The Importance of Working with a Good Lender

The Importance of Working with a Good Lender – by Sabrina

Buying a home is serious business; especially on the San Francisco Peninsula where even a one bedroom condo can run about half a million bucks.

And in an industry where time is money and money talks, from time to time I will encounter a lender – that offers great rates and low fees – upfront.  And no customer service when you really need it.

Much too often a buyer is tempted to get the best rate – without really considering the whole picture.

Unless you are paying cash – the home loan is the most important aspect of buying a home – aside from the home itself.

So when taking into account that a home is generally the largest purchase of a person’s life – shouldn’t we work with a bank that treats it with the same respect?  YES!

There are hundreds of steps from finding the home to getting the keys.  The loan is probably the largest hurdle aside from home inspections.

Once a buyer’s contract is accepted by the seller – it’s rush time.  Most offers have a time frame – called a contingency period – to have the bank do their appraisal and have the loan/purchase terms reviewed and approved by underwriting.  It can be as long as 17 days in a buyers market – or as short as 5 days in a sellers market.  And this is where we separate the men from the boys.  Some of these out of state or on-line lenders are not located here – where one is buying – and it can be extremely difficult to get information and approvals done when they close shop at 5pm and it’s only 2pm here!

That friendly voice that quoted a buyer a fantastic rate isn’t calling us back anymore…..and when they do it’s often not what we were hoping to hear.  For example, they need more time to review the file – therefore we need to push back the close of escrow date – which seems easy – but again – time is money.   The seller is expecting the buyer to perform to the terms of the contract and it’s not worth losing a home due to a lackluster lender…..and changing lenders mid way is generally not an option.

So – what can a buyer do to be competitive?  Work with a local lender.  Once your credit is pulled the first time – a consumer has 30 days to loan shop without hurting their credit score.  So do it!  Loan shop the whole month and find the best rate, the best fees and make sure the lender is attentive, local and can move at the pace the current market is dictating.

The Caton Team has a list of Client Approved Lenders – so please reach out to us and we’ll introduce you to the team.

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  What can we do for you?

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-city

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabrina/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through home ownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

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A Cinderella Story – Anna – From Renter to Owner

A Cinderella Story – Anna – From Renter to Owner

First time homebuyers bring us joy!  Not only are they the corner stone of the real estate market – they are the fuel.  Without the first time homebuyer, it would be hard for owners/sellers to move on to their next home.

But with great responsibility comes work.  And in the San Francisco Bay Area – it’s hard work.  2013 has been an interesting year in local real estate.  We know prices hit bottom in 2009 and many buyers, sitting on the fence for the past several years, were unsure where the market was going.  Early in 2013 these buyers got off the fence and changed the dynamic of our local real estate market.

After the New Years Eve confetti was brushed away, many buyers started looking.  Earlier this year, we had very limited inventory.  In fact, we’ve had low inventory since our prices dropped.  Amazing low interest rates, coupled with low prices – generated some excitement.

Over the holidays, a friend and fellow Notre Dame alumni reached out to me with a question.  Could she buy a condo?  Before the local real estate bust, condos and home prices steadily rose.   Back then a one-bedroom condo ran close to a half-a-million bucks.  Not an easy price for a first time homebuyer.  So when prices fell – opportunity was knocking.

With her pre-approval in hand we took Anna out for her first tour.  At first, she expected her house hunt to take one month.  Quickly we explained that with the current low inventory and high buyer demand, we were looking at closer to 6 months than 1 month to find and acquire a home.  A frown – but she held tight.

Our first problem – there wasn’t much to look at.  Once we looked at older inventory – it became a race to see the new ones.  As soon as a new condo came on – I was on the phone with her setting an appointment to show it.  I have got to say – Anna understood the importance of the early worm.  She didn’t push the most expensive and important purchase of her life to the end of her day, or only on the weekend.  Anna understood that the market waits for NO ONE!  So during her lunch break or between her appointments, we’d take a look.

Earlier this year, with demand high, most units had offer dates set after the first open house.  Making it a mad dash to the finish line to get her offer in.  Being that we looked during the week, Anna had the opportunity to show the unit to her family and friends over the weekend and write her offer with confidence.

We must have written 5 offers in a few months.  It felt like we wrote offers once a week.  And slowly, as units were closing escrow – we saw it – she saw it – the market price was inching upwards and eventually she’d be priced out of the market.

Now Anna is a very savvy young woman.  She saw the writing on the wall – I didn’t have to tell her it was a matter of time before we had nothing to shop for.  So Anna did what all smart buyers have to do – she took a look at her ‘wants vs. needs’ list and made some reality adjustments.  In the end, location was her most important attribute.  She didn’t want to live in the fringes of the Bay Area just to say she had more space.  Anna wanted to be close to work and near a downtown to enjoy her life.

Then a junior one bedroom came on the market in Santa Clara.  Right in the heart of it – it was a great location.  And you know what how important location is in Real Estate!  We were quick to write an offer.  Up against three others – she was out bid.  Thankfully The Caton Team, with 25+ years in the business has earned a nice reputation among local agents.  With a clean offer and backed up by our expertise, Anna was given a counter offer and my next call to her would prove to be most joyous.

Congratulations Anna!  You were a joy to work with and The Caton Team is honored to have been the Realtors to turn you from renter into owner!

 

How can The Caton Team help you?  We’re a call or click away!

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-city

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabrina/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

6 Wills, Won’ts and Worries of 2013 Home Buyers…. great article – had to share…

When I read this – I just had to share….

 

6 Wills, Won’ts and Worries of 2013 Home Buyers

 

Trulia Article By Tara-Nicholle Nelson

If you’ve ever taken up running, you might know what it’s like to strap on your new shoes, head over to the track and take those first few strides, then feel a pain in your chest, heaviness in your feet and possibly, actually see stars. Maybe your last steps off the track were accompanied by the thought process: “Either I’m crazy, or runners are.”

Until you have talked to a legitimate, dyed in the wool runner and told them your story, explaining why you detest running with every iota of your being you won’t know the runner’s secret: everyone feels that way at first. It’s the normal physiological adjustment to the increased load you’re putting on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, this pain you felt when you took those first few steps.  It goes away in just a moment, if and only if you keep on running.

Sometimes, knowing that others react to a tough situation by feeling the same emotions, thinking the same thoughts, or doing the same things you do flat out helps you feel less crazy, panicked and out of control of your situation. It’s the concept behind support groups but, last I checked, there really isn’t such a thing as group therapy for home buyers. (Well, some would say that’s what Trulia Voices is for, but I digress.)

Today’s rapidly rising prices and generally volatile market does make things tough for buyers, so we thought we’d systematically explore – and then share – what’s going on inside the minds of the buyers on today’s market.  Hopefully, sellers will find some insights for marketing their properties, too.

Fresh off the presses, here are some of the insights and takeaways from our latest American Dream Survey, pinpointing the things today’s buyers worry about, will and won’t do in their quest to get their own corner of the American Dream: a home.

Worry:  Mortgage rates and prices will rise before I buy.  Trulia’s Economist Jed Kolko reports that “the top worry among all survey respondents who might buy a home someday is that mortgage rates will rise further before they buy (41%), followed by rising prices (37%).”  The worry is valid, given the fact that the market was depressed for so long and has a long recovery road ahead of it.  It’s compounded by the fact that buying a home has gone from something that used to take a month or two and now routinely takes 6 months, 9 months, a year or even longer!

Here’s the deal: you can’t stop prices from rising. And fixating on this particular fear poses the potential pitfall of  rushing to buy or making compromises that will turn out badly in the end.  Don’t dilly dally, if you’re ready and in the market, and don’t mess around making lowball offers with no chance of success.  But otherwise, don’t let this fear drive your buying and timing decisions.

Will:  Be aggressive. B. E. Aggressive. Economist Kolko explained, “among survey respondents who plan to buy a home someday, 2 in 3 (66%)  would use aggressive tactics such as bidding above asking, writing personal letters to the seller, or removing contingencies, to name a few.”  What buyers do and don’t do in the name of aggressively pursuing their dream homes (and, consequently, what sellers expect) is slightly different in every town.

Knowing that other buyers are facing down the same challenges you are and coming up with similar, aggressive solutions can help you feel a little less crazy about your thought processes and emotions and the desperate measures that come to mind when you hear how many others think “your” home is their dream home. And that puts you back in control of what can sometimes feel like an out-of-control situation. Reality check: you are 100% in the driver’s seat when it comes to how aggressive you want to be in your pursuit of any given home, and which specific tactics you leverage in the course of that pursuit.

Worry:  I won’t find a home I like.  Forty-three percent of people who plan to buy a home in the next 12 months expressed the concern that they might not be able to even find a property they like. Perhaps these people were just seriously persnickety, but I suspect there’s a bigger issue at play here.  All of us can find a home we like, but whether there’s anything we like enough to buy in our price range is a completely separate issue.

This worry, then, seems to be closely related to the fear of rising prices – buyers are rightfully fearful that home value increases will put their personal dream homes out of their price range. This is why it’s super important to:

  • be aggressive about seeing suitable properties as soon as they come onto the market
  • work with an agent whose offer pricing advice you trust
  • adjust your house hunt downward in price range if the market dynamics include lots of over-asking sales prices, and
  • not to let months and months go by while you make lowball offers or otherwise be slow to  come to the reality of what homes are actually selling for in your area.

The sooner you put yourself seriously in the game and make reality-based offers, the more likely you’ll be able to score a home you like in your price range.

Worry:  I will have to compete with other buyers for the home I like. Twenty-seven percent of those who plan to buy at some point in the future and 32% of those who plan to buy in the next year said they feared the prospect of facing a bidding war. This worry is well-grounded. In California, the average property receives four offers – but stories of dozens of offers abound. And it’s not just a West Coast phenomenon: buyers from coast to coast trade tales of getting outbid and having to throw in their firstborn child, lastborn puppy and most precious earthly possessions just to get into contract.

Truth is, market dynamics vary from town to town, and even neighborhood to neighborhood, but if you’re buying on today’s market or planning to buy anytime soon, bidding wars, multiple offers and over-asking sales prices are a reality you will probably have to factor into your house hunt.

Won’t:  Bid way more than asking.  Only 9 percent of wanna-be buyers said they would bid between 6 and 10 percent over the asking price for a property. This finding surfaces the uber-importance of checking in with an experienced local agent to get a briefing on precisely how much over asking homes are selling for in your area.  This empowers you to tweak your online house hunting price range low enough that you can make an over-asking offer and be successful without breaking the bank.  And once you’ve gotten a reality-based estimate of the over-asking norm, it will loom less ominously in your mind’s eye as a potential American Dream-killer.

Worry:  I won’t qualify for a mortgage.  Thirty percent of all people who identified themselves as planning to buy a home in the future said they were worried they might not be able to qualify for a home loan. (Interestingly, only 25 percent of buyers in hot markets like Oakland and Las Vegas expressed this concern – rapidly rising prices and knowing lots of other buyers are closing transactions in your town seems to ease this fear.)

Of all the worries on the list, this is the one over which a smart buyer has the most power. So exercise it! Work with a mortgage broker who was referred by friends, family members or an agent you trust.  And ideally, work with them months – even a year or more – before you plan to buy.  They can help you put an action plan in place around boosting your savings and credit score, and minimize your debt and credit dings, that you can work to minimize mortgage qualifying dramas when the time is right. They can also help give you a stronger sense of what you can afford vis-a-vis your income, to help you anticipate any challenges related to what sort of home your dollar will buy in your market.

ALL: What worries do you have about today’s market? Which steps are you willing to take in your quest to achieve the American Dream?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/2013/07/6_wills_won_ts_and_worries_of_2013_home_buyers?ecampaign=cnews20+and1308A&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Ftaranelson%2F2013%2F07%2F6_wills_won_ts_and_worries_of_2013_home_buyers

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

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call The Caton Team at 650-568-5522

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-city

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Buying the Perfect House – True Story

Buying the Perfect House

When we dream of our first home, the sky’s the limit.  We dream of spacious bedrooms and a terrific yard ready for a BBQ.  We dream of custom kitchens with architectural detail.  We dream of thoughtful neighbors and the right school district.  We dream and it is awesome.

Then comes reality.  The house on the perfect street has a vintage kitchen.  Or the home with the spacious family room abuts the freeway.  Often times a buyer grows frustrated looking for their perfect home.

Let me spare you some heartache.  YOUR perfect home is not out there.  Why?  Because you haven’t made it yet!

Yes, it is that simple.  In our 25+ years of real estate experience, we have gone down this path with each buyer we meet.  Some are quick to realize and quick to adjust.  Others refuse to budge and often lose out on some great opportunities.

It’s probably the hardest conversation to have with a buyer – aside from the ‘you were outbid’ talk.  Because it forces a buyer to quickly adjust their needs and wants list – if – they want to become a homeowner here in the gorgeous San Francisco Bay Area.

How can a buyer make the right decision?  That’s a great question – because there is a perfect home out there – you just have to see its potential.

  • Determine your true budget.  That means, before you start looking at homes, you’ve written out your monthly budget as it stands today – AND – you’ve written out your budget post home purchase.  The worst feeling in the world is writing an offer and being unsure you can afford the offer price.  So part of a buyers homework is to determine how much you can afford on the monthly mortgage payment and then talk to a bank.  Often times the max purchase price the bank says you can spend – isn’t what you feel comfortable spending.  And that is the information your Realtor needs to know BEFORE they start house hunting for you.

o   Make sure your budget accounts for more than just the mortgage payment.  Home ownership includes property taxes,

insurance on the home, and a reserve fund for those expected/unexpected home repairs.

 

  • Determine why you are buying your home.  Do you need more space?  Are the kids starting school and you want to settle into a nice neighborhood?  If you can pinpoint exactly why you want or need to buy – your Realtor can help hone in on the homes that fit the bill.
  • Make a true Needs and Wants list.  Be ready to adjust that list as you see what your can afford.
  • Be Flexible.  In our experience – 9 times out of 10 – a buyer buys a home that doesn’t fit the original plan.  Why? Either they fell in love with the home or they realized what they thought they wanted was out of their price range or what they thought they wanted was more of a wish than a need.
  • Be REALISTIC!  The hardest part of the home buyer journey is the reality check.  You cannot expect to buy a three bedroom two bath on the Peninsula if your budget is only $400,000.  And being a stick in the mud isn’t going to help you!  Ask your agent how they think you can get the most bang for your buck.  Often our first time buyers find a better opportunity when they open up to other areas or types of homes.

Whatever type of home you are looking for in the Bay Area, The Caton Team is here to listen to your wants and needs and work with you to achieve home ownership.  What can we do for you?

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-city

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina