT

Summary: This proposition authorizes the issuance of bonds for repair, construction, or replacement of school facilities if approved by 55% of the applicable jurisdiction’s voters.

New accountability requirements include annual performance and financial audits. Prohibits the use of bonds for salaries or other school operating expenses. Requires that facilities be available to public charter schools. Authorizes property taxes higher than existing 1% limit by 55% vote, rather than two-thirds currently required, as necessary to pay the bonds.

This debate was lively. The common thread among the real estate community is the quality of the schools. The most common first question of anyone exploring a community is “How good are your schools?”

It is generally agreed the school bonds will pass if they are well written and unencumbered with pork barrel projects.  It is also well known that well written bonds can fail but for 2 to 10% of the vote necessary to pass them.

The argument against Prop. 39 is that lowering the threshold for new taxes fails to protect property rights and it creates a burden on property owners.

However, the vast majority of our directors argued that property owners are well served if the schools that serve the community are in top condition.

As the tides change, so do campaigns, candidates and promises.  REALTORS® are here for the long haul. Our Ventura County Coastal Association of  REALTORS® is a wealth of member commitment and involvement. We share our responsibilities and opportunities with REALTOR® members who believe in our common threads and the code of ethics.

There is a difference among licensed real estate agents.  Choose a REALTOR® first. There is a difference.

We have just announced that Randy McCaslin is our new Association Executive. He is a long time REALTOR® in West Ventura County and will be on board on October 23.

Randy competed against a field of 25 other candidates for this position.

Kay Runnion our interim CEO will return to her position as Government Affairs Directors.  To Kay, we say “Welcome back”.

To Randy McCaslin, we say, “Welcome home.”

    Kay Wilson-Bolton is president of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS®. For more information contact Randy McCaslin, Association Executive, at 805.981.2100.  The website is http://www.vc-realtors.com.