Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's resolutions

Happy new year, everybody! What are your resolutions regarding real estate? Here are mine:
  • Have more fun with real estate,
  • Help my clients have more fun and success with their r.e. deals,
  • Visit more food trucks when they come to Studio City, Burbank and the San Fernando Valley.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2208 Willetta in Hollywood Dell closed

This is 2208 Willetta in Hollywood Dell (the small neighborhood across the 101 from the Hollywood Bowl). I brought the buyers for it and it closed last week.  I'd like to thank my personal Santa Clauses, Mike Napolitano (our Dilbeck manager) and Dana Dukelow of Prospect Mortgage for getting this closed.  And I'd especially like to thank and congratulate the buyers, R&E, for their forbearance, wisdom, patience, and good humor during this very difficult escrow.  These two are champs, and really hung in during one of the worst transactions* of all time.  I wish you all good things in this house, R&E!

*This was one part of a three-part transaction involving Morse (see below).  I can't go into detail here without risking legal action, but if you want to phone me, I might be able to give you details.  Hint: if you call me, ask me about the lender on Morse.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

4552 Morse in Studio City is closing today

4552 Morse in Studio City is closing today.  It has been listed since May.  To put it in my slightly-skewed crazy cat lady perspective, the house has been listed since before we got our brand-new kitten, Gris-Gris.  And he's fully grown now.  I'm certain this escrow gave the sellers gray hair, but they hung in like champs.  Props go to our Dilbeck broker-of-record, Mike Napolitano, for his involvement in getting this closed.

More about this transaction in future posts.  It closed at $615,000.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An opportunity for Burbank businesses to go green

The Burbank Green Alliance is working with the City of Burbank to host 3 classes through the Team Business Training Series. Here's the info:
 
GOING GREEN-Business Lecture Series
These three distinct courses will help you save money and resources, design your green business blueprint, build customer satisfaction, and incorporate product stewardship in your purchases and services!

For more information on cost, location, and speakers visit www.burbankgreenalliance.org/events.html

Wednesdays, 6:30pm to 9:00pm
(It is not necessary to attend all three courses)

January 5th     Greening Your Restaurant & Food Service
Speaker: Leslie VanKeuren, Founder, Sustain LA

January 12th   Concrete Strategies for a Green Business 
Speaker: Brad Cracchiola, Senior Sustainability Engineer, BMW Group DesignworksUSA                          
  
January 19th   Embracing Cradle-to-Cradle Concepts 
Speaker: Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director, California Product Stewardship Council

To Register visit www.teambusinessburbank.com or call (818) 238-5198

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Why can't my mortgage lender get my loan done?"

I'm hearing about problems with mortgage lenders more frequently these days.  I currently have my own horror story to tell, but I'm going to wait to expound on it until the new year. 

But there are excellent mortgage brokers out there who can get loans closed in a timely manner.  Two of my favorites can be found by clicking here, or visiting the "Local Partners" page on JudyGraff.com. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

From today's LAT: re-fi turns foreclosure nightmare

L.A. Times columnist David Lazarus has written an excellent article today about Lana Ashford, who attempted to re-finance her home with BofA and, through no fault of her own, ended up getting foreclosed instead.  Click here for the link, the title should work too.  I promise that you'll be even more scared to deal with the big banks after reading this.

If you've read this blog before, you'll remember my BofA refinance saga.  My husband and I tried to do a simple home refinance in January 2009.  We were immediately approved, but somehow it still inexplicably took six months to go through.

Here's my question, as a bank customer and also a Realtor who deals with short sales: why, two years into the lending crisis, haven't the banks ramped up enough to service their own loans in a timely, correct manner?  Have they just not hired enough people?  Are they stalling? What's going on?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Realtor makes an offer, Chapter 4: How will this end?

We did not get the Toluca Lake townhouse that we made the offer on.

We offered full price.  So did the listing agent's clients.

Our terms were good.  So were the listing agent's clients.

We were going to put 20% down.  The listing agent's clients were putting more down.  According to the listing agent, that's what persuaded her seller to take their offer and not ours.  Of course, the listing agent will get the full 6% commission, but I'm sure that had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with who the listing agent's seller picked.

Will we continue to look? Maybe.  Maybe not.  Right now, we're busy licking our wounds.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Realtor makes an offer -- Chapter 3: the negotiation

The Toluca Lake townhouse we like is listed for $439,000.  I believe the comparable sales in the neighborhood and complex show it to be worth about $425,000.  On Monday night, my husband and I made an offer of $430,000.  We have 20% down, are pre-approved by a direct lender, and can close in 30 days.  I will be taking my share of the commission, which is 2.5%, which will help with our closing costs.  We might go to $439,000, but I'm concerned about the appraisal coming in at that value.

The townhouse is still not available to be shown as painting is being completed, but will be ready right before Thanksgiving for Realtors and their clients to view.

On Tuesday, the listing agent tells me the seller wants to wait to respond to offers until after her Sunday-after-Thanksgiving open house and is stuck on her asking price.  Fair enough.

On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, the listing agent calls me to tell me there is another good offer in and it is comparable to ours in price, terms, etc.  She sends a $439,000 counter offer to us.  We sign off -- appraisal be damned, my husband really loves this place -- and send it back.

The listing agent calls to tell me that she is representing the clients who are bringing the other offer (I wondered how anybody else got in to see it so soon) and they too have signed off on the full-price counter.  This goes without saying between agents, but she will make 6%, not 3.5%, if she double-ends this.
Next: how will this end?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Realtor makes an offer - Chapter 2: Kitchen worries

The townhouse we're considering buying in Toluca Lake really suits us.  We like the location, the layout, the price and the HOA.  But the kitchen...doesn't work at all.  It's tiny (the picture above is not it.)  We're not gourmet cooks, but this kitchen is about 2/3rds the size of the one we have now, which is already too small. It's u-shaped, and there won't be room for two humans and 3 pets.  It has a double oven, which we don't need, and has no pantry, which we do need. It really needs a build-out, and we can't work with it as it is.

We went to Lowes and got cabinet catalogs.  And had a contractor who we've used in the past take a look.  (This contractor can sell ice to Eskimos.)  Yes, the kitchen can be remodeled, built out, expanded, etc. -- and will cost a minimum of $20k just to do a medium-line build out, probably more.  In cash.

Yikes.  That's on top of our 20% downpayment.  During this time, we were also watching HGtv remodeling shows.  Yes, a medium-line kitchen will cost $20k plus.

Other flaws become evident.  The rooftop patio has water intrusion issues.  The master bath doesn't have a tub. There's one less closet than we need, although perhaps we can do something in the garage.  The carpet is shot.

Although we had our doubts, the pluses outweigh the minuses, at least to my husband.  We went ahead and made an offer anyway, about $9k less than full price.  We won't sell our existing house until the Spring, and we can close in 30 days.  We're approved by a lender.

And the place hasn't been shown yet as it's being painted (but is on the mls), so we figure the early bird is going to get the worm.  The listing agent is in my office, is a friend, and has gotten us to see it in advance of the marketing.
Next: our negotiation

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Realtor makes an offer - Chapter 1: Money worries

My husband and I made an offer on a townhouse in Toluca Lake.  The seller will make a decision this weekend. We like our current place, but our current neighborhood is not what it was.  This townhouse has more space, is newer, has an attached garage, a patio with a view, etc.  It also needs a new kitchen and carpet.  You'd think we'd be sanguine about this, but no.  This decision was fraught with the same worries that most buyers have:
- Can we truly afford it?  Our monthly nut will go up!
- What if either one of us loses our job? And my husband is close to retirement!
- Is it wise to dip into savings for the downpayment?
- What about the higher property tax?
- Can we get what we think we can get for our current home?
Stay tuned...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Burbank's Holiday in the Park

Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank will be closed tonight between Buena Vista and Hollywood Way for the annual "Holiday in the Park."  This should be great fun if it doesn't rain.  My reason for going: this will be a good opportunity to visit some of Burbank's and the greater L.A. area's best resale and vintage clothing stores (yes, I've previously blogged about Burbank's clothing stores).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The NBC Universal Expansion Plan, Burbank and the Burbank Leader

Today's Burbank Leader has an article about the NBC Universal Expansion plan and how it may effect Burbank.  The environment impact report link is here -- but it's 27 volumes.  Burbank's Community Development Department is in the process of reviewing the report's findings, and comments about the report can be submitted to the City Council by Jan. 3.  The report states that traffic will only be minimally impacted, because everybody will take the bus.  Oh, please.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More about 1435 Pass, Burbank or the trouble with "auction prices"

See below for previous posts -- and comments -- on the listing at 1435 N. Pass, Burbank.  An agent in my office, whose client made an offer on it for $435,000, tells me that there were ten offers by last weekend.  His client's offer was not the highest, and he believes Pass went into escrow around $440,000+.  This is still less than what I think the house is worth, and in my opinion, the buyers got a fabulous deal.  I'll know exactly what it sold for when the price is published in the multiple listing service next month.

I think that if the sellers had priced this a little closer to the comps, it would have taken a longer to sell.  That's a bad thing.  But I also think they would have ended up with a higher price -- and that's a good thing, if you're a seller.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I may want to buy 10645 Bloomfield in Toluca Lake for myself

Along with my husband, I got a sneak peak at Mimi Kim's listing at 10645 Bloomfield in Toluca Lake.  We liked it.  A lot.  For ourselves.  It has the requisite space, an attached garage and we like the neighborhood and complex.  Problem: the kitchen doesn't work for us; it's much smaller than the kitchen we have now.  Should I buy it and remodel the kitchen? Dare I take money out of savings to do so?  All of a sudden, I'm having the same dilemnas that my clients have.  Stay tuned.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Need a laugh? Agent comments from the multiple listing service

Today's post from our friends at AgentGenius.com is a "blooper reel" of comments written by listing agents on the multiple listing service.  Sample: “Beautiful satan wallpaper in foyer” (No doubt it’s a flame print.)."  No doubt many of these were from Realtors in the San Fernando Valley. Click here for more.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More on 1435 N. Pass, Burbank

See the post farther down on the page.  Here's the email string between the listing agent and me.

Mike, your email went into my spam folder.  I will remove the comment about offers over listing, although I'm sure you did get offers over listing.  That's all.  I think you should thank me -- that post has gotten lots and lots of site vists, and I suggested that any buyers bring their A+ game and not mess around with making lowball offers. It may turn out that your prevailing buyer took my advice, which is to the benefit of your sellers.  Further, my listing two doors away closed at $480k just a little over six months ago and I stand by my estimate of the value of this listing.
Judy Graff




-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Babakhanyan <soldbymikeb@gmail.com>
To: Info@JudyGraff.com
Sent: Wed, Nov 10, 2010 11:47 am
Subject: Your Blog on my Listing

Judy,
 
I read your blog regarding my listing on 1435 N. Pass Ave. 

1435 N. Pass, Burbank: real price or auction price?

 
 
You certainly have the right to express your opinion when blogging, but you have information that is misleading and I want you to remove certain comments immediately.
 
1.        I never informed you anything about the prices of our offers.   You asked if I have multiple offers and I said YES.  I never said anything about the offers being over asking price. 
2.       You are commenting that the price of the home will sell between $460k-$480k.  Today’s comps don’t justify a sales price that high.  You are misleading and I need you to remove that.
 
My office is ready to file a complaint at the Professional Standard Hearing Board if the corrections are not made.

Thank you,
 
Mike Babakhanyan
Prudential California Realty

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

More animal statues in Burbank, CA!

It has been awhile since I've had the opportunity to do this! And I so look forward to publishing pictures of graven animal statues in Burbank, CA.  This roaring, winged lion is one of two who guards the gate of the Doge's Palace in Venice a house on Brookshire, right next to the listing posted below.

3301 Brookshire Ct., Burbank for $2,599,000 - office exclusive listing

Here's the front door (plus a lot of Realtors) of a home at 3301 Brookshire Court, in the Highridge Estates in Burbank, CA.  It has 5 beds, 7 baths, 6645 square feet, a pool, a view of the San Fernando Valley, and all the bells and whistles you could want in a high-end home.  It's really gorgeous and it's listed for $2,599,000.  But unless you retain a Dilbeck Realtor, like me, you may not be able to view this home for sale in Burbank for awhile.

Why? Because it's an "office exclusive."  This means the house is for sale, but is not yet in the multiple listing service.  The seller has decided that buyers at this point in time must be represented only by Realtors from the listing agent's office -- that's us, Dilbeck Realtors.  How does that benefit anybody? The sellers chose to do this as they want to wait to publicize the listing until after the holidays, but wish to make the home available for (really) motivated buyers now.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Own a condo in Burbank or the San Fernando Valley? You may wind up paying your neighbor's bills

Here's a story from today's L.A. Times (yes, again) regarding condo associations and how finances are handled, especially when several home owners association members are in foreclosure.  Yes, the remaining members have to take up the financial slack.

What the article doesn't say is that it can be very difficult to sell a condo, even if you're not in arrears in your dues, if the HOA finances aren't healthy.  That's because banks don't want to make loans on these projects -- they believe, rightfully so, that the value may decline due to lack of reserves, inability to pay for maintenance, inability to pay insurance, etc.  Just this year I've experienced this for condo projects in the north San Fernando Valley, Burbank, Toluca Lake or Studio City.  If you are interested in purchasing a townhouse or condo in any of these areas, please contact me and we'll find out about the Association's financial health before you make an offer.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Universal City expansion: necessary for growth or traffic nightmare?

Update 11/10/10: the terrific Burbank, CA blog has a great post about this. As you may know, Universal City plans to expand by adding more buildings to its lot.  This includes almost 3,000 housing units.  Here's the article about the environmental impact report from today's L.A. Times.  Some of the more interesting items in the article with my comments in color:

"The 39,000-page report identified noise and solid waste removal during the construction process as the primary negative effects of the development. " Hmm, since construction is slated to go on for twenty years...


"Our principal concern continues to be traffic," said Daniel Savage, president of the local residents group Hollywood Knolls Community Club. "Especially traffic driven by the apartments on the back lot." I'm with you, Daniel.  Traffic comes to a standstill on Barham on a regular basis.

"About half the $100 million would be spent on improving traffic flow on nearby streets and intersections, which would have to handle an additional 2,750 car trips each afternoon.  That's similar to the traffic generated by a regional shopping center (italics mine), said Patrick Gibson, a traffic consultant for NBC Universal. Mitigation measures such as street widening would ease the flow at most intersections, though Lankershim would remain a bottleneck where it is flanked by the subway on one side and an office tower on the other." Yes, that's similar to a regional shopping center -- especially on those days when all 2,750 cars try to get into the Costco lot between 6:05 pm and 6:15 pm.

I just don't see that traffic won't be a nightmare.  I also don't see that the area needs another 3,000 housing units.

Pending Home Sales Index declines 1.8% in September

From our friends at Calculated Risk: Pending Home Sales Index declines 1.8% in September. No surprise here. It's been slow for the last several months.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

1435 N. Pass, Burbank: real price or auction price?

Update 11/9/10: I just spoke with the listing agent on this and he has five offers in. 1435 N. Pass in Burbank, CA is a 3+2, 1154 sf. house with a pool that just listed for $400,000.  I had sold the house two doors away at 1441 N. Pass in February for $480,000.  This new listing has one extra bathroom, a teeny bit more square footage, and is nicely done inside.  It has only a one-car garage where 1441 had a two car garage.  1441 also had an unpermitted guest unit with a bath.  Therefore, these houses are quite similiar; what gives on such a low price on this one?

I predict this is an "auction" price.  The sellers may have wanted to sell quickly and price it low to get a lot of offers really quickly.  And they will -- I also predict that they will have multiple offers by this weekend.

If you're a buyer that wishes to purchase this house, here's my advice: bring your A+ game and don't mess around.  Start high with your offer (certainly no lower than $460,000.  That's right.  $460,000.) and plan to go up to $475k or $480k.  I know the truth hurts, but trust me: this will go fast and will go out around that price.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How will the election affect homes and real estate in the San Fernando Valley

Our friends at Calculated Risk have a blog post about how the election will affect the financial markets.  But how will it affect real estate in Burbank, Studio City and the San Fernando Valley

Here's my non-economist guess-of-an-answer: it won't affect it much.  On the federal side, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren't going away any time soon, no matter what party controls Congress (it would be a major-league game-changer if they did).  The banks have all the incentives in the world to keep loaning money to people for houses, so that won't change. Of course, good financial news, such as employment going down, will have a positive effect, but I don't think just one house in one branch of government is going to be able to do much there either.  In California, there may be more government oversight of the foreclosure process, which isn't such a guess since it has started already.  The government in Sacramento will be working faster, now that a supermajority is no longer needed to pass a budget or much other spending except for tax increases.

How do you think the election will affect real estate?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

4552 Morse, Studio City is in escrow

4552 Morse in Studio City is in escrow.  Actually, it has been in escrow for several weeks, but all contingencies have just been removed.  It will close at the end of November or the beginning of December.

Monday, November 01, 2010

From today's L.A. Times, but it left me scratching my head

This article from today's front page states that people paying mortgages on underwater homes are creating a drag on the economy, because that money could be used to purchase other things.

I think the logic is a little tortured. It doesn't consider the fact that the vast majority of people are going to have to pay for a roof over their heads, whether it's in rent or for a mortgage.  So, is all money spent on housing a drag on the economy because that money could be spent on something else? 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Annual Economic Outlook

Every year in October, Dilbeck presents its Realtors (including me) with the California Association of Realtors annual economic outlook.  It's a power point document but is in pdf format here.  Yes, it's heavy on the charts and graphs.  The take-away this year to me is that we've bottomed out on home prices and interest rates.  Thoughts?

Friday, October 15, 2010

1809 Peyton in Burbank closes today

1809 Peyton is a condo complex in Burbank.  My buyer client Steven has been in escrow on a unit there for four months.  Kudos to Steven and lender Dana Dukelow for hanging in and making this FHA sale happen -- and getting the entire building approved for FHA loans! -- in spite of:
  • A previous denial of FHA eligibility on the building,
  • An HOA management company that sent incorrect documentation to FHA,
  • A title company that sent incorrect info to FHA,
  • A lengthy approval process at Prospect Mortgage,
  • Complete and total lack of cooperation from the listing agent (but am I bitter? oh noooo) (see previous post about the seller who never got the buyer's request for repairs)
  • An escrow officer who disappeared for several days during the closing procedure and left the work to an unlicensed Realtor assistant, and more.
Steven, I wish you much success and happiness in your new home!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fine art in Burbank: THE LAST SUPPER (in Tupperware)

Photography Prints
For those skeptics among you, I hope this proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that yes, there is fine art and culture in Burbank.  You can view this in the store museum window of ARC TV and VCR Repair at 2529 W. Magnolia, Burbank, CA 91505.  Artist Bill Czappa has a permanent installation of his other works, some just as, uh, reverential, in the store museum.  And you can have your TV and VCR repaired while you browse! Contact Bill at arctv4@relaypoint.net.  While we're on the subject of religious art, those of you that enjoy Christian commentary may want to check out the new blog OurLadyOnline.com.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

From Activerain: Irresistible forces are meeting immovable objects. Real estate in 2010

IRRESISTIBLE FORCES ARE MEETING IMMOVABLE OBJECTS. Real estate in 2010.

IRRESISTIBLE FORCES ARE MEETING IMMOVABLE OBJECTS!. . . .  WE ARE TRULY LIVING IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE WITH SELLERS ON ONE SIDE OF THE CURVE AND BUYERS ON THE OTHER!  Can they come together and form "WHITE MATTER".  Or, will be all be drawn into that BLACK HOLE of negativity. 
Why, what do you mean, Lenn???  Lenn
What "irresistible forces"?  What "immovable objects?"
NO. 1 IRRESTIBLE FORCE:   SELLERS' LENDERS WHICH, AFTER 3 YEARS OF SERIOUS and UBIQUITOUS SHORT SALE ACTIVITY, THERE ARE:
  • No Short Sale Guidelines for the lending industry.
  • No lenders with established published Short Sale processing procedures.
  • No conformity of qualifications for Owner acceptance for Short Sale.

THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT?  THE LENDER and THE INTRACTABILITY OF SHORT SALE PROCESSING by sellers' lenders who follow no logical or timely attempts to get to the closing table.   Oh sure, we read "bragging rights" advertising and blogs (advertising) by listing agent describing "closed in 19 days" or "processed in 45 days".  Yet, the preponderance of short sales that the Buyers' Brokers in my network close have been taking an average of about 135 days.   That's not fiction.  That's fact established by tracking the "contract to close" period for 12 months - 73 short sale transactions by 11 experienced Realtors. 
NO. 2 IRRESISTIBLE FORCE:  PROSPECTIVE HOME BUYERS WHO BELIEVE THAT ALL SELLERS ARE DESPERATE TO SELL AND WILL ACCEPT OR NEGOTIATE ANY LOW OFFER INCLUDING:
  • Bank owned properties that are discounted to about 90% of local market.
  • Short Sale listings with 8 DOM that are discounted to about 90-95% of local market.
  • Non-foreclosure or non-short sale listings that are priced to sell at the low end of local market.
  • Fixer-uppeHome Buyersr listings that are discounted to 25% below market.  THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT?  THE INTRACTABILITY OF
BUYERS WHO BELIEVE THE NEWS REPORTS THAT ALL OWNERS ARE DESPERATE TO SELL AND ANY OFFER IS REASONABLE.  One of the results of the frequency of low offers is that sellers are pricing unrealistically high to counter the low offers that they expect from unrealistic buyers.  The belief that buyers can "pick up" real estate at prices well below the local market may be inspired by Realtor advertising touting their "negotiating skills" which often amount to little more than writing low offers.  Without good research into the individual property listings with consideration of recent closed sales, general condition, local attractions, shopping, schools, transportation alternatives, etc., simply writing low offers doesn't take an experienced real estate buyer's agent.  Such superficial representation can be performed by any licensee.
NO 3 IRRESISTIBLE FORCE:  HOME OWNER SELLERS WHO BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN DICTATE THE CONDITIONSTermites FOR THE SALE OF THEIR HOME.
  • Sellers who eschew agent prepared CMAs and price their property based on how much they want to clear.
  • Price their home based on the price for which a home in the neighborhood sold 11 months ago.
  • Owners who refuse to address deferred maintenance items prior to listing.
  • Owners who ignore agent provided sold pricing trends and expect the market to always go up.
  • Owners who believe that "as is" means that a buyer must accept the property "as is".
THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT?  THE PROPERTY.  A piece of land with or without an improvement that has no heart or brain.  A property that listens to no one.  A house that refuses to morph into what the seller wants to believe he is selling and refuses to be reduced to the image of what the buyer believes is it's value.
THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY IS ON THE PRECIPICE OF DRAMATIC CHANGE.  Much has already changed in the past 3-4 years.
  • Home values have plummeted across the country.
  • Foreclosures and Short Sales dominate many local real estate markets.
  • Mortgage loan qualifications have become dramatically more difficult.
  • Negative equity has stripped many home owners of their financial security.
  • Loss of credit limits the ability of buyers and sellers to buy and sell real estate.
  • Unemployment excludes many from the real estate market for some time.
  • The high percentage of First Time Home Buyers with marginal credit and no cash reserves
IS THERE ANY GOOD NEWS??  Of course there is.  There always is:New Home
  • Home buyers have many new and late model homes on the market from which to select their dream home.
  • Home prices should, in time, show positive equity for today's buyers.
  • Mortgage payments are low when compared to past values.
  • Interest rates are low which should benefit owners for many years to come.
  • New homes have been reduced in priced to about 3/4 of the 2006 price range. 
Lenn
IS THIS A GOOD TIME TO BUY A HOME?  Clearly, if a person is financially able and motivated towards home ownership, this is an a good time to buy a home.
IS THIS A GOOD TIME TO SELL A HOME?  If an owner is realistic about the local market values and has sufficient equity or assets to close.  Other than need, it's not a good time to sell.  However, the picture doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.
IS THIS A GOOD TIME TO JOIN THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY AS AN AGENT?  Only if a person has sufficient savings and/or income from other sources to be able to finance a real estate practice start-up and pay living expenses for probably a year or more.  It may take that long to build an income stream from real estate sales.  Many home buyers believe that they can do the job themselves with the help of the Internet.  Many agents don't understand Internet advertising.
DON'T FORGET TO REBLOG!  THANKS.
Courtesy, Lenn Harley, Broker, Homefinders.com,  800-711-7988.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Seen in Toluca Lake

Actress Denise Grayson was seated at the table next to us at Toluca Lake's Firenze last night.  She was great in The Social Network!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Psst! Look to the right

You can finally search the multiple listing service for available L.A. County properties right from this page -- just click on the link at the right.  This search covers not just Burbank homes for sale, but all real estate in the San Fernando Valley and L.A. City, too!  Have fun and please contact me if you notice any glitches.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Housesellingblues.com

I just learned of this person's blog and book, Home Sellers' Blues and How to Beat Them, from an L.A. Times story.  Joan Frank, the blogger/author, is just a regular person whose house was on the market forever, and she offers good advice for those in the same boat.  The book is available from Amazon and the blog will be here on the blog roll.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The moral of the story is...

If you are a property buyer or seller, the moral of the story is that if you're NOT being asked to review and acknowledge or sign a bajillion things during escrow, then you're not being aware of everything that's going on between you and the other party.  And it's your Realtor's fault.

And here's the story.  My buyer has been in a protracted escrow (reasons I'll blog about later) with a seller and a listing agent who shall remain nameless. The listing agent told us that the seller has refused to make any repairs to the property.  We've just learned that the seller won't do anything because the seller was never made aware by his agent that we wanted anything done, and was never furnished with our communications on the subject.

During an escrow, there are many decisions to be made and corresponding documents to be signed.  These include escrow paperwork, disclosures, and financing paperwork.  If you're not reviewing stuff every several days or so, then your Realtor is making decisions for you.  And that's illegal as it violates the Civil Code regarding agency.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Housing Guru says...

John Mulkey, The Housing Guru, has many years of experience in the home building industry.  Here's his take on our next year:

Perhaps I should be pleased that my predictions for 2010 proved more accurate than many of the so-called experts, but gloating has little appeal when most of the country continues to suffer the effects of the worst recession in decades. And although those same “experts” have announced that the recession ended more than a year ago, that seems little consolation to the millions of unemployed or millions more who have lost their homes. These are indeed troubling times, and our troubles are far from over. But since this is a longer post than last year, I’ll jump right in.

Interest rates: There are no surprises. Interest rates will remain low throughout 2011, with mortgages probably remaining close to 5% and 10 year Treasuries around 3.5%. The government/Fed will continue to keep rates at near historic rates, for doing otherwise would put the brakes on an economy that is stuck in first gear. Inflation still seems a possibility, but at this point, only a distant one.

Home prices: While many had predicted home prices to stabilize by the end of 2009, that didn’t happen. Through July of this year, prices have declined another 3.3% year over year. There has been no stabilization. Although home prices are down about 35% from the peak, they’re still about 10-15% above the trend line of the past 100 years. In addition, there’s still an incredible overhang of potential foreclosures and short-sales, and the market must absorb those before we achieve stabilization.

In 2009, the “cure rate” for delinquent mortgages fell off a cliff, and if anything, that trend has only worsened. Only a small fraction of loans in default are self-curing today, providing a “shadow inventory” of up to 7 million homes. Prices will remain under pressure until those homes are absorbed. And, adjusted for inflation, home prices will NEVER recoup the losses of the past 3 years.

Foreclosures and short-sales: Distress sales, now at the highest rate since the beginning of the recession, will remain a huge portion of home sales, hovering near 35-40% throughout 2011 and comprising as much as one-third of sales in 2012.

A new concern for some is the possibility that the government is considering allowing the housing market to collapse, especially since none of their efforts to salvage it have been successful. While I don’t think that will happen in the near-term—prices would fall dramatically, endangering both banking and the overall economy—I do expect to see a prolonged effort to withdraw government support from the housing and mortgage markets. Loss of government support will ultimately make homes more expensive and more difficult to finance—but that’s a 3-5 year scenario.



Housing Tax Credit: While there has been some mention of extending another Homebuyer Tax Credit, the administration seems to have little appetite and no funds for doing so. With no support from NAR or NAHB, and with only marginal results from previous credits, it seems unlikely that we’ll see another in 2011.


Employment: The key to a sustainable recovery is the creation of millions of new jobs, and that’s just not going to happen this year or the next. Unemployment throughout 2011 should remain above 9%. With 20 million currently unemployed, underemployed, or out of work self-employed, some are now resigned to the prospect of never working again. Millions of jobs have been lost forever, and the economy will have to remake itself in order to employ all those who need/desire employment. Creating new job opportunities in new industries will take years, resulting in prolonged uncertainty in an economy whose lifeblood is consumer confidence and spending.



New Construction: The current recovery has seen the slowest rebound in residential construction in more than fifty years; and with the administration publicly pushing affordable rentals over the concept of home ownership, homebuilders will see little relief from Uncle Sam. Additionally, changing demographics, tightened lending restrictions, and a market exercising extreme caution, will cause some to remain renters for longer periods than we’ve seen in the past.



In my 2009 post I predicted an ugly mid-term election, and that seems to be coming to pass. Both political parties have sent out their “attack dogs” and are filling the airwaves with both distortions and impossible promises, yet neither has presented a viable plan for recovery. And that’s because there is none—at least none that will satisfy the American voter who demands instant improvement, yet who is unwilling to forgo any portion of their “entitlements.” And the prospects are even more dismal for the coming year, as both parties begin posturing for the presidential election and are carrying partisan politics to the extreme.



Finally, while the economy will continue to grow, it will do so at a rate insufficient to rapidly absorb the millions of unemployed or to stimulate growth in troubled sectors. Crippled by continued high unemployment and weak consumer confidence, the growth will be obscured by the dark clouds of uncertainty. And while some may feel my analysis too negative, the facts are what they are. Of course it is possible that some unforeseen action could inexplicably restore our economy—possible, but most unlikely.



(It could be worse) The above is contingent upon our avoiding other global catastrophes. Should there be any sort of mid-east conflict, a spike in oil prices, economic collapse in Europe, or a significant terrorist attack, all bets are off. And while we will probably avoid such calamities, in today’s world, little is certain.



The Housing Guru: The expert source for all your housing questions

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just reduced! 4552 Morse, Studio City is now listed at $639,000

We've reduced the price on 4552 Morse, Studio City to $639,000.  It's definitely the nicest house in Studio City in the price range.  Please visit JudyGraff.com for more pictures or to arrange a showing.  With this new reduction plus low interest rates, yes, you can afford Studio City!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Burbank rocks L.A.'s vintage fashion and designer resale!

Forget Melrose and Silverlake.  If you’re looking for vintage clothing and designer resale clothing, Burbank is the place to be.  Magnolia Boulevard has finally become a seriously-great destination shopping experience with Magnolia Commons, the long-lived Hubba Hubba, always-busy It’s a Wrap, the formerly-in-Studio-City  Playclothes (it’s like a museum inside!) and Unique Vintage.  I’m sure I’m leaving some stores out, but since they’re all walking distance from each other, nobody should have a problem finding them.

If walking from store to store isn't your thing, please give online Vintage Friends a try.  Local proprietor Melinda has some amazing things -- and if you tell her that I sent you, she'll give you a discount!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How to "comp" a house for sale

This recently came up on a transaction: the misuse of sales data for comparable sales purposes.  Here are the three numbers you start your comparison with, and these are the numbers the bank's appraisers use as well:
-- sales closest in time, preferably no older than three months;
-- sales closest in distance, preferably no farther away than 1/2 a mile;
-- sales closest in size.  You cannot compare a 1,000 square foot home to a 2,000 square foot home.  Ideally, the size difference should be no greater/lesser than 25%.
Yes, there are variables, including exact location, neighborhood, view, condition, lot size, etc. but these are the three fundamentals to start with.  I'll elaborate in another post soon.  And remember, exact price per square footage is only accurate if you're comparing condos in the same building with the same square footage, amenities, etc. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The money you lost in your price reduction wasn't real

This is a re-blog from the Activerain website, which is a Realtor network.  Once again, Philip Faranda comes up with price reduction advice that is oh-so-succinct!  I especially like his line, "The market has spoken." 

Via J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip LLC) Westchester County NY:
Westchester Real Estate MarketWith a median home price hovering near $700,000, even a modest price reduction on a Westchester County home can be tens of thousands of dollars. I have to approach a reduction with the diplomacy of a funeral director but be as convincing as a physician imploring his patient to quit smoking.

No one could predict after the stimulus where prices would go, but it is clear that what few buyers we have are skimming the absolute cream off the top and leaving the rest. They even fight over the good stuff, creating an illusion of urgency in isolated precincts. Overall, sadly, median home price is an illusion; it is a metric of the value of those few, unique sought after homes that people watch even when they weren't on sale. They needed nothing. They were priced to the bone for their category.

Money lost in a price reduction was never your money. It was an illusion. It didn't exist. I find myself, more and more, explaining to mournful sellers that the $25,000 that went down the drain when they went from $624,900 to $599,900 was a paramour that never loved them. She never cared, Johnny. The baby wasn't yours. She wanted to close the Copa and make sure you never worked in this town again. For God's sake man pull yourself together, it was all an illusion.

You know, that sort of thing they cover day 2 in licensing class. Or not.
In 2005, 852 single family homes sold in Westchester County with a median price of $732,000.
In 2010, 424 single family homes sold in Westchester County with a median price of $715,000. 428 people got nothing.

The pool of able buyers has shrunken by an absurd amount. Millions of prospects have vanished due to either their own disasters or the new draconian lender underwriting guidelines. What few buyers remain are skeptical, drunk with options, terrified of making a mistake, have no confidence in the future, and are heavily invested in the group think notion that they must get a steal or they will be exposed to grave financial risk. You know, all those happy things perspective home buyers have always focused on.

Here's the reality: If you are multiple listed, staged well, tidy, and have been on the market for 60 or 90 days with no offers or few lookers, the market has spoken; you need to reduce your price. You aren't the McClotchkees down at the end of the cul de sac who sold in the first 30 days. They had something, or ten things, you don't have. And the only adjustment you can make to the buying public is price. A feature ad won't do it. A newspaper display ad won't get it done. Busting your agent's chops to chase down Gladys Pflarphlingston for feedback on a showing 2 weeks ago won't do it. If you are on the MLS, I can show you how many people have clicked on you online and clicked off every week since we listed. You aren't a secret. Quite the opposite: with public searches, serious prospects can tell me their opinion of your toothpaste.
If we are in showing condition with marketing and you aren't sold, the faster we address price the faster we'll sell. The money you are asking for is not on deposit in the bank of buyer opinion.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

4552 Morse, Studio City: Open Sunday 1-4 - SEE BELOW FOR BUYER INCENTIVES!

4552 Morse Ave. in Studio City will be open on Sunday, Sept. 12, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm! This gorgeous 2 bed, 1 bath traditional is being offered for $659,000. More info and pics can be found on my website at JudyGraff.com. And there's more -- the motivated sellers will consider paying buyer nonrecurring closing costs.  This could result in a cash savings to a buyer at escrow closing of $12,000 to $18,000! 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

14 Reasons why the San Fernando Valley and L.A. are superior to San Francisco and the SF peninsula

I just spent a weekend in Palo Alto and San Francisco visiting my in-laws. Yes, everybody loves San Francisco with its big-city vibe and 20 kinds of olive oil, blah, blah blah, big vacation destination, etc. But really, I missed our land and think we have it all over the SF Bay Area. Here's why.

1. We have more homes for sale. Many more. (Had to get that search term in there, but it's true.)
2. We have Universal City and Disneyland. They have Pier 39. Please.
3. We have less traffic. Really.
4. They have Stanford. We have UCLA, USC and Makeup Art Designory.
5. There, everybody wears hoodies and looks like the Unibomber. We have Aloha shirts and fat kids in baggy, calf-length shorts. Way more cheerful!
6. We have more tattoos and piercings.
7. We have Zankou Chicken.
8. Many of us can see a Costco or Target from our houses. What can they see? The Golden Gate Bridge, maybe? Meh.
9. We have more parking. You can actually turn your car off close to your house here.
10. Housing costs less here.
11. We have more Armenians, and more of every other ethnic group, too. Except maybe Chinese.
12. We have the Lakers. (We'll leave the Dodgers v. Giants argument for another time.)
13. We have The Arclight(s).
14. They have upscale shopping in Union Square and Stanford Shopping Center. We have upscale AND downscale shopping everywhere.

So let's stop with the inferiority complex, folks, and learn to appreciate where we live!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hair or Tree Roots? From Meghan Daum at L.A. Times

Here's a great article by L.A. Times' Meghan Daum.  The title above should link; it's in today's paper if not.  My note to Meghan is that if she thinks house pics are getting worse, she should see some of what I see when I visit these homes -- yuk!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

No Lock Box-No Show!

This is a great post from colleague Stephen Munson regarding lockboxes.  I especially like Stephen's timeline.  And Westside agents, I know it's an additional expense, but please get a keypad if you'd like to show homes in the San Fernando Valley -- it will be SO much easier for you to show property there!
No Lock Box-No Show!I can't tell you how crazy it makes me trying to show properties in this market when there is no lock box on the home! In Los Angeles, The West Side is one of the last remain areas that has fallen waaay behind the times in their real estate practice of no-lock boxes. I can understand "high end" or "high profile" properties being an exception to having a lock box installed but please, don't you want to sell the house?
Today's lock boxes are so sophisticated that they track every agent that's been in the home. So if there's an issue, you can call that agent back.
Most of my business is in the San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley so it's not a huge deal here. But I will tell you, if I have a buyer and we are looking at properties, the homes with no lock box are at the back of the line and often not seen. There's just too much too look at an not enough time trying to coordinate schedules with Listing agents and sellers.
I can show 6-7 properties within 2 hours in the valley vs. 2-3 properties in the same time frame on the West Side of LA!
I've asked the agents who refuse to put lock boxes on why they still practice this ancient "no-Lock box" protocol and they tell me they want to be there to "sell" the home. That in itself is almost as deadly as having the seller present at the showings (which happens a lot in these "no-Lock Box " listings). I'm not talking about you of course so don't worry!
Arguments FOR a Lock Box:
  • Make your home/listing as easy as possible to show. If it's easy for the agent, it's easy for that qualified buyer!
  • Often times buyer make only 1 or 2  rounds of showings, make sure yours in that first round!
  • Remember, most lock boxes are very sophisticated and will track all traffic in and out of the home.
  • Easy access is as important as the photos or description of your home.
I do understand the need for "appointments only" in the high end and high profile properties, but please, let's step in into the current decade, get with the program and sell your home/listing now!

Copyright © 2010 By Stephen Munson,Munson Realty –Homes For Sale Pasadena*No Lock Box-No Show!*

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More news about the Burbank Collection

The Burbank Collection, the newer loft-condo development in downtown Burbank, is now offering a $15,000 credit that is no longer sale-date dependent (see post below).  At least at this point.  However, Burbank, California, a local blog (see my blogroll), has a few troubling posts about financing for this development.  I don't quite know what's happening as I'm not up to date on the backstory, but stay tuned for news on this.  In the meantime, immediate closings are available at Burbank Collection and the $15k will just about cover any buyer's closing costs.  Did I mention that prices start at $319,000? That's about half of what they started at when the building was newly completed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The real estate news is bad...or IS it?

By now, everybody knows that the national housing stats released yesterday were pretty dreadful.  Slowest month since whenever, etc., etc.  And yes, I've seen that the market has slowed down this summer (although the end of August is almost always slow).  But wait! Today's Burbank Leader's headline is Local Housing Market Better than Most.  It goes on to detail how Burbank real estate and Glendale real estate sales have actually been pretty good, and how homprices have actually risen year over year.  Not by much, but still...

And then there's another AP article buried deep in today's L.A. Times Business section, titled More Mortgage Modifications Seem to be Sticking.  It goes on to say that this news possibly debunks predictions of a huge wave of defaults to come.

So maybe there is another side to the story.  And if you're thinking about real estate in Studio City, Burbank, Hollywood Hills or pretty much anywhere in greater L.A., keep in mind the other big housing statistic: interest rates are at historic lows.

Friday, August 20, 2010

LA Times is a little behind on their front page news re flippers

Today's L.A. Times headline (in the SFV print edition) is Professionals moving into house flipping.  The reporting is spot-on -- and about six months behind.  I reported in this blog some time ago that I'd observed that the pro's were buying up many/most foreclosures.  And what the article only briefly touches on is that many of these professionals are losing money now in a big way.  Prices aren't soaring, loans (especially on condo projects) aren't easy to get, and many of the flippers didn't research the properties they bought.  But I'm sure most professional flippers have calculated their risks/rewards.

If you're thinking of buying a distressed property, rehabbing it, and selling it for a profit, trust me: it's not as easy as it sounds (I've thought about it myself), and nowhere as "easy" as it looks on HGtv.  Leave it to the pros.

Green Alliance in Burbank will be screening the film "Crude"

Our friends at Burbank's Green Alliance have just sent me this notice:
FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION ON BIG OIL
Film:              Crude – The Real Price of Oil
Synopsis        CRUDE is an award-winning documentary film that chronicles the epic battle to hold oil giant Chevron (formerly Texaco) accountable for its systematic contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon – an environmental tragedy experts call "the Rainforest Chernobyl.
Date:                     Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Time:                    7:00pm – 9:30pm
Location:            Ahmanson Space, Woodbury University 7500 N. Glenoaks Blvd. Burbank, CA
91504
Speakers:            Stefanie Sekich Quinn, Surfrider Foundation HQ and Jack Eidt, Wild Heritage Planners
 Reservations:    $10 Suggested Donation (reservations and donations are not necessary but
always welcome)
RSVP Online:     www.gathergreen.com (or email info@burbankgreenalliance.org)
                Flyer/Invite:      http://tiny.cc/oyos0
                For More Info:  www.burbankgreenalliance.org

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Burbank Collection is doing a big promotion

The Burbank Collection is the mega condo loft project in downtown Burbank, right across from the AMC theaters and above Barney's Beanery.  The sellers are running a promotion which involves a $15,000 rebate and they are cooperating with brokers again -- meaning that they will pay us commissions if we bring a buyer.  (The sellers didn't cooperate for a long time.  Then they did.  Then they didn't.  Not unusual for a new building that's cutting prices in order to sell 100% of the units.) If you're interested in living in downtown Burbank, please contact me.
Update: the Collection is offering a $15,000 credit, not a rebate.  And it's only good for sales on Saturday, August 21.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday reading from Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times

Gretchen Morgenson, the NY Times business columnist, has written an article entitled "In this Play, One Role is Enough."  Link here in case the title above doesn't work.  It details a bill introduced in the U.S. Congress by Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC).  If passed, the bill will help unwind the second mortgage mess that's holding up so many short sales.  Go, Rep. Miller!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Everybody makes mistakes, even title companies and management companies

Long, boring story short and boring: my buyer client has an accepted offer on 1809 Peyton in Burbank, but the condo must "go" FHA in order for him to get a loan.  Fine.  Reams and reams of paperwork need to be submitted to FHA and the condo documents have to be examined in very close detail.  Fine.  But it's been about 60 days now, and the listing agent is really steaming over how long this is taking. Fine, but don't tell him that.

Just yesterday, the FHA folks noticed that the preliminary title report from the title company was wrong -- it had a map of a building down the street. Considering how much title insurance costs and how many people view the title company documents, this is pretty surprising.  And, the building's management company had certified that the complex had 46 units in it when it only has 42.  Nice to know they are collecting the HOA dues in that building.  Aberdeen has made several paperwork mistakes in this transaction, but you'd think they'd at least know how many units are in one project.

So these conditions have now been caught and remedied by the lender at Prospect Mortgage, Dana Dukelow, and his staff.  But the listing agent would still like to kick us out of escrow.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Really nice house in Glendale

Colleagues Laureen and Doyle just listed this beauty at 3028 E. Chevy Chase in Glendale.  We saw it on our office caravan, and it is jaw-droppingly lovely.  It features 3698 square feet and is up against a lush, green hillside.  It is listed at $1,590,000.  Wish I could afford it. 

Btw, although Glendale is known for it's 1920's-1930's Spanish style and Monterey Colonials (not to mention it's 1990's columned palaces), I spotted two Lloyd Wright homes very close to this home -- what a welcome surprise!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Not about San Fernando Valley real estate, but about my two other favorite thing: my husband and cats

Check Wednesday's (we think) Burbank Leader for a Joyce Rudolph-bylined story about The World Is Still Your Litterbox.  This is the sequel to The World is Your Litterbox, the hilarious how-to book dictated to my husband, Steve Fisher, by his cat, Quasi.  And by the way, I'm not the only blogger in the house -- Quasi has his own blog, and probably has more readers than me, damn him.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sellers waiting for prices to rise

The title above links to an article from Wall Street Journal.  It discusses "side-lined" sellers, who want to sell but want to wait for home prices to rise even though they may already have equity.  At this point, since our inventory continues to grow here in the San Fernando Valley, I don't think price rises are likely -- at least not until the beginning of 2011, if then.  Thanks, Kendyl; your "tweet" that alerted me to this article.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Burbank low flow toilet and water saving devices -- new rules from Burbank city council


This week, Burbank city council passed new water saving retrofit requirements.  Burbank will now require low-flow toilets and other water-saving devices in every home, just like the city of L.A..  These will need to be installed when a residence sells or otherwise changes hands.  Here's the article from the Burbank Leader.  On behalf of our clients, we Realtors have opposed this due to the cost, hassle and dubious actual water savings, but see the 2009 video above -- Dave Golonski, for one, did not care what Realtors think.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Short sales in Burbank, Studio City and the east San Fernando Valley: new HAFA program details

I've just posted details about the new Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) program on my website's short sale page. Here's a slightly edited version:


The new HAFA program revamps the short sale market.  In 2009, the Treasury Department introduced the HAFA program to provide a viable short sale option for homeowners who are unable to keep their homes through loan modification -- the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The goal is to reduce the number of foreclosures by incentivizing banks to pursue short sales instead of foreclosures. And yes, the devil will be in the details.
Here are some of the differences between HAFA and the way short sales have been previously handled by lenders and borrowers.
  • Uses borrower financial and hardship information already collected in connection with consideration of a loan modification.  A borrower will no longer have to submit a second package if they have already submitted a complete first package.
  • Allows borrowers to receive pre-approved short sales terms before listing the property (including the minimum acceptable net proceeds).  This is huge for both the borrower and the real estate agent as we’ll now know the minimum the bank will accept.
  • Requires borrowers to be fully released from future liability for the first mortgage debt (no cash contribution, promissory note, or deficiency judgment is allowed).
  • Uses standardized documents, processes and timeframes/deadlines.  There should be no difference now between the way, say, BofA handles a short sale as versus Wells Fargo.
  • Mortgage servicers are required to make a preliminary decision regarding allowing the short sale within 15 days of receiving a borrower’s completed package!  We’ll see if the lenders institute enough internal procedures to guarantee that this holds up.
  • Provides the following financial incentives:
    • $3,000 for borrower relocation assistance;
    • $1,500 for servicers to cover administrative and processing costs;
    • Up to $2,000 for investors who allow a total of up to $6,000 in short sale proceeds to be distributed to subordinate lien holders, on a one-for-three matching basis.  In other words, the Treasury will match one dollar to each two dollars the first mortgagor gives the second mortgagor, up to $6,000.  However, 2nd mortgages are still “the elephant in the room.”
  • Requires loan servicers participating in HAMP (the loan modification program) to implement HAFA in accordance with their own policy and investor guidelines. (Remember, the lender’s main concern is not the borrower.  It is the lender’s investor.) What constitutes investor guidelines? It includes factors like total potential loss, local market conditions, timing of foreclosure actions, etc.
Here are a couple of links that you may find useful:
www.makinghomeaffordable.com/contact_servicer.html.
Home Affordable Foreclosures Alternatives Program: Guidelines and Forms 

Tired of links to outside sites in responses to my posts? Me too.

Ray and Al, this doesn't apply to you.  Lately, I've noticed that I'm getting a lot of responses that just have links to products, services and vendors and don't have anything to do with the post.  Rather than set this blog up to approve all posts beforehand, I'm just going to delete some of the worst offender posts, such as the "Shooting in Burbank" post.  You guys have already read it anyway, right?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Toluca Lake short sale closed!

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may have been following my "how my short sale is going" posts for 10862 Bloomfield #103 in Toluca LakeIT CLOSED! 

Last Monday, Chase, the lender, finally sent the approval letter to me.  It had been a little over 4 and 1/2 months since the short sale package plus offer was submitted to Chase.  While we had verbal approval at the end of May, it just took forever to get Chase's letter -- and you can't close a short sale transaction without having an okay from the lender in writing.  Since the buyer was paying cash, we -- meaning, mostly, the escrow officer -- was able to slam this shut on Friday. (Paying cash is a much faster transaction than getting a loan.)  We had worked in advance with both buyer and seller and had all disclosures and other contractual items reviewed and signed off in June.

A couple of details.  Yes, there were two loans.  Both, however, were with Chase, so Chase just wrote the 2nd off.  The seller/borrower was still current on her HOA payments and mostly current on her taxes, and there were no other outstanding liens against the property.  The seller could definitely prove her hardship, as she was denied a loan modification in 2009 and was laid off this year.  Since I represented both the buyer and seller, the commission was cut in half.  Bah.  But it's closed now and everybody is happy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Open Sunday 2:00 to 5:00: 4552 Morse Ave., Studio City

Beat the heat by checking out my lovely, airconditioned listing at 4552 Morse in Studio City.  We'll be open 2:00 to 5:00 pm.  This is a truly lovely home in a fabulous neighborhood.  More info can be found on my website at JudyGraff.com.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

California real estate tax credits may still be available!

Check this out from Cyberhomes.com's blog: http://www.cyberhomes.com/content/blog/10-07-14/california-home-tax-credit.aspx.  If you've purchased a home in California this year, there may still be time to claim the credit.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New "HAFA" short sale conditions

"HAFA" stands for Home Affordability Foreclosure Alternatives and it's the latest set of short sale rules to come along.  These will be implemented by most loan servicers on August 1, 2010.  We Realtors have been strongly encouraged by our brokerage management to get up to speed on the new rules.  I'm currently on module six of an eight-module webinar.  So far, it certainly looks like the devil with be in the details, but here are two things I know now:
  • Paperwork and timelines will be standardized;
  • The short sale process will be shorter.
I'll have more info as I become more educated.  I'll also be updating my Short Sale and Foreclosure page on my website very soon.