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Why Is The Town Purple?

If you drive around town at all this weekend, you are going to see a lot of purple on buildings and even on people. What is going on? Well, it’s the annual “Paint Our Town Purple Weekend!” This purple-fest is a celebration to get the word out about the upcoming American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life to be held June 1st and 2nd at Liberty High School in Brentwood.

You’ll see flags flying, business store fronts decorated, personal residences decorated and lots of purple t-shirts. Feel free to join in! For more ideas about how you can join in, go to www.relayforlife.org/brentwoodca. The website lists creative ways you can display the color purple in support of Relay For Life.

While you are on that website, be sure to poke around to learn more about Relay. While raising funds for cancer research is a big part of Relay, it is also an important way for us to support those who are currently fighting cancer, have survived cancer, or to honor those we have lost due to cancer. I’ll bet that everyone reading this has been touched by cancer in some way in your life through a close friend or relative, or even yourself.

If you’d like to donate money to support this event, you can also do so at the website link I’ve given you above. You can even take it up a step and form your own team to be a part of this great day. Or just plan on coming out to LibertyHigh School in June to see what all the fuss is about! There were be events happening nearly every hour of the day for 24 hours including vendors, bands, family-friendly movies and more! Some families even camp out overnight. Check the website or contact me if you have any questions.

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

Buyers Have To Qualify

The sweeping Dodd-Frank legislation of 2010 is resulting in some new rule changes that are supposed to go into effect this year for certain lenders. Among them is a requirement that the lender HAS to verify that the borrower has the financial ability to repay the loan (gasp!). I know this sounds like a radical idea, and actually, it kind of is.

During the “go-go” years when the real estate bubble was forming, lenders were more concerned about making loans than making “good” loans. The more loans they could make, and the faster they could make them, the more they were rewarded. And on the flip-side, if they didn’t make enough loans, they were penalized and vilified publicly by politicians for” holding people back” from buying homes. They would verify almost NOTHING and let the borrower “state” what income they made. And when that wasn’t enough, they’d get “creative” with the loan by using adjustable-rates, interest-only payments, negative-amortization payments (where your balance goes UP each month), etc. and who cares if the borrower can’t afford the payments? The lender was just going to sell the loan to an investor on Wall Street, so they didn’t care if the borrower could pay or not. I’ve come across several people who got loans where the mortgage payment was as much as their monthly gross income

Well, all that has changed and now most lenders have to verify everything, and they can only make the loan if the borrower can indeed handle making the principal and interest payments. This means that even if you could find a lender that wanted to give you one of those “toxic” loans (interest-only ARM with neg-am), they would STILL have to calculate your debt ratio based on the plain-vanilla 30 year fixed-rate, principal-reducing payment. This is a good move for the long-term stability of our market, but it could put a cap on what buyers can buy if prices increase but income doesn’t rise to meet it and/or if interest rates rise.

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

Locate My School

I just found something “new” that is really cool…. I put “new” in quotes because this may actually be several years old, but I just stumbled across it! One of the drawbacks to being in this industry as long as I have is that I get used to doing something the “old” way so I have ingrained habits that are hard to break. When I first started in real estate and someone used to ask me what school boundary a particular home was in, I struggled to answer their question. At that time, the school boundary maps were closely-guarded secrets (at least, that’s what it felt like…) Eventually I was able to obtain some black and white copies of the maps smuggled out of the District office, and my clients and I would do our best to figure out the boundaries. Most of the maps just had the major streets on them, so when a home was near the boundary, it was tough to find out exactly which school it fed. I would need to update my maps from time to time because the school boundaries would change from time to time. Then a few years ago the District started posted color maps on their website, so that was a big step forward

But I just found out that the Brentwood elementary and the Liberty Union high school districts have tools on their websites where you can actually plug in an address, and it will spit out what schools are assigned to that address! Go to www.brentwood.k12.ca.us or www.libertyunion.schoolwires.net then look for the links that say, “Find my school.

By the way, just because a home is in a certain school boundary does NOT guarantee that a resident child will attend that school. That class may be over-crowded so they may go to another school until the crowding issue is resolved. So if attending a certain school is of paramount importance to you, be sure to contact the District office, and/or the school itself.

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

Interest Rates

Most everyone I talk to think that interest rates and home prices move in opposite directions, that when rates go up, house prices go down. Historically, this hasn’t been true at all (at least, not in my lifetime). Interest rates skyrocketed in the 70’s, but home prices in California went UP. Then in the 90’s and again from 2007-2012, rates plummeted and home prices did, too. So what gives? Does this mean that interest rates move in tandem with house prices? I don’t think so. In fact, I think that we will likely see a return to the idea of interest rates and house prices moving in opposite directions.

Let’s look at what happened over the past few “bubbles” in California real estate. When house prices moved beyond what was “affordable” for buyers, the lenders just tweaked how they approved loans to let buyers qualify for a bigger mortgage, and that allowed the bubble to continue to grow. So it didn’t matter that interest rates were rising, because the lenders were coming up with creative solutions that overcame that issue. Stated-income, verify-nothing, interest-only, teaser-rate, negative amortization loans were all used to keep buyers buying homes at every-increasing prices even while interest rates climbed higher.

But now, that’s all changed. Rules are going into place right now where buyers have to qualify to repay the principal and interest payment. There are caps on what debt-ratios the lenders can use. This means that the next time that interest rates rise, it WILL have a big impact on how much of a loan a borrower can qualify for. So this means our real estate market will likely be MUCH more interest-rate sensitive than it has been in the recent past. This could mean that the next time that interest rates go up, we’ll finally see home prices level off or even retreat in response. That is, unless household income takes a big jump at the same time, which could negate the negative impact of rising interest rates.

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

Keep Trying Keep Your Home

In one of my kids’ Winnie the Pooh books, Pooh is encouraged to “try, try again” when faced with an obstacle. That is sage advice, and I’m going to urge some of you to “try, try again” with the “Keep Your Home California” program.

This is a program that the State of California created in response to a large amount of money they received from the Federal Government as part of the “Hardest Hit Fund.” When it was first released, only a few lenders were participating, and the qualifications were strict. Since then, more and more lenders have come on board, to where there are now roughly 100 lenders and loan servicers participating. This means that if you called before and were disappointed that your lender wasn’t participating, you should call back, because the odds are VERY good now that they now ARE!

And on top of all that, there have been some recent changes to the PRINCIPAL REDUCTION program that are very interesting. In the past, Keep Your Home California would match $1 for every $1 that your lender dropped your balance. That appears to be changing now, to where nearly all of the principal reduction money is coming from Keep Your Home California and not your lender, so lenders are obviously much more interested in that program all of a sudden! It’s basically free money to them (thanks, taxpayers!).

They have several programs to choose from: from money to help you catch up on your payments, principal reductions, relocation assistance, etc. So check in with them if you need some help with your mortgage. For more info, call 888-954-KEEP(5337) from 7 A.M. and 7 P.M. Mon-Friday, and 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. on Saturdays. Or check out their website at www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org. Their website is now interactive so you can find out online instantly if you may qualify for any of their programs.

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

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  • 320 Fairview Ave.
  • Brentwood CA 94513
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