A Cinderella Story – Fredric and Heather

When it came time to sell their first home Fredric and Heather called the Realtor who helped them their first go around – Susan Caton. By then, Susan and I (Sabrina) had partnered up and became The Caton Team.  It was an exciting meeting, sitting around the dinning room table planing for the sale of their home and discussing the hopes, dreams and reality of their next home.
In the competitive Bay Area real estate market a buyer needs to be ready to make a fantastic offer the moment a home pops on the market.  If a buyer has to sell their current home – writing an offer contingent on the sale of a home is not as attractive to the seller as a non-contingent offer.  Therefore, we agreed that the best course of action was to sell their current home to be prepared to pounce when their next home came on the market.
This can be a scary moment – where will the family live if we don’t find the next home.  Nonetheless, the hunt for their next home began way before the for sale sign showed up in their front yard.
So Heather and Fredric did a fantastic job getting their home ready for sale.  Before our first open house The Caton Team had wind of interested parties.  Within a week their home was in contract.  Oh my!
So the serious house hunting hits.  We’re out day and night checking out everything on the market, new and old…and we start writing offers.  Good offers, solid offers.  But we keep getting out bid, sometimes by all cash, sometimes just larger down payments or out of the the ballpark offers.  Regardless, the sweat starts beading.  Now we’re talking short term rentals as the close of escrow on their current home slowly approaches….and we are very thankful for the 30-days of rent back we negotiated to give us a little more time.  That was extremely helpful, but not enough.  So, a short term rental was located.  More offers.  Out bid.
Suddenly there is buzz around a certain Silicon Valley IPO.  The weeks leading up caused a mini boom on the peninsula.  Offer dates, multiple offers, no contingencies, all cash – you name it – things were a bit nuts.  Then the dust settled, and as a boom of new listings flooded the market a week old listing was suddenly overlooked.  We wrote an offer.  Out of the blue, another offer comes in.  This house was awesome.  We couldn’t let it get away.  Proud to say our reputation preceded us and the Selling Agents knew we’d get the job done – when it came down the the nitty gritty, we helped our friends and clients prepare a terrific offer package and in the end their offer was accepted.
The phone call to your clients when you get to share the good news that they got the home of their dreams – well, it’s one of the best phone calls around.
Thank you Fredric and Heather for trusting The Caton Team with all your real estate needs.  Here’s to many happy years in your new home.
Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.
Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com
Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/
Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:
Thanks for reading – Sabrina

There is Home Ownership after a Foreclosure or Bankruptcy

I came across this article and had to share it.  With so many people effected by the real estate bust, many people we’re forced into bankruptcy or foreclosure.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel!  And I hope this news puts a few smiles on those faces.

Enjoy – Sabrina

Re-Entering Homeownership: FHA Loan Guidelines After Foreclosure and Bankruptcy

By: Lisa Burden

Many people who have been through a foreclosure in the recent past would like to become homeowners once again. For some, three years have already passed which makes them eligible to purchase a home through an FHA loan. Since being eligible does not automatically mean qualified, there are several issues that these potential home buyers should know in order to make the return to homeownership as easy as possible.

FHA will accept mortgages, after three years have passed, from borrowers who had a previous principal residence foreclosed on or that borrower gave a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. FHA allows a lender to make an exception to this three year requirement if the foreclosure was the direct result of extenuating circumstances that were beyond the control of the borrower, such as a serious illness or death of the wage earner. This event must be fully documented and the borrower must show the re-establishment of good credit since that time. While an occurrence such as divorce is not extenuating, it may be considered if the ex-spouse received the residential property and proceeded to foreclosure. On the other hand, situations such as being unable to sell the property due to a transfer of work or relocation is not considered an extenuating circumstance.

FHA mortgages also have specific rules regarding Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation) and Chapter 13 bankruptcy:

For a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a period of two years must have passed since the date of discharge of the bankruptcy. During these two years, the borrower must have re-established good credit or chosen not to incur new credit obligations. In some cases, a period of less than two years, but not less than 12 months, is acceptable for an FHA insured mortgage. In these instances, the borrower must be able to show that the bankruptcy occurred due to extenuating circumstances beyond their control and can document that they have once again established the ability to manage their financial affairs in a responsible manner. It is important for the lender to show through documentation that the events that led to the bankruptcy are not likely to occur again.

For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, documentation must show that at least two years have passed from the discharge date of the bankruptcy. Less than two years downgrades the loan to a “Refer” which then must be manually underwriter by a Direct Endorsement underwriter. Chapter 13 requires that the lender document that at least one year of the payout period has passed and that the borrower has made all required payments on time since payment performance must be satisfactory. The borrower must also have written permission from the bankruptcy court to enter into a mortgage transaction.

While the country continues to meet the challenges that occurred due to the consequences of the housing crisis that started to appear in late 2006, many previous homeowners are now ready to make another home purchase after suffering through one of these unfortunate circumstances. For many, since the required time has passed, they are now eligible to be considered for an FHA mortgage. Borrowers must have all of these important documents ready for submission to the lender, as well as, be ready to prove their creditworthiness for qualification.

I read this article at: http://www.freerateupdate.com/fha-loans/re-entering-homeownership-fha-loan-guidelines-after-foreclosure-and-bankruptcy-10684/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

5 Smart Moves for First Time Homebuyers

I came across this article and felt it was very timely – I also added my 2 cents in italics.  Enjoy – Sabrina
As a first-time real estate buyer, you probably have no idea how the overall purchasing process works or how to make sure you’re making a smart decision to purchase. And you’ll probably be very surprised to learn how much work it really is just to buy a home. To get you started in the right direction, and this is just a start, here are a few tips that you should consider.
Get lender-qualified and find a good real estate agent
To start off, you should get qualified by a lender to see what price range you can realistically afford and interview some real estate agents to find the right person to represent you in your transaction.
Once you’re qualified and have your price range estimate in hand, you’ll be able to spend your time shopping in neighborhoods that you can afford. But remember: Just because the bank says you can qualify for a certain amount, that doesn’t mean you should spend that amount. Make sure you can actually afford the monthly payment, along with all your other bills.
For real estate sales professionals, you should get referrals for a full-time agent or broker who sells at least five or more properties per year and is well-educated on the process and location where you plan to live. You should call references, check that the agent’s state sales license is up to date and interview them to make sure you’ll be comfortable working with them.
My 2 cents – Buyers should work with a lender who picks up the phone and answers their e-mails and questions in a timely manner.  Unless a buyer is using all cash, the home loan is VERY  key to purchasing.  A buyer will find that during the hunt and offer process – they will need an updated lender approval letter about every 30 days and your Realtor will need questions answered as your home journey progresses.  If the lender doesn’t respond, it can throw the home transaction off.
Make sure you plan to be a long-term owner
Once you know your price range and have looked at some properties, it’s time to make sure that you believe you can find a property that you will own for a minimum of five years. If your price range doesn’t match where you want to live, you’d be better off staying a renter and saving some additional money until you can afford where you want to live. This is because an owner really doesn’t earn any equity, on average, in a property for at least five years. That’s the generalbreak-even point, and you really need to shoot for longer than that as an ownership strategy. The truth is, long-term real estate ownership can be a great way to earn wealth, but short-term ownership usually will diminish your wealth.
My 2 cents – Due to our SF Peninsula location, The Caton Team advises buyers that they will mostly likely be in their new home for more than 5 years – closer to 7+ years before they see enough equity to sell.  Real Estate is definitely a long-term investment!  In regards to sitting back and saving though – it all depends on the real estate market where the buyer is purchasing and how fast homes are appreciating.  That’s why a buyer needs a full time agent to help them sort this out.  
On the SF Peninsula, we hit bottom on prices in 2009 – though not many people knew that.  Since then, due to low inventory, historically low interest rates and high demand; prices are moving up quickly with each sale.  Around here sometimes the market appreciates faster than buyers can save – and the last thing any buyer wants to find out – is that they waited themselves out of the home purchase market. 
Since no one can control the market and where prices are going.  If a buyer is serious about purchasing on the SF Peninsula and the home they want is not in their price range, The Caton Team suggests they go back to the table and re-evaluate their wants and needs list.  Determine if they can settle on something they didn’t necessarily want but fulfills their need.  And in time, they will earn equity, be able to sell their first home and buy a home more to their wants list than their needs list.  This might be the hardest part about purchasing on the Peninsula.  Often it pushes a buyer away from buying a home and more towards buying a condo since the price is more affordable and often larger and in better areas than similarly priced homes. 
Educate yourself
Buying property is probably the most complex, riskiest and expensive thing you will ever do. Do your homework: Talk to real estate owners, go to first-time buyer seminars, check out online material and read some books to learn what to avoid in the buying process. The more you educate yourself, the better the chances that when things go wrong — and they will go wrong — they will only be minor issues, not major headaches.
My 2 cents – In our experience the pro-active buyer is the most successful.  A Realtors knowledge and experience cannot be downloaded, though we try to explain and guide – there is so much to cover.  When a buyer steps in the real estate market it is far different than they expected.  Knowledge is power.  The Caton Team will never push a buyer to sign their name to a price or contract unless they feel it is the right thing to do.  And that feeling comes from educating themselves.  Asking questions, driving through areas, going to open houses and also sitting in our car to discuss homes as we tour.  It does take a lot of work to buy a home – and a buyer must be up for it if they want to succeed.  The Realtor cannot do this alone – a buyer must work closely with their Realtor and communicate!  Communication is so key to a successful working relationship.  And let your Realtor know who you would like to communicate.  Phone Email Text?  Just let us know.
Find a nice affordable property
The real gems in real estate are the nice, decent shape, moderately priced, boring houses, town homes and condominiums that are within your budget. Most buyers stretch to purchase the most expensive property they can afford. What if you lose your job? How about saving some of your money for retirement? You want your home to be an asset you can afford, not a liability that leaves you with no additional funds over the cost of homeownership. Also, skip the fixers, prize properties or anything that sounds too good to be true: Those always end up having issues, and owners realize, after the fact, that the deal they thought they were getting really was just too good to be true!
My 2 cents – This really hits home.  Often times buyers are so focused on getting a “house” they tend to overlook the repairs.  Figuring they can fix it themselves.  Sounds great in theory – until the repairs cost more than expected and now the monthly budget is tighter than expected.
When I purchased my first place, a one-bedroom condo, it only required some cosmetic updates.  We did most of the work ourselves, but in the end it still cost us about $20,000 and that was a condo – not a home.  Home repairs can be expensive.  And remember – it’s not an unexpected home repair – it is an expected home repair.  Because, like everything else, homes will deteriorate and require lifelong maintenance.  HOA dues don’t seem so crazy anymore once you compare what a home repairs might cost!
I’d rather see a first time buyer buy a condo that needs updating than a home that needs a roof, foundation repair and new windows. 
It’s hard for first time buyers to gauge and understand the cost of home repair and maintenance.  Ask your parents or a trusted friend who owns their home to get an idea of what maintenance and repairs can be like and how they are discovered.  Better yet start practicing your skills at painting etc or start getting quotes to better understand the cost.  We call this homework.
 
Take your time
Realistically it should take you six months or longer to buy a nice quality property that will add to your long-term wealth. Make sure you have a full understanding of what the marketplace has to offer in your price range and that you know what you’re doing.
Those are a few tips to get you started in the right direction. Real estate is buyer beware, so try to make sure you’re one of the buyers who is “aware” of how to make quality wealth-building real estate decisions. Down the road you’ll pat yourself on the back when things work out well.
My 2 cents – Be patient.  This is a journey not a race.  It will be frustrating.  At times a buyer will feel like this is just an uphill battle without any hope in sight.  Writing several offers and getting outbid will be stressful.  However, there is one thing we can say in our 25+ years of Real Estate experience.  If you want to buy a home and you are realistic, willing to adjust your wants and needs, taking the time to understand your financing options, your day to day expenses and doing your homework – you will get a home! 
Doris Day said it best – what will be will be.  Thanks for reading!
Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.
Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com
Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/
Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:
Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Warren Buffet is our New Boss!!!! Press Release!!!!

PRESS RELEASE !!!!!

Prudential, Real Living brands to be Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Brookfield Asset Management remains a partner in new brand

BY INMAN NEWS, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012.

The nation’s second-biggest real estate broker, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. affiliate HomeServices of America Inc., has entered the franchising business by acquiring a majority interest in the Prudential Real Estate and Real Living brands from Brookfield Asset Management.

The Prudential Real Estate and Real Living affiliate networks will be rolled into a new franchise brand, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, that will come online in 2013, the companies said.

HomeServices and Brookfield have formed a joint venture, HSF Affiliates LLC, to operate the Real Living and Prudential Real Estate affiliate networks, whose member brokers employ 53,000 sales associates and closed more than $72 billion in home sales last year.

HomeServices is the majority owner of HSF Affiliates, with Brookfield Asset Management retaining joint ownership. Brookfield’s relocation business, Brookfield Global Relocation Services, will remain wholly owned by Brookfield. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is a new franchise brand built upon the financial strength and leadership of Brookfield and HomeServices,” said Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in a statement. “I am confident that these partners will deliver value to the residential real estate industry, and I am pleased to have Berkshire Hathaway be a part of the new brand.”

Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of  HomeServices, said the company was “honored and proud to be entrusted with the use of the Berkshire Hathaway name as our new real estate franchise brand.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices will be based in Irvine, Calif., and led by Earl Lee, who will serve as chief executive officer. Other key management executives named today are Chief Operating Officer Stephen Phillips, Chief Financial Officer Brian Peterson, and Chief Marketing Officer Aleya Chattopadhyay.

Lee has worked under the Prudential brand since his Hawaii-based company, Locations LLC, joined the Prudential network in 1995. He was president of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services when it was acquired by Brookfield Residential Property Services for $110 million last year.

Real Living founder and president Harley Rouda Jr. will take over as CEO of Trident Holdings Inc., the parent company of Ohio-based HER Realty Real Living. Rouda said HER Realty does not plan to be affiliated with Real Living or Prudential Real Estate.

Canadian-based Brookfield entered the U.S. market in 2008, by acquiring GMAC Real Estate and merging the company into Real Living the following year.

Phillips served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for GMAC Home Services from 2001 to 2006, and as interim CEO of the GMAC Relocation Services business. Peterson has 24 years of experience in the real estate brokerage and franchising business, including 14 years with Brookfield and GMAC. Chattopadhyay has been with Brookfield since 2003, holding roles in Canada, India and the U.K.

Peltier said that while Minneapolis-based HomeServices is getting into the franchising business to accelerate its growth and build a website that will be a destination for consumers, the company will continue to expand its company-owned brokerage operations.

“The business model we have used to grow for the last 15 years was to identify great companies, regardless of their brand, and own and operate those local companies,” Peltier said. 

Since HomeServices was acquired in 1998 by Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Holdings Corp., the “independent brand” acquisition strategy has helped the company grow from 4,000 agents in three markets to more than 16,000 agents in 21 states who last year handled sales of homes valued at nearly $32 billion.

Peltier said that while HomeServices will continue to identify brokerages to acquire, own and operate, “being a franchisor, we’ll be in a lot of markets much quicker than (with the) existing strategy” alone.

With consumers typically starting their home search on the Internet, creating a single destination website under the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand will benefit both company-owned brokerages and franchisees, Peltier said.

“At some point, you can’t ignore the fact that if you want to attract customer eyeballs, you have to have a presence on the Internet, and you can’t do it with local independent brands” alone, Peltier said. “You have to have a single brand.”

Company-owned brokerages that operate under independent brands will continue to have the option of pursuing that strategy, while still benefiting from the exposure they will receive from the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices website, he said.

“We will continue to grow and support the independent brand strategy as well,” Peltier said. “We’re adding to our strategy — this is not deleting.”

HomeServices of America’s business model now looks more like the one employed by competitor Realogy Holdings Corp. Although Realogy operates the nation’s largest brokerage company, NRT LLC, most of the company’s 2011 adjusted net earnings came from providing real estate franchise services to companies operating 13,800 offices under the Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, Sotheby’s International Realty, Coldwell Banker Commercial, and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brands.

HomeServices owns nine brokerages affiliated with Prudential Real Estate, including three acquired this year: Portland, Ore.-based Prudential Northwest Properties, acquired in February; Seattle-based Prudential Northwest Realty Associates, acquired in April; Prudential Connecticut Realty, also acquired in April.

The six other HomeServices brokerages affiliated with Prudential Real Estate are and Prudential California Realty (Southern California), Prudential First Realty (Iowa), Prudential Rhode Island Realty, Prudential Carolinas Realty, Prudential York Simpson Underwood Realty (North Carolina) and Prudential Yost and Little Realty (North Carolina).

HomeServices also owns Koenig & Strey Real Living, a dominant brokerage in the metro Chicago area, which it acquired from Brookfield in 2009.

“This is not a new thought,” Peltier said of the decision to create a national franchise brand, noting that HomeServices was interested in acquiring the Prudential Real Estate brand two years ago. 

When Brookfield acquired the brand instead, it did so knowing it would eventually have to transition to another name — parent company Prudential Financial Inc. made that a condition of the sale.

“They were looking for a great brand, and we were fortunate in that we’d been given permission by our parent” company to use the Berkshire Hathaway name to create a new brand, Peltier said. It’s “an internationally recognized brand that’s currently not being used in commerce.”

According to an amended registration statement Prudential Real Estate Affiliates filed on Jan. 19 with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Brookfield was barred from signing up new franchisees to operate under the Prudential Real Estate name. Brookfield had the right to renew the right of existing franchisees to operate under the Prudential name for up to five years, but only if their franchise agreements expired on or before Dec. 6, 2013.

All rights to use the Prudential Real Estate name expired at the end of 2027 — when the franchise agreement with the longest term was set to expire — or on the date on which no franchise agreement is in effect, the registration statement said.

Brian Boero, a partner in the real estate technology consulting firm 1000watt, said in a blog post today that while many existing Prudential affiliates “are deeply invested” in the brand, “I think most will jump at the opportunity to associate with Berkshire Hathaway. I’ve heard from some already, and they’re enthused. A conversion process that could have taken a decade will be collapsed into months.”

In filing its updated registration statement with Minnesota regulators, Prudential Real Estate also disclosed recent litigation with several franchisees.

Last year, Prudential Real Estate said it received $1.9 million from Mason McDuffie Real Estate Inc. to settle a breach of contract lawsuit Prudential Real Estate filed against the Pleasanton, Calif.-based brokerage after it switched its franchise affiliation to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

Prudential Real Estate also disclosed that it had received settlement payments in 2011 from Prudential Texas Properties and Missouri-based brokerage Carter Duffey Inc.

I read this article at: http://www.inman.com/news/2012/10/30/prudential-real-living-brands-be-berkshire-hathaway-homeservices

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Tatjana… A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

When Michael and Tatjana reached out to The Caton Team – we were very excited to be their Realtors for their first home purchase.  We got them preapproved with Melanie Flynn of First Priority Financial and hit the ground running.  They were so excited, started checking out properties and sooner than later, we began to write some offers.

With fingers crossed and prayers whispered we waited on pins and needles to hear back on their first offer… they didn’t get it.  The first time you lose a house – it’s the pits.  The second and third time it doesn’t get any easier.  Tatjana and Michael started to lose hope.  Who wouldn’t?

But The Caton Team wouldn’t let them lose out on their dream.  As full time Realtors, we’ve spent countless sleepless nights hoping and praying our client’s dreams come true.  We knew – you have to get back on the horse, try, try again….there are other fish in the sea.

And they did – but they had one request.  They no longer wanted to write a letter to the seller that included their adorable family photo.  In shock, I asked why.  They were adamant – ‘what’s the point?  The seller is looking for the most money and highest offer.’  I smiled.  We could hear the disappointment in their voice.  But we had faith.  We couldn’t change what we were doing.  The offer package The Caton Team prepares for each offer is thorough and it is successful.  Sometimes money talks.  But sometimes, it’s the other items in the offer package that get the recognition.

As we waited to hear back on their offer I was looking at the copy of the photo we sent of their family.  I’ve known Tatjana since the 6th grade and here she was, with her husband and two beautiful sons…  The phone rang, couldn’t get to it fast enough.  It was the seller’s agent.  I could hear the happiness in her hello.  They got the house.  Quickly she interjected – it wasn’t about being the highest price, they weren’t.  It was about the letter and the picture.  (It still brings tears to my eyes.)  Turns out the owner was deceased and had charged her best friend with handling her estate.  Her wish was for her home to be sold to a nice family – not an investor.  She had built that home from the ground up, raised her family there, and she wanted her best friend to pick the sweetest family for her home.  And boy they couldn’t have found a better family.

Sometimes it really isn’t just about the money.

Congratulations to Michael and Tatjana – to many happy years and memories in your new home!

 

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina