Save Water & Money – Some Helpful Links

Save Water AND Money!

Many counties have rebate programs, provide free products & services and give great tips! Check out the link for your area here:

San Francisco   http://www.sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=136

San Mateo Countyhttps://green.smcgov.org/how-save-water

Santa Clara Countyhttp://www.valleywater.org/programs/waterconservation.aspx

City of Palo Altohttp://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/utl/residents/resrebate/resiwater.asp

Alameda Countyhttp://www.acwd.org/index.aspx?NID=134

 

Hard to Recycle Items?

Questions about what is available in your area?

Check Out these Recycling Resources!

 

For any location and great information about projects and ways to reuse materials: http://earth911.com/

Recyclopedia for the Palo Alto area: http://archive.cityofpaloalto.org/forms/recyclopedia/index.lasso

Hazardous Waste Program for Palo Alto:  http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/pwd/zerowaste/whatgoeswhere/hazwaste.asp

Household Hazardous Waste Facility for San Francisco: http://www.recologysf.com/hazardousWasteFacility.htm

Household Hazardous Waste Program for San Mateo County: http://www.smchealth.org/hhw

Household Hazardous Waste Facility for Santa Clara County: http://www.sccgov.org/sites/iwm/hhw/Pages/hhw.aspx

Household Hazardous Waste Facility for Alameda County: http://www.stopwaste.org/home/index.asp?page=3

 

 

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

Shut Out of the Housing Market? First-Timers Dwindle…

The 1st time buyer is the cornerstone to the housing market.  Enjoy this article – I would love to hear your thoughts!  I added my 2 cents at the bottom.

Shut Out of the Housing Market? First-Timers Dwindle

First-time home buyers are particularly being hit hard by rising prices and tougher credit standards — and their decreasing market share proves it.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports that first-time home buyers accounted for 26 percent of purchases in January, down from 30 percent a year earlier. It’s also the lowest market share for first-time buyers that NAR has recorded since it began measuring it in 2008.

The falling number of first-time home buyers has the potential to slow the pace of the recovery, Bloomberg reports. The decline of first-time home buyers is hampering home sales, which dropped 5.1 percent in January compared to a year earlier, NAR reports.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Association of REALTORS®. “We have a ladder of home ownership and need first-time home buyers beginning the process of owning, building equity, and trading up to have a healthy housing sector.”

Some housing advocates are blaming investors for pushing out home buyers, particularly where first-time home buyers are being outbid by investors offering all-cash offers. Nearly 80 organizations are calling on federal regulators to address investors pushing potential home buyers out of the market, reports the California Reinvestment Coalition. They argue that federal housing agencies conducting bulk sales of foreclosed homes and distressed mortgages have heightened the problem.

“We’re ringing the alarm bell now and asking regulators to act,” says Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition. “Wall Street and other cash investors are making it harder for families to buy their first house, for renters to stay in their communities, and for neighborhoods to recover.”

The housing advocates are asking for greater oversight from federal regulatory bodies, such as with more oversight of new investor landlords and ensure that banks aren’t favoring investors over home buyers with FHA loans in REO purchases. The group is also asking for greater research on the disparate impact of REO properties on various communities, particularly the impact to minority communities. Read more about the housing advocates’ stance at the California Reinvestment Coalition website.

Source: “Americans Shut Out of Home Market Threaten Recovery: Mortgages,” Bloomberg Businessweek (March 5, 2014) and “80 Organizations Ask Federal Government to Address Investor Cash Flooding Into Neighborhoods,” California Reinvestment Coalition (March 4, 2014)

Read More

Study: Student Debt Holds Buyers Back, But Doesn’t Need ToNew Low for First-Time Home Buyers

My 2 cents.  When prices were as low as they were going to go – I remember contacting all the buyers I met 10 years ago to let them know there were homes in their price ranges.  Sadly, offer after offer, the 1st time buyers, with loans, were being outbid by investors – or underbid, but out timed by cash investors.  I watched homes sell so darn low to investors, foreign and domestic, my heart hurt.  Here was the opportunity for 1st time buyers, who planned on staying put for 10 years and working on their home – and they couldn’t buy because of the competition.  Now there are plenty of rental properties, but here in the Bay Area the rents are just as high as the mortgages.  I’m sad to see 1st time buyers forced to move away just to buy a home.  And that is no good for growth or our area or our housing market.  Without a first time buyer – there is no second time buyer and so forth.  It will be interesting to see how this effects us.

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/03/06/shut-out-housing-market-first-timers-dwindle?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BTGMphB84q$cpc&om_ntype=RMODaily

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

What Are the Changes in Flood Insurance?

Just a quick update on the changes in Flood Insurance…

What Are the Changes in Flood Insurance?

Property owners in flood zones in San Mateo County are likely to get relief under a bill recently signed by the President. Under the bill:
(1) sales will no longer trigger immediate premium increases.
(2) properties that complied with prior flood map requirements will be grandfathered, which would likely mean that insurers may not require elevation certificates at sale to obtain flood insurance.

In response to homeowners around the country experiencing large increases in flood insurance premiums and to the increased costs at sale due to the Biggert-Waters (B-W) Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (“Biggert-Waters”), both the House (H.R. 3770, The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act) and the Senate (S. 1926) passed bills rolling back some of the B-W provisions. Although the Senate bill was broader, the Senate agreed to go along with the House version.

Other provisions of the House bill are:
(3) it limits yearly premium increases to 15% for nine FEMA property categories, no individual policy increases of more than 18% for most properties built after 1975 and 25% for older properties.
(4) it provides refunds of premiums to homebuyers after Biggert-Waters effective date.
(5) it provides for an annual $50 surcharge for residential policyholders and a $250 surcharge for businesses and second homes.
(6) it strives to reach a goal where most residential policy holders have a premium no greater than 1% of the value of coverage (i.e. $2,000 for a $200,000 policy).
(7) and it establishes a Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA to, among other things, answer current and prospective policyholder questions about the mapping process and flood insurance rates. 

I read this article at: http://www.samcar.org

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

Home Values Expected to Rise through 2018

Home Values Expected to Rise through 2018 – Great Article I had to share…

A majority of more than 100 forecasters says they expect large-scale investors to sell off the bulk of homes in their portfolios in the next three to five years, boosting inventory and potentially contributing to a smoother market ahead, according to the latest Zillow® Home Price Expectations Survey. On average, panelists also say they expected nationwide home value appreciation of 4.5 percent this year, with a steady slowdown in appreciation rates each year through 2018.

The survey of 110 economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists asked panelists to predict the path of the U.S. Zillow Home Value Indexi through 2018 and solicited opinions on investor activity and federal monetary policy. The survey was sponsored by leading real estate information marketplace Zillow, Inc. and is conducted quarterly by Pulsenomics LLC.

Throughout the recovery, large-scale investors have purchased thousands of homes nationwide, particularly lower-priced vacant and foreclosed homes, fixing them up and keeping them in their portfolios as rental properties. This investor activity helped put a floor under sales volumes during the depth of the housing recession, but also created competition for many would-be buyers and contributed to rapid price spikes in some areas.

Panelists were asked to assess the impact to the market if these institutional investors were to significantly curtail their activity this year. Among those panelists expressing an opinion, 79 percent says the impact would be significant or somewhat significant. Panelists were also asked when they thought these investors will have sold the majority of homes in their portfolios. Among those with an opinion, 57 percent says they expected this to occur in the next three to five years.

“Real estate investors, both large and small, played a crucial role in helping to stabilize markets during the darkest days of the housing recession, but a decline in investor activity now isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and could have real benefits for buyers,” says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “Buyers entering the market in the next few months will not be competing with cash-rich investors like they were last year which should be some small solace given the higher prices and mortgage rates that they will encounter. The gradual decline of investor activity should be viewed as another sign of the market slowly returning to normal, and I agree with the panel’s expectations that there will not be a rush for the exit by institutional investors.”

Panelists were also asked when the Federal Reserve should end its ongoing stimulus efforts, known as “quantitative easing.” Since September 2012, the Fed has been purchasing tens of billions of dollars worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage securities each month, which has helped keep mortgage interest rates low and stimulate demand. The program is now being wound down.

“Mortgage rates have been riding a rally in U.S. Treasury securities caused by volatility in emerging markets in recent weeks, so the impact of Fed tapering on the housing market has been minimal thus far,” says Pulsenomics Founder, Terry Loebs. “More than 70 percent of the experts want to see the monetary stimulus reduced to zero before the end of this year, and the current pace of tapering will get us there. Of course, whether Janet Yellen’s Fed will maintain the current pace as new economic challenges arise remains an open question.”

Appreciation Expected to Normalize through 2018

On average, panelists says they expect nationwide home value appreciation of 4.5 percent through the end of this year, a pace that exceeds historically normal annual appreciation rates of around 3 percent. This appreciation is expected to slow to roughly 3.8 percent in 2015 and 3.3 percent by 2018, rates much more in line with historic norms.

Based on current expectations for home value appreciation during the next five years, panelists predicted that overall U.S. home values could exceed their April 2007 peak by the first quarter of 2018, and may cross the $200,000 threshold by the third quarter of 2018.

The most optimistic groupii of panelists predicted a 5.6 percent annual increase in home values this year, on average, while the most pessimisticiii predicted an average increase of 3.4 percent. The most optimistic panelists predicted home values would rise roughly 10.6 percent above their 2007 peaks by the end of 2018, on average, while the most pessimistic says they expected home values to remain about 4.5 percent below 2007 peaks.

What do you think the Real Estate Market will do?

I read this article at:  http://rismedia.com/2014-02-16/home-values-expected-to-rise-through-2018/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eNews

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

Law Requiring Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures is in Effect

Law Requiring Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures is in Effect

Just a re-reminder, state law calling for the replacement of older plumbing fixtures with water-conserving ones went into effect on January 1 of 2014. The law says that when improving a property (based on certain standards and thresholds), new water-conserving toilets, showerheads, faucets and urinals must be installed before the local building department will issue a certificate of final completion and occupancy. The plumbing fixtures that will need to be replaced are: any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons per flush; any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute; any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute and any urinal manufactured to use more than one gallon of water per flush. Homeowners with questions about their individual fixtures are urged to contact their city or county building department.

 

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

Buying a Home After a Short Sale or Foreclosure Just Got Easier!

Home buyers qualify for FHA loan despite short sale or foreclosure

Mortgage borrowers may now qualify for an FHA mortgage under new guidelines established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to Eli Younes of Viking Realty Group in Pembroke Pines on Tuesday.

As a result of the housing collapse, many homeowners experienced a serious reduction in income or lost their jobs due to the crumbling economy. Some mortgage borrowers were forced to file bankruptcy or short sale their home to avoid foreclosure.

Others were not so lucky and lost their home on the courthouse steps.

The new HUD rules allow borrowers whose credit was damaged due to a temporary loss of employment or income to qualify for an FHA mortgage if they have substantially recovered from that situation and maintained a positive credit history for at least 12 months.

Borrowers who recently experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure, short-sale, loan delinquencies, deed-in-lieu, debt collections or other situation negatively impacting their FICO credit score may now be able to qualify for an FHA loan.

Recognizing that any number of events may have impacted a borrowers’ credit rating, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) believes that such catastrophic event does not mean they are not financially stable or unable to make a mortgage payment.

As such, the previous 3-year waiting period required by the FHA on financing a new home has been revised.

“Referred to as the ‘Back to Work’ initiative, this program is designed for borrowers who lost their home through foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu and also suffered a 20% or more loss in household income,” Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage told Examiner. “As with most FHA loans, this program only requires a 3.5% down payment and is applicable for all purchase loans other than the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.”

In order to qualify for a mortgage under the “Back to Work” initiative, there are several steps that must be taken to prove an “Economic Event” that was beyond the borrower’s control.

Employment Requirements:

The lender must verify that the borrower lost at least 20% or more in household income – or became unemployed – for a period of six months prior to the foreclosure, short-sale, or deed-in-lieu. To verify loss of income, the lender must request a written Verification of Employment to show the termination date or loss of income, receipt of unemployment compensation, or signed W-2’s and tax returns detailing the reduction in earnings.

To demonstrate a loss of income for part-time or seasonal employment, the borrower must prove a 2-year history in the same field prior to loss of employment. Borrowers will also be required to prove that they have fully recovered from their hardship, increased earnings and have maintained other credit obligations for a period of 12 months following foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu.

Credit Requirements:

When evaluating a borrower for the “Back to Work” initiative following a foreclosure, the lender may deem the borrower eligible if:

1.) The borrower’s credit report is free of any late housing payments within the last 12 months;

2.) All other mortgage accounts must be current for the last 12 months, even if the loan was previously modified to avoid a foreclosure action;

3.) The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and

4.) The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records. This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.

Bankruptcy Filings:

1.) Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: One year must have elapsed since the bankruptcy discharge. Proof must also be shown that the bankruptcy filing was the result of an “Economic Event” covered within the FHA program guidelines.

2.) Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Most lenders will require that the bankruptcy filing be discharged with all payments required under the agreement having been made on time. For borrowers currently in bankruptcy, written approval from the court allowing them to enter a new mortgage contract is required.

Housing Counseling Requirement:

For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit following an “Economic Event,” mortgage borrowers’ under the “Back to Work” initiative must:

1.) Receive homeownership counseling or a combination of homeownership education and counseling, at a minimum, one hour of one-on-one counseling from HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, as defined at 24 C.F.R. §214.100; and

2.) Be completed a minimum of thirty (30) days but no more than six (6) months prior to submitting a loan application to a lender, as application is defined in Regulation X, implementing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 24 C.F.R. §3500.2(b).

The housing education may be provided by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, state housing finance agencies, approved intermediaries or their sub-grantees, or through an online course. It may be conducted in person, via telephone, via internet, or other methods approved by HUD, and mutually agreed upon by the borrower and housing counseling agency.

Rules for Renters:

Under certain circumstances, renters may qualify under the “Back to Work” initiative. For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit, mortgage borrowers must:

1.) The borrower’s credit report is free of any late rental payments within the last 12 months;

2.) The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and

3.) The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records. This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.

A foreclosure, short-sale, Chapter 13 bankruptcy or deed-in-lieu will continue to plague a borrower’s credit report at the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion consumer reporting agencies for a period of seven years. A discharged Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on the credit report for a period of ten years.

“With the housing crash, many homeowners experienced unemployment or depreciated home values and for one reason or another were not able to make their mortgage payments,” Carlos J. Reyes, a foreclosure defense attorney with the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale, told Examiner. “The recent changes in the FHA guidelines have finally recognized the financial hardship faced by many borrowers and is allowing them to once again reach for the American Dream through homeownership.”

The new guidelines are in effect immediately and will be in force through at least September, 2016.

 

This is truly great news for people who faced economic hardships during our market down turn.  You have a chance to be a homeowner again.  

 

I read this article at: http://www.examiner.com/article/home-buyers-qualify-for-fha-loan-despite-short-sale-or-foreclosure

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

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

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Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

4 Ways to Supercharge Your House Hunt — and Get Your Sundays Back

It’s that time of year again – Spring is right around the corner, homes are coming on the market and Sunday’s are getting busy again!   I enjoy reading and sharing Tara’s blog on Trulia.  So I thought I would share this great article regarding how to make the best of your open house weekends.  And if you have any real estate questions – I’d be happy to help – The Caton Team is always here a call or click away.  Enjoy…

4 Ways to Supercharge Your House Hunt — and Get Your Sundays Back

Every buyer-to-be uses open houses differently. For some, they offer a rich looky-look experience at the very, very beginning of their house hunt. This empowers you to learn exactly what sort of place you can get for the money, at various price points and various spots around town. It also allows brand new buyers to figure out how the photos you see online translate into real world, brick and mortar (and stucco and hardwood) properties.

At the other end of the spectrum, serious buyers often use Open Houses as a convenient opportunity to meet up with their agent and cruise through a large number of interesting homes at one time every week without having to go through the rigmarole of setting appointments with every single seller.

Whether you’ve just decided that buying a home is something you want to do or you are a seasoned, serious buyer waiting for that moment when “the one” hits the market, supercharge your Open House hours. See more properties that are real contenders and minimize time-wasting with these four tactical tricks:

1. Prep yourself. Sure, you can just hop in the car, drive around and look for signs. If your market is very active, you can even find an interesting house or two that way. Or you can maximize your time, conserve your energy and make sure you see as many real contenders as possible in a couple of hours on the weekend by doing a little bit of digital research to create a power-packed Open House viewing session.

On the newly beautified Trulia app, you can take a look at any point on the map and see a birds-eye-view of the properties for sale, their list prices and which of them have an upcoming Open House. Tap on any property’s flag to see the property’s photo and a few of the most important details (price, address, bedrooms, and bathrooms), while still seeing the map view. For even more info, tap the image of the home you’re interested in and browse all of its relevant stats, including more pictures.  If a home isn’t checking enough of your “must-have” boxes, cross it off your Open House list for the weekend and pat yourself on the back for saving some serious time. If it is, add it to your calendar right from the app.

Tired of driving around different neighborhoods trying to determine if they’re a good fit for your family? Where’s the nearest grocery store? What’s that shady-looking character doing on the street corner? Now you can do it digitally. View the map of your target areas through a number of helpful lenses, like where schools and restaurants are located, or where crime rates are lowest. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll spend less time pounding the pavement so you can have more of your weekend back.

2. Align with your agent to create an Open House viewing list. Via the app, share the properties that you think you’d like to visit on the weekend with your agent. Ask them to do the same, sharing any properties they think you should view at Open House time with you. Then, check in via phone or email to firm up the list so they can plan out an efficient map, do some deep dive research into any property-specific questions you have in advance, and to make sure you don’t have any surprises in the form of places you really wanted to see that don’t make your agent’s list for whatever reason. Do the prep work and get on the same page with your agent in advance. It’ll make your two hours of Open House Hunting as productive as a less well-prepared buyer’s two weeks worth.

One more thing. Making sure your agent knows you are really excited about a particular property at Open House time allows them to touch base with the listing agent and let them know you might have some interest. That way, if they happen to get an offer from another buyer between the time you mention the place to your agent and Open House time, your agent will probably get a call. This prevents you from getting the awful surprise that happens when a great place goes into contract before you can see it.

3. Take notes, and compare them. After every home you see, spend a moment taking down some notes – ideally in writing or on your app – that just help you remember which property features went with which address/price/listing. Once you’ve seen 5 or 10 or 25 homes, they begin to blur, and it often comes up that you’ll want to look back and reference a particular home you visited in a later conversation with your agent or your partner. Having a few notes on your initial impressions, questions, concerns, loves and dislikes about each property prevents you from being frustrated when you later want to have a conversation about it.

Ideally, after each property you see or, at the latest, at the end of your Open House tour on a given day, you’ll also take and compare your notes about the properties you saw that day. I suggest listing out the good (what you liked), the bad (what you disliked), the ugly (any serious deal-killers) and then also the great elements for each property. Think of the great as being akin to clicking the Facebook “Like” button for a property, if that Like button were amped up to “Love.” The Great are those features – or combination of features – so strong that the property is something you’d consider writing an offer on.

The goal here is three-fold:

▪   to give you the ability to compare properties without relying 100% on memory.

▪   to allow you to give substantive feedback to your agent that will help them help you prioritize new listings as they come on the market and learn what you are looking for at a nuanced level

▪   to allow you to compare notes at the end of each Open House Hunting session with your agent or your partner (whoever you’re buying the property with), and to be able to compare pros, cons and takeaways substantively, rather than just saying you liked it or disliked it.

4. Use Open Houses as a screening tool. Here’s the other thing that taking good Open House viewing notes on each property does: it helps you narrow down all the places that looked kind of interesting to a short list for second takes. Good notes, organized by Great, Good, Bad and Ugly can help if you were hypnotized by beautiful staging or turned off unduly by ugly, easily fixable cosmetics. If you love a place, but it still has a lot of bad or ugly line items, or you dislike a place that actually has a lot of “Great” things about it, you can ask your agent to arrange for a private, second viewing before making an offer or totally crossing it off the list.

Communication with your Realtor is so important!  We cannot read your mind and the more we know about what you want – the better we are prepared to find your dream home!

I read this article at:  http://tips.truliablog.com/2014/02/4-ways-to-supercharge-your-house-hunt/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=tips.truliablog.com%2F2014%2F02%2F4-ways-to-supercharge-your-house-hunt%2F

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