South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 29, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 29, 2015Last week’s economic news was largely positive as both new and existing home sales beat expectations. FHFA reported that home price growth held steady in May, while weekly jobless claims edged up, but were lower than expected.

New and Existing Home Sales Exceed Expectations

According to the Commerce Department, new home sales reached 546,000 on an annual basis for May. This surpassed expectations for 525,000 new homes sold and April’s revised reading of 534,000 new homes sold. Expectations were based on the original reading of 517,000 new homes sold in April.

Existing home sales rose by 5.10 percent in May to a seasonally-adjusted annual reading of 5.35 million sales and hit their highest level in five and a half years. The National Association of Realtors reported that this was the fastest pace of sales for previously-owned homes since November 2009. Expectations were based on an April’s original reading of 5.04 million sales, which was later revised to 5.09 million existing homes sold.

With wages and hiring picking up, more first-time buyers are expected to enter the market. Economists said there are signs that mortgage credit is becoming more available as lenders gain confidence in stronger economic conditions. A larger supply of available homes was also cited as driving sales of previously owned homes higher.

FHFA: Home Prices Show Steady Growth in May; Mortgage Rates Mixed

The Federal Finance Housing Agency (FHFA), the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices related to mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady with a growth rate of 5.30 percent year-over-year reported in May. This was the same year-over-year home price growth rate that the agency posted in April.

Freddie Mac reported mixed developments for mortgage rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 4.02 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.21 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also fell by two basis points to 2.98 percent. Average discount points were 0.70, 0.60 and 0.40 percent respectively.

Last week’s economic reports ended on a high note with June’s Consumer Sentiment Index reporting a reading of 96.1 as compared to expectations of 94.6 and May’s reading of 94.6. All in all, last week’s economic news provided further indications of stronger economic conditions that should provide the confidence to ease mortgage credit requirements and enable more first-time buyers to purchase homes.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include date on pending home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports and construction spending. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will also release the monthly Non-Farm Payrolls report and National Unemployment reports. No economic news is scheduled for Friday, July 3 due to the Independence Day holiday.

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3 Reasons Why Setting Your Listing Price is the Most Important Aspect of the Home Sales Process

Three Reasons Why Setting Your Listing Price is the Most Important Aspect of the Home Sales ProcessHave you decided to sell your home, perhaps to make an upgrade to a newer, larger house? Whatever your reasons for selling, you’ll have a number of decisions to make as you craft your listing and begin receiving offers from buyers but few are as important as your initial selling price.

Let’s take a look at three reasons why setting your listing price is the most important factor in your home sale.

Reason #1: You Can Scare Off Potential Buyers With A High Price

You’ll receive the majority of your buyer interest in the first few days and weeks after you place your home up for sale, so it’s critical that your price isn’t set so high that it scares a number of buyers off.

While some sellers believe that it’s better to price high and let buyers submit lower offers, this can actually work against you. It’s better to have your home priced fairly from the beginning as you can always refuse offers that you deem are too low.

Reason #2: Your Price Directly Impacts How Long Your Sale Will Take

If you’re interested in seeing your home sell quickly it’s going to be in your best interest to have it priced competitively. Buyers will be shopping around for similar homes in your community and if there are other listings with lower prices on the market you may find it takes you a while to get your home sold.

Also, if you do find a buyer who is interested they’ll likely try to haggle with you, which can extend the length of the sale by a week or more as you go back and forth to reach an agreement.

Reason #3: A Low Price Means Leaving Money On The Table

While pricing too high can cause issues with your sale, pricing your home too low isn’t going to benefit you either. While you’ll likely find that you receive a high number of offers very quickly, you’ll end up leaving some of your home equity on the table – equity that you could easily have realized as buyers would have been willing to pay the difference. That’s a good reason for choosing a Realtor with an excellent track record of obtaining top dollar sales prices on his or her listings, in the shortest amount of time possible.

In these parts – South Orange County, in Southern California, such a Realtor is Bob Phillips, of Realty One Group. Call Bob today at (949) 887-5305, or email to BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com.

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Sellers, Beware: Five Reasons You Might Not Get Top Dollar when You Sell Your Home (And How to Avoid Them)

Sellers, Beware: Five Reasons You Might Not Get Top Dollar when You Sell Your Home (And How to Avoid Them)For most people, their home is their largest asset, so they want to maximize that asset by getting top dollar when they sell. Here are a few reasons you might not get top dollar when you sell – and how to avoid them!

Selling At The Wrong Time

From early spring to late summer is home-buying season for most people, especially those with children. Putting your house on the market during this period is when you are likely to get top dollar for it. Early fall is also a good time to list your home. Winter – especially December – is the worst time to list. If you list your home outside of prime selling season, you are likely to get less for it than you could have otherwise.

Not Staging Your Home Properly

Many people think of staging as simply rearranging the furniture or changing curtains, but there is so much more to it, and not doing it properly can mean less money for your home. To stage your home properly, you must declutter, putting knick-knacks and family pictures away. You also want to make sure your home is as clean as possible and that you correct any defects such as holes in the wall or cracked window panes. Another thing you should do as part of your staging routine is to paint your walls in neutral colors and update cabinet hardware and light fixtures that are out of date. These little changes can make a big difference.

Not Paying Attention To Curb Appeal

You can spend all the time and money necessary to spruce up the inside of your home, but if your lawn is a patch of dirt and your gutters are falling down, all that work and money can go for naught. To get top dollar for your home, you need to improve your curb appeal. This includes seeding or sodding bare spots in your lawn, trimming trees and shrubbery and fixing up home-related items such as broken concrete and sagging gutters.

Not Getting The Price Right

You might think that to get the highest price out of your house, you have to price it high. However, that’s not necessarily always the case. If you price your house too high, it can make other similar houses that are priced lower look like better deals. You should make sure to pay close attention to what comparable homes are selling for in the area and price your home accordingly.

Not Working With A Real Estate Agent

Many people think they can save a bundle selling their home by not working with a real estate agent. While you might save on the real estate commission, that is probably not the case, since your potential buyer is wanting to save that same commission.  So, at best you’re likely only saving HALF the commission.  Also, if you’re thinking that the commission is going to be 6%, you’re probably wrong there, as well.  Many agents, like me, are willing to offer a substantial discount to a seller – frequently, as low as 1% to 2% on the seller’s side, ( Depending on the price range.) while offering 2.5% to the buyer’s side of the transaction.  You can quickly lose more than that 3.5% to 4.5% – that the buyer expects at least 2.5% of – by making mistakes in pricing and marketing.

A real estate agent will have access to resources you don’t, such as information on buyers looking in your neighborhood. An agent will market your home, make sure it is priced accordingly and set up showings. It is worth your time and money to call an agent experienced in selling homes in your neighborhood who can give you a free market evaluation.

In South Orange County, that agent is Bob Phillips, with over 38 years of local, professional real estate service.  Why not give me a call or text today, at             949-887-5305, or shoot me an email to BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com.  I’d love to talk with you about your real estate plans.

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National Association of REALTORS: Existing Home Sales Exceed Projections

sold-homeIn Tuesday’s post I focused on our local – Orange County, California – housing market. Today I have news about   the National housing market. It looks better than most pundits anticipated. It’s not great, but it’s not bad, either.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, existing home sales surpassed both May sales and expectations for June. Sales of previously owned homes increased by 2.60 percent in June and reached a seasonally adjusted annual level of 5.04 million sales. June’s reading was the third consecutive monthly increase  in sales of existing homes and was the highest reading for existing home sales in eight months. Existing home   sales remain 2.30 percent below the June 2013 reading of 5.16 million sales of existing homes.

Analysts projected sales of 5 million existing homes for June against May’s initial reading of 4.89 million sales of previously owned homes; the May reading was later revised to 4.91 million sales. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® said that market conditions are becoming “more balanced,” and    noted that inventories of existing homes are at their highest level in over a year and that price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels in many parts of the country.

Housing Market Headwinds Declining

After a particularly harsh winter and lagging labor reports, analysts forecasted lower annual sales of existing homes for 2014 than for 2013. Labor markets are stronger according to recent labor market reports and a declining national unemployment rate. Steady work is an important factor for families considering a home purchase; as labor markets improve, more would-be homeowners are expected to become active buyers.

Housing markets are not without challenges. In recent unrelated reports, the Federal Reserve has noted higher than anticipated inflation may cause the Fed to raise its target Federal Funds rate in the next several months. Gas and food prices, important components of consumers’ household budgets continue to rise and could slow save toward a home for some families. Steve Brown, president of the National Association of REALTORS®, said that first-time and moderate income buyers continue to deal with affordability due to increased FHA costs and tight mortgage credit. Relief may be in sight as a slower pace of home price growth suggests that more buyers may be able to afford homes.

FHFA House Price Index Reports Gain in May Home Sales

FHFA released its May index of home sales connected with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The index posted a month-to-month gain of 0.40 percent in May and a year-over-year gain of 5.90 percent year-over-year. FHFA said that increased sales were driven by a 9/60 percent increase in sales in the Pacific region and that average home prices remain 6.50 percent below April 2007.

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Giving and Getting: Why the Terms of a Home’s Sale Are Frequently More Important Than the Price Paid

Giving and Getting: Why the Terms of a Home's Sale Are Far More Important Than the Price PaidOne of the most significant factors home buyers and sellers focus on when buying real estate is the negotiated sales price in the purchase contract. While the sales price is undeniably important, the reality is that other terms in the sales contract may have more far-reaching and significant effects on the transaction.

In fact, with a closer look at some of the most important terms, you will see why you and your agent should actively negotiate for improved terms rather than a lower sales price.

Closing Costs

Some buyers and sellers will haggle over a few thousand dollars in the sales price without paying attention to the closing costs, but the fact is that the closing costs for a typical transaction may cost the buyer between two to five percent of the sales price on average.

A sales contract may be negotiated so that the seller assumes some or most of the closing costs, and this can result in considerable savings the buyer. Likewise, when a contract is negotiated in the interest of the seller, the seller may save thousands of dollars at closing if the contract states that the buyer is responsible for these costs.

The Appraised Value

In an ideal world, a home would appraise for the contracted sales price, but this is not always the case. A sales contract may be written with terms that allow for the sales price to be renegotiated after the appraised value is confirmed, and this may benefit both parties. Some sales contracts, however, state that the negotiated sales price is final regardless of the appraised value.

The Property Inspection

Many home buyers opt to obtain a property inspection to determine if there are hidden issues with the property structure, foundation, roof, air quality and other components. Some inspections reveal that a home is in fairly good condition, but others may reveal that a property needs thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs.

Some sales contracts may be written so that the buyer may back out of a contract within a certain period of time after receiving the property inspection report or so that the terms of the sales contract may be renegotiated once the property inspection report has been completed.

Special Contingencies

A real estate transaction may extend for several weeks or even months while the buyer contracts with a lender, an appraiser, a property inspector and other third parties. During this period of time, many events can occur that may adjust the interest level or even the ability of the buyer and seller to fulfill the contract.

Some sales contracts are written so that the buyer may opt out of the contract within a certain period of time with minimal expense and regardless of other factors related to the appraisal and inspection. ( In California, there is usually an initial 17 day period during which a buyer can withdraw for no stated reason.)

Generally, there are standard terms found in many real estate sales contracts, but these terms can be adjusted by either party to benefit buyers or sellers. Those who are preparing to buy or sell property should actively communicate their needs and desires with their real estate agent so that the contract may be negotiated with terms most favorable to their needs.

In 37+ Years of Local Experience, I have Seen Almost Every Possible Type of Scenario.

Whether you are buying, selling, or leasing, it is important to have an experienced agent negotiating at your side.  You would have to look far and wide to find a more experienced real estate agent in South Orange County.  Give me a call or a text, at (949) 887-5305, or shoot me an email at BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com, and let’s talk about your real estate goals.

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Help Your Home Office Shine When Selling Your Property

Posted in Around The Home by southorangecounty on February 1, 2013

Home officeWith telecommuting continuing to rise, and with more jobs requiring after-hours attention, showcasing your home’s “home office” can help it show better with a prospective home buyer. 

It’s wise to have your kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms show well, but a great-looking home office can make a huge impact and help you sell your home more quickly.

Here are a few tips to helping your home office shine :

Designate The Right Space
Whether it’s a spare bedroom or a computer nook, specify a separate place at which business is done. Make sure the area has enough room to set up a desk, a chair, a computer and a printer without making it look messy or cramped. 

Clean The Area
A clean and orderly home office shows better than a messy one. To help your home office look its best to potential buyers, get rid of clutter and only retain the essentials. Use drawers and shelves effectively.

Don’t Waste Money
Don’t break the bank in furnishing your home office. Consider ready-to-assemble furniture as an inexpensive, good-looking option. Buy the necessities, then use leftover, budgeted funds for office supplies such as computer paper, pens, and a cork board, for example.

Add A Decorative Touch
Once your home office is properly outfitted, add some decorative style. Hang artwork. Add a few plants. But, remember to keep it simple and neutral so that potential buyers can easily imagine the space as their own home office.

Few people think of the importance of a home office when preparing their South Orange County home for sale. But, because so many people work from home these days, a dedicated home office space can be a great selling point.

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Tips For Selling Your Home In The Colder, Darker, Winter Months

Posted in Around The Home, Existing Home Sales, Home Selling, Home Values, Real estate by southorangecounty on January 22, 2013

Real estate agents in colder climates will tell you that it can be harder to sell a home in the winter. The days are colder and shorter, leaving less time to show a home to potential buyers.

The good news, though, is that most buyers looking at houses in the winter aren’t just killing time. They’re serious enough about finding a new home to house hunt at a time when most people might rather stay inside.

There are a several steps you can take to make a good impression on home buyers this winter, even in Southern California.

First, if it a rainy day, be sure to place a mat on which for visitors to wipe their feet.

Second, warm up the house, to 68-70 degrees. Buyers will remember the house that was comfortable on a frigid day. This also demonstrates to buyers that your furnace is in good working order.

Next, to make a “welcoming scent”, bake cookies the day of the showing. Some people are sensitive to the fragrances in air fresheners and perfumes, so skip spraying those when expecting someone to look at your house.

You can also serve snacks in the kitchen. Give the buyer a reason to linger in your home by leaving a light snack in the kitchen. ( Those cookies you baked?)

Lastly, to make your house appear warm and inviting during darker winter months, turn all the lights in the house on; place warm-toned throws and decorator pillows around the living room. Play soothing classical or jazz music; keep the volume low enough that buyers can talk quietly to each other.

These techniques each can help your home seem more inviting this winter.

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Simple Fixes To Help Your Home Sell More Quickly

Posted in Around The Home by southorangecounty on January 18, 2013

For sale signIf one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to sell your South Orange County home, there are a few simple steps you can take to help prepare it for showings.

With a prospective buyer in mind, take a tour of your home, making a list of the good, the bad, and the not-so-bad. You may spot areas in need of major renovation; and areas which could benefit from just a basic touch-up.

It’s these latter areas which will likely yield the biggest return on your investment so, in preparation for making your home “buyer ready”, consider these steps.

Landscaping
The first thing a buyer will notice is the outside of your home. Sometimes called “curb appeal”, first impressions are very important to the sale of your home. Therefore, be sure to trim bushes, rake leaves, and clean up the yard in order to make your house seem more inviting. Clear unnecessary clutter from the yard and walkway to your home.

Bedrooms
Paint the walls of the room a light, neutral color to “open up” the space. Replace old light fixtures with new modern ones; replace all old bulbs; and consider adding a ceiling fan to each bedroom. This can increase the room’s appeal. 

Bathrooms 
If your tub has seen better days, have it resurfaced. Remove mildew stains in, or around, baths and showers. Replace stained silicone seal and grout, where needed. Check all light fixtures for burned out bulbs. Add lighting, if necessary, to make the bathroom brighter.

Kitchen
Your kitchen might also benefit from sprucing up. Do not gut-renovate your kitchen. Rather, refinish or paint its cabinets. Install new, clean-looking handles. Add a new back splash, if you think it will help. 

You’ll spend a small sum to make these improvements but the rewards can be more home showings, which can lead to more home offers, which can help you get the price you want for your property.

Your home may also sell more quickly.

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Selling? Improve The Appearance Of Your Home’s Bathrooms.

Posted in Around The Home by southorangecounty on January 15, 2013

Bathroom remodel tipsFull-scale bathroom remodeling can be expensive and, in today’s South Orange County housing market, you won’t likely get all of the money back that you put into it at the time of sale.

Knowing that bathroom projects tend to have a low return on investment, therefore, here are a few inexpensive changes which you can make to spruce up bathrooms in a home for sale.

Fixtures
Most sellers will notice if the fixtures in a bathroom are old, and it can have a negative effect on their view of your home. Buy a new set of bathroom fixtures at a home improvement store. Most stores have matching towel racks and bathroom tissue holders, too. There is a wide selection of stainless steel, wood or ceramic fixtures available at most stores, too.

Paint
A fresh coat of paint is a simple way to improve the overall look of a bathroom. Choose paints with a light, neutral color to make the room seem more spacious.

Floors
If your bathroom floor has tiles, it’s a good idea to add fresh grout to brighten up the bathroom’s overall look, or, at least, to clean the grout so that it looks like new. Scratched linoleum should also be replaced. There is plenty of inexpensive flooring which is easy to install, in a variety of patterns and colors at your local hardware or flooring store.

De-Clutter
Prospective buyers should be able to imagine themselves living in your home. It’s easier for them to do that when your home is free of clutter. This is even true in the bathroom. Clear out your medicine cabinet. (Yes, many buyers will look in there.) Leave only the essentials such as toothpaste and hairbrushes.

Making a good impression on your prospective buyers can be easier when you’ve redone a bathroom.  It doesn’t require much money, and it may increase the final sale price of home.

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Simple Real Estate Definitions : Home Inspection

Posted in Real Estate Definitions by southorangecounty on June 6, 2012

Get a home inspectionWhen you preview homes as a home buyer, you can get a good feel for the home’s visible traits — its finishes, its room counts, and its landscaping, for example. What you can’t get a feel for, though, is the home’s “bones”.

It’s for this reason that real estate professionals recommend that you have a property formally inspected immediately after going into contract for it.

A home inspection is a thorough, top-to-bottom check-up of a property’s structure and systems. It is not the same as a home appraisal, which is a valuation of the property. By contrast, home inspections are an objective report on a home’s physical condition.

Home inspections are performed by home inspectors who will typically do the following :

  • Check heating and cooling systems for leaks and efficiency
  • Check electrical systems for safety and soundness of design
  • Check plumbing systems for venting, distribution, and drainage

In addition, a home inspector will review a home’s roofing system; its doors, windows and garages; plus, any attic spaces and basements, where appropriate.

A home inspection may also uncover out-of-code electrical work that municipalities required to be fixed by law.

Meanwhile, it’s not just home buyers who can order inspections. Sellers can order them, too.

One recommended tactic is for a home seller to have the home inspected prior to listing for sale so that all required repairs can be made in advance of showing the home. This can speed up and simplify the sales process, and may help your home sell at a higher price. Buyers often prefer homes in “move-in” ready condition.

A thorough home inspection can take up to 6 hours to complete, depending on the size of the home.

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