Monthly Archives: April 2015

O.C. homes flying off the shelves; our market is the fifth-hottest in U.S.

Orange County Homes For SaleOrange County has the fifth-fastest pace of home sales in the nation so far this year, with 59 percent of the homes listed on Trulia coming off the market in two months or less, the real estate website reported recently.

Trulia measured sales pace by comparing how many homes listed on its website on Feb. 5 were still for sale by April 5. The results show that turnover is accelerating.

In the same period of 2014, 55 percent of the homes were either sold or withdrawn from the market in two months. Read more

How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for a Mortgage?

How long does it take to get pre-approved for home loan?Three days. That’s the fastest loan officer Scott Sheldon has ever seen someone get approved for a mortgage.

“He had every single iota of possible documentation you could imagine upfront,” said Sheldon, who’s a senior loan officer in Santa Rosa, Calif., and regularly writes about mortgages for

That three-day turnaround was unusual, but so was another case, when it took roughly two monthsto get mortgage approval. “If the borrower was just a little bit more transparent upfront, we probably wouldn’t have had that.”

Mortgage approval is a multi-step process, but the more consumers do from the beginning, the more likely it is to go quickly. Sheldon said he’s currently seeing a five- to six-day timeline for mortgage underwriting approval and about 18 days from the start of the process to issuing a commitment letter — when the lender commits to giving you the loan. The initial underwriting approval is often contingent on receiving more documentation from the borrower. Read more

How Much Cash Do You Really Need to Buy a Home?

How Much Cash Do You Really Need to Buy a Home?Demand for housing remains strong as we enter the spring season, and renters are finding that it may cost them less to buy a home than to rent. But if you don’t have a lot of cash and are looking to purchase your first home this year, you may find that you need less cash than you think.

It was standard to have 20% down to purchase a home 20 years ago. Today, putting down 20% does still give you the lowest possible payment in relationship to the cost of the house, but it is by no means a requirement, nor should it be thought of as the be-all and end-all for purchasing your first home.

The magic down payment amount you can have to purchase a home is — drumroll, please — 0%, no money down. You do not need a down payment to purchase a house.  Alternatively, a 3%, or more common a 5%, down payment can help strengthen your offer. Also, a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration requires a 3.5% minimum down payment. There are programs that can help get a first-time buyer in the door all with a 30-year fixed-rate payment containing no banking prepayment penalties or hidden terms. (Keep in mind that you’re considered a first-time homebuyer if you’ve not owned a home in the past three years.)

Let’s look at what other loan types require a low (or no) down payment.

1. USDA Mortgage

The U.S. Department of Agriculture allows people in less industrialized areas to purchase a home without putting any money down. You’ll need the cash for closing costs or you can ask the seller for the credit for closing costs. The loan allows a buyer to purchase a home up to the conforming loan limit working with the standard $417,000 conforming loan size. As long as you can qualify, the program does not require a down payment. Read more

Freddie and Fannie to Lower Some Fees

The federal regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plans to lower the mortgage fees paid by some borrowers, but the move would amount to only modest help for risky buyers with checkered credit histories.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is expected to announce in coming days changes to fees that Fannie and Freddie charge lenders to guarantee mortgages, according to people briefed on the matter.

For those borrowers affected by the changes, the benefits would be tiny, amounting to less than one-tenth of a percentage point. Fannie and Freddie, which back most home loans, will raise fees for other borrowers, like those who buy investment properties, to balance out the cost of the fee reduction. The changes are not expected to have any effect on revenue.

Julia Gordon, senior director of housing and consumer finance for the Center for American Progress, said the change in fees was in the right direction but didn’t go far enough. “Hopefully over time we can go further,” she said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the agency’s plans.

Ms. Gordon’s remarks echoed the sentiment of other housing advocates who had been frustrated with the slow and cautious approach taken by Melvin L. Watt, the agency’s director since January 2014. Read more

House-hunting? Hurry. Homes in California are moving faster

If you’re hoping to buy a house this spring, you might want to hop to it.

lRelated U.S. home sales perking up, but for how long? REAL ESTATE U.S. home sales perking up, but for how long?

Southern California is home to four of the nation’s nine fastest-moving housing markets right now, according to a new report out Wednesday. And the pace is picking up.

Real estate listings website Trulia crunched the numbers on how long home listings are staying on their site and found that only 43% of houses that were on the market in Los Angeles County in February were still up for sale in April. That’s the eighth-quickest pace in the country, and significantly faster than the 60% figure nationwide.

The fastest-moving market was San Francisco, where only 26% of listings last two months. In Orange County, the number was 41%, and eight of the top 10 were in California. The reason, said Trulia housing economist Ralph McLaughlin, is classic supply and demand. Read more

Fire burning in Colima / Mar Vista foothills. 3 acres burned. 10% containment. Developing

La Habra Heights, Ca Brushfire

La Habra Heights, Ca Brushfire

Fire burning in Colima / Mar Vista foothills. 3 acres burned. 10% containment. Developing

Crews battled a 2.5-acre brush fire in Whittier amid dangerous red-flag conditions on Thursday.

The blaze ignited near Mar Vista Street and Colima Road around 10:30 a.m.

As of 12 p.m., the fire was 70 percent contained.

The low humidity level, high temperatures and strong winds are creating hazardous fire conditions across the Southland.

Another brush fire erupted in Riverside earlier in the day in the Santa Ana River bottom near Market Street and the 60 Freeway. Crews made quick work of that blaze, knocking it down after it charred just 60 square feet of heavy brush. Read more

New La Habra Heights mayor sees road projects as way to ease rift

La Habra Heights RoadsLA HABRA HEIGHTS >> Newly elected Mayor Michael Higgins said he wants to bring the two sides, who fought over an anti-oil initiative that was defeated in the March 3 election, together to find a solution to improve the city’s roads.

Higgins, who was elected mayor on a 5-0 vote Thursday, said dealing with the issue is essential.

“We have some incredible community leaders on both sides of the issue that came forward and were willing to put in a lot of work to support how they feel,” he said. “What I’m hoping for in the next year is that we can rely on these community leaders to find solutions on how we can fix our roads.”

Property owners in August 2012 by a 2-1 margin rejected a proposal that would have raised about $1  million annually to spend on road maintenance.

But the roads aren’t getting any better since then, Higgins said.

“Our roads are in horrible condition regardless of what anybody says,” Higgins said. “I drive and look at all of the cracks.”

Mike Hughes, president of Heights Oil Watch that placed Measure A, the anti-oil initiative on the ballot, agrees that roads are a concern. Read more

For One Crazy Day, 7-Eleven Is Letting Everyone Bring Their Own Cups To Fill With Slurpees

Slurpee-CutoutWho: 7-Eleven

What: The convienience store chain is inviting customers to bring their own cups from home and fill it with Slurpees for one day. Yep, you can bring that old Rescue Rangers mug you had as a kid in the store and get yourself a cold one.

It costs $1.49 plus tax for an iced beverage so you definitely want to make the most of it with a larger-than-average container. The catch is, the cup has to fit within the 10-inch cutout located near the Slurpee machine. Kind of like those signs near roller coasters that tell you how tall you have to be. Read more

What is a Buyer’s vs. Seller’s Market in Real Estate?

What is a Buyer’s vs. Seller’s Market in Real Estate?
How do you define a buyer’s market vs. a seller’s market in real estate? The simple answer is that when there’s more supply than demand, it’s a buyer’s market and when there’s more demand than supply, it’s a seller’s market.Demand in is commonly judged by months of inventory based on closed sales.Buyer’s Market = 6 or more months of inventory

Seller’s Market = Less than 3 months of inventory 

Neutral Market = 3-6 months of inventory

So What Does Months of Inventory Mean?

Months of inventory takes into account the number of homes for sale on the market with recently sold homes and reflects the number of months it would take to sell all homes currently on the market. You can calculate months of inventory by dividing the total number of homes for sale over the number of homes sold in one month.

When months of inventory are low, it’s a fast paced market dominated by buyers and few sellers. When months of inventory are high, there are generally more homes on the market (dominated by sellers) with fewer buyers or sales.

Currently SoCal is a Neutral Market is… Read more