real estate: International Buyers are Loving California - 09/10/12 06:39 AM
In a new report from NAR (okay, it was in May), they state that international buyers of US real estate properties have increased 24% over the past 12 months.
Pretty incredible, and an interesting picture of our economy and just how much international consumers are having an impact on the real estate business.
In the report, I noticed that of the top 10 cities international consumers are searching for, 6 were either in California or Florida (3 each).  What's most interesting is that those are the two states hit the hardest when the real estate bubble burst.
The leading foreclosure states.
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real estate: Spring Cleaning Checklist For You - 05/22/12 01:59 AM
It's not too late to do your spring cleaning if you haven't already.  Many people get so busy that it's summer by the time they get to it.  If that's the case with you, here is a handy checklist to help you get it done.
Kitchen:
Dust and vacuum your refridgerator coils - This can not only save you money by your fridge running more efficiently, it can also years to the life of your refridgerator.
Defrost freezer and/or deep freeze - I know, I know.  Many people dread doing this, but it's good for keeping tabs on what you have … (1 comments)

real estate: Home Market Time At Lowest Point In 7 Years In The O.C. - 05/01/12 03:45 AM
It's been fascinating to watch the ups and downs of the slow recovery of our real estate market in Orange County and, as I stated numerous times last year, we're not there yet and we still have a ways to go.
Good news does keep trickling in, however, and the latest report by Jon Lansner in the Orange County Register shows demand for homes in the O.C. at its highest point in 7 years!  Current records show that on the average homes in Orange County are taking 4 fewer days to sell.  As of the end of April, Steve Thomas of ReportsOnHousing.com says … (0 comments)

real estate: Finding the Right Neighborhood for You and Your Family - 02/14/12 07:11 AM
 
One of the most important considerations in planning your move is to find the right neighborhood for you and your family. Beyond the practicalities and aesthetics of your new home, there are important points to consider about the area you're looking at possibly moving to. Here is a checklist of 12 points to consider: How close is it to your place(s) of employment, entertainment and shopping for your needs. How close is it to a hospital and medical facilities? Are there more homeowners than renters? Are there quality schools with high standards?  Is there daycare available close by?  Is there … (0 comments)

real estate: Orange County Foreclosures at Lowest Point in nearly 2 years - 02/07/12 08:18 AM
The number of foreclosures in Orange County continues to drop and over the past two weeks we have reached our lowest total of foreclosures countywide since June of 2010...nearly 2 years!
What this means to you as a home buyer is that there will be fewer and fewer of these deals available as experts predict that 2012 will be a year of foreclosures being a hot commodity with an expected market availability time of only 1.1 months.  In plain English, they will go fast and you will lose out if you wait too long.
Short sales have reached their lowest point … (0 comments)

real estate: 2012 Housing and Mortgage Predictions...and Tug Of War - 01/24/12 06:49 AM
A business associate of mine, Robert E. Toffel from USA National Title, shared his article with me concerning the usual beginning-of-the-year predictions that are surfacing in the real estate world.
If there's anything to be learned here it's 1) improvement has been predicted, 2) decline has been predicted and 3) since both improvement and decline have been predicted, it's best to make educated decisions to take care of your own real estate needs.  You can find opinions to back any side of the equation, so focus on your needs and the best way to handle them.
That being said, here is … (0 comments)

real estate: New Year's Checklist For Home Buyers - 01/06/12 02:53 AM
It's 2012...a new year with new opportunities for us all.  If you're on the market to buy a home, make your New Year's Resolution to be prepared for the process of buying a home.
Here is a checklist to help you along and eliminate some of the potential headaches along the way:
Get Pre Approved For Your Mortgage - This really goes without saying, but there are still many people who don't do this beforehand and it just adds time to an already lengthy process.
Work With A Realtor - Hey, what would you expect me to say?  Seriously, though, the real … (2 comments)

real estate: Down Payments - More Important Than Ever Heading into 2012 - 12/30/11 02:12 AM
Especially in today's economic climate, the amount of your downpayment has never been more important.  There are many aspects of the real estate transaction process which can be major roadblocks if you're not prepared.
The most challenging part of buying a home can be coming up with an acceptable down payment, unless you have equity built up in your current home.  The amount of your down payment really determines how much home you can afford and how much you can be pre-approved to borrow.
Down payment money can come from:
1) Equity in your current home
2) Other asset equity
3) … (2 comments)

real estate: Are You Missing Out On Tax Benefits You're Entitled To? - 12/27/11 05:14 AM
The new year is almost here, and soon after that we'll be heading into tax season.  Most people look at March and April as tax season, but the sooner you dive in the sooner you can finish...and the more likely you are to not miss out on any potential tax benefits you're entitled to because you're not waiting until the last minute:)
Here are some of the most commonly overlooked benefits:
1) Support for Relatives:  Housing or financial support for a relative may make you eligible for a more favorable head-of-household status.  Alternately, you might be able to simply claim them … (0 comments)

real estate: How to Make the Best Use of Your Home Office Space - 12/09/11 02:41 AM
More people are working from home now than ever before. More and more people are dedicating areas in their homes to be used as full-time home offices. Whatever the size, here are some tips for maximum efficiency in designing and equipping your home office: 1. Be organized. Make the most your home office space by using uniformly sized storage containers to store important papers and office supplies. The uniform size will be a better fit in your office space and eliminate most wasted space.
2. Ergonomic chairs and wrist pads help prevent carpel tunnel syndrome, as typing has become more common … (2 comments)

real estate: Safety and Security After the Sale - 10/11/11 06:00 AM
So, your move is over and you have unpacked the many boxes and are arranging furniture and such. Now is a great time to do a safety and security check of your new home.
Here's a checklist to get you started:
Check your home for loose floorboards and/or tiles
Check the smoke alarms. Are there smoke alarms on each floor? Put fresh batteries in each smoke alarm when you move in.
Check all handrails. Are they secure and sturdy?
Put all of your transaction records in a safe place where you can easily access them for tax time, etc. These records … (2 comments)

real estate: Homebuilding On The Rise? Not Quite What You Think... - 10/07/11 07:47 AM
Recently, I wrote about how apartment rents are on the rise in the Orange County and Beach Areas and that experts are projecting this to be the case for the next 5 years or so. Reports are coming out now that new home construction is up exponentially from last year, which is true; however, as you will see that report on its surface can be a little misleading.
New home permits in Orange County are up 73.7% from the same period last year. That's 3,901 housing units...at a value of $694 million dollars, which is 38.3% higher that the same period … (0 comments)

real estate: "Supply and Demand" or "Greed and Need"? - 09/21/11 01:50 AM
There was an article at the end of July in the Orange County Register that I'm revisiting because it's the completion of a circular chain reaction that is important to understand whether you're currently a Beach Areas home buyer, a home seller or are a home owner wanting to keep up with the market climate.
The article is titled "Apartment Rents To Rise For Many Years" and features an interview with the CEO of Steadfast Cos. in Irvine.  The article approaches the subject of rising rents in the face of only modest employment growth.  In response to the question of what … (1 comments)

real estate: Recommended Reading For Homebuyers - 09/07/11 05:30 AM
Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or just haven’t gone through the buying process in a long time and want to get current (or if you just love reading books about real estate), here’s a list of reading that I think you will find very helpful in the process:)
10 Minute Guide to Buying and Selling Your Home (10 Minute Guides)
This book covers it all efficiently, from price to strategy to the big one for both buyer/seller and agent – preventing and avoiding last-minute problems at the closing table.
10 Steps to Home Ownership: A Workbook for First-Time Buyers
Author … (3 comments)

real estate: Home Buying On The Rise Again In Orange County - 09/02/11 03:43 AM
Signs are pointing to a rise in homebuying in Orange County and an end to the slump we've experienced in 12 of the past 13 months. Two recent articles in the Orange County Register present some encouraging statistics as well as some points to keep in mind for both buyers and sellers.
Here are some highlights:
2,593 homes closed in the latest period, up 1.7% from a year ago.
Median selling price for homes is down 0.7% from a year ago ($437,000)
Sales are up 1.7% for the county
15 Orange County zip codes had an increase in sales and prices … (1 comments)

real estate: Simple Tips For a Quick Home Sale - 08/23/11 04:45 AM
 
I know, I know.  In today's real estate market the terms "quick" and "home sale" seem to be mutually exclusive, but there are some simple things you can do to help speed up the sale process.
Always keep the mindset that your home is going to be competing with new construction.  Even if there's not a lot of new construction in your area, this mindset will help you maintain a higher standard for showing and eliminate a lot of needless hassle.
The holidays are approaching, which arguably is the most competitive time of the year when it comes to pure … (0 comments)

real estate: 9 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe While You're Away - 08/17/11 06:25 AM

Some people are preparing for their summer vacation getaway before the summer is over. Some people are already preparing for going away to visit family or friends during Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hannukah, etc.

Before you go away for any vacation, make sure you've made proper preparations for security while you're gone. An empty house, condo or apartment can be a tempting target for burglars. These pre-vacation/weekend getaway tips will help you rest easier while you're away:

Install sturdy and secure locks on all of your outside doors and windows.
Make your home look as lived-in as possible while … (5 comments)

real estate: Death, Taxes and Loan (Dis)Approval - 08/15/11 04:14 AM
There are 3 things that are certain in this life:  death, taxes and the fact that there are more and more "surprises" as you get closer to the closing table in buying a house.  A good friend of mine has a relative who just sold their house...and the closing was delayed because the buyers' were here on student visas.  And they had expired months before.   Delays can happen, and there are factors that you're not in control of in the real estate process.  Make sure you have your own factors in order so as to avoid your own enexpected "surprises." … (1 comments)

real estate: Mortgage Relief for the Unemployed - New and Actually Improved - 08/04/11 05:29 AM
As of August 1st, HUD is putting into action a revamped version of last year's Home Affordable Unemployment Program. In that program, unemployed homeowners could get a three-month forbearance on their mortgage payments while they looked for a job.
Unfortunately, the program was not a resounding success. Only 10,000 of the 13 million unemployed in the country qualified for the aid, which was a three month forbearance...not much when you consider that nearly half of those who are unemployed have been unemployed for at least 6 months.
The new and improved version of the program significantly increases the three months to … (0 comments)

real estate: FMAC, FNMA, QRM...OMG! - 07/24/11 09:32 AM
In my recent newsletter, I wrote about the proposed shoring up of FMAC and FNMA (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) by politicians in Washington. These are basicaly the two agencies that insure home loans. This “shoring up” process will start this coming September 30thwith a measure that will result in borrowers being required to pay increased interest rates for loans over $625k.
The issue that's getting the most attention in the news, though, is the Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) proposal that will require a 20% minimum down payment on ALL real estate purchases. Of course, there will be exceptions, but they're … (3 comments)

 
Ann Stefanucci (First Team Real Estate Inc.)

Ann Stefanucci

Huntington Beach, CA

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