The Right Way To Make Your Bed When Your Home Is Listed For Sale

Well-made beds aren’t just for comfort — they’re for presentation, too.   Especially when you’re selling your home.   A pristine bed conveys an image of cleanliness and order to potential home buyers and that can help you get more of your asking price at the point of negotiation.

When homeowners don’t take the time to make a bed, buyers wonder what else around the home is getting neglected.

And there’s a proper way to make a bed, too.

In this 15-step video from Howcast, you’ll learn how to start with a stripped down mattress, add bedding, pillows and a blanket, and end with the hotel-quality look that today’s home buyers expect.   The alternative is to leave a bed sloppy, reducing your home’s overall appeal.

To make a bed the right way takes less than 2 minutes. When your home is listed for sale, make making the bed a part of your daily routine.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Spring 2010 FHA Guidelines Make Borrowing Tougher And More Expensive

New FHA guidelinesSecuring an FHA mortgage is about to get more expensive.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Federal Housing Authority outlined policy changes to its mortgage assistance program. The shift is meant to both reduce the government group’s portfolio risk while strengthening its overall financials.

For consumers, the changes mean higher costs.

As listed in the official announcement, there are 3 major guideline updates for the FHA:

  1. Upfront mortgage insurance premiums are increasing to 2.25% from 1.75%
  2. Minimum downpayments for applicants with sub-580 FICOs are rising to 10 percent
  3. Seller concessions are being limited to 3%, down from today’s allowable 6%

Furthermore, the FHA has appealed to Congress to raise an FHA borrowers’ monthly mortgage insurance premiums.

To read the FHA’s statement, it’s clear what the group is trying to balance.  On one side, the FHA wants to provide affordable financing to families that need it. That’s its mission statement. On the other side, though, the FHA must manage the risk that comes with insuring lesser-quality loans.

To that end, the FHA is stepping up its enforcement of “bad lenders” in hopes of stopping problems where they start.

Also in its new policies, the FHA is introducing a “termination clause”. If banks or loan officers that produce more than their fair share of bad loans, they lose their right to originate FHA mortgages.

As a result, homebuyers should expect tougher FHA underwriting in 2010. Not because the FHA says so, necessarily, but because banks don’t want to do “bad loans”.  Lenders are incented to turn down at-risk applicants and, already, we’re seeing examples of this. Despite FHA allowing 580 FICOs and lower, many banks have made 620 their minimum.

Some have other guideline overlays, too.

The FHA’s new guidelines don’t go into effect until spring.  So, between now and then, the old guidelines will apply.  Therefore, if you know you’re going to need an FHA home loan in the next few months, consider moving up your time-frame.

If nothing else, you’ll save some money at closing.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


There’s 100 Days Left To Claim The Homebuyer Tax Credit

100 days remain for the Home Buyer Tax Credit ExpirationNovember 6, 2009, Congress voted to extend and expand the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit program.  There’s 100 days left to claim it.

The expiration date of the up-to-$8,000 tax credit has been pushed forward to spring, requiring homebuyers to be under contract for a home no later than April 30, 2010, and to be closed no later than June 30, 2010.

In addition, “move-up” buyers were also added to the program’s eligibility list meaning you don’t have to be a first-time home buyer to be eligible for the tax credit.  If you’ve lived in your home for 5 of the last 8 years, you meet the IRS requirements.

Move-up buyers are capped at a total tax credit of $6,500.

The tax credit’s basic eligibility requirements remain the same:

  • You can’t purchase the home from a parent, spouse, or child
  • You can’t purchase the home from an entity in which they’re a majority owner
  • You can’t acquire the home by gift or inheritance
  • All parties to the purchase must meet eligibility requirements

The new law includes some notable updates, however. 

First, the subject property’s sales price may not exceed $800,000. Homes sold for more than $800,000 are ineligible.  And, also, household income thresholds have been raised to $125,000 for single-filers and $225,500 for joint-filers.

And lastly, don’t forget that the program is a true tax credit — not a deduction.  This means that a tax filer who’s eligible for the full $8,00 credit and whose “normal” tax liability totals $5,000 would receive a $3,000 refund from the U.S. Treasury at tax time.

The complete list of qualifying criteria is posted on the IRS website.  Review it with a tax professional to determine your eligibility.  Then mark your calendar for April 30, 2010.

There’s just 100 days to go.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Interesting Homes : The Skinniest Home In The City Sells For $2.1 Million

Skinny car is wider than a houseThe next time you think you’ve outgrown your home, imagine what life would be like in New York City’s “skinniest home”. It’s barely wider than your wingspan.

In Greenwich Village, there’s a single-family, 3-story residence in which the interior living space width measures just 8 1/2-feet. By way of reference, that’s 4 inches more narrow than the Smart Fortwo electric automobile.

Even the home’s USPS street address hints at its size.  Built on an alleyway, nestled between 75 Bedford Street and 77 Bedford Street, the diminutive home is officially known as 75 1/2 Bedford.

It just sold for $2.1 million.

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About the Author:  The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.

 

(Image courtesy: Wikipedia)


RealtyTrac’s 2009 Foreclosure Report Gives Reason For Optimism

Foreclosure deltas for the ten most foreclosure-heavy states of 2009

Like real estate, it appears that foreclosure activity is a local phenomenon, too.

As reported by RealtyTrac.com, more than half of all foreclosure-related activity in 2009 came from just 4 states:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Arizona
  4. Illinois

More than 1.4 million filings made in 2009 are attributed to the above states. Furthermore, each ranks in the Top 10 for 2009 Foreclosures Per Capita.

The other states are Nevada, Utah, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan and Colorado.

Versus 2008, foreclosures are up 21 percent nationwide and that’s a big number, but a deeper look at RealtyTrac’s annual reports reveals a more positive undertone on the housing market.

  1. 40 states fell below the national Foreclosures Per Capita average in 2009
  2. Foreclosure activity fell on an annual basis in 10 states as compared to 2008

Foreclosures are still prevalent, though, and buying homes in foreclosure continues to be big business.  First-time buyers, move-up buyers, and real estate investors each are bidding aggressively.

Distressed homes account for one-third of home resale activity, according to an industry trade group.

That said, buying foreclosures can be tricky.

First, properties are often sold “as-is” and the cost of repairs may unwind the home’s status as a “value buy”.  Furthermore, a lender may require specific fixes to be made prior to closing and that, too, costs money.

Second, buying a foreclosed home isn’t as streamlined as buying a “normal” home. Closing on a foreclosure can be a 120-day process or longer. A 4-month time-frame may not fit your schedule.

And, third, finding foreclosures can be difficult. Despite the growth in foreclosure search engines, it still takes a good real estate agent to uncover the best homes at the best prices.

Read the complete foreclosure report and take a peek at RealtyTrac’s foreclosure heat maps.  If you like what you see, talk to your real estate agent about what to do next.

There’s still good deals in the foreclosure market — you just have to know where to find them

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


10 Cities For Home Bargains

As the housing market improves across the country, certain cities are emerging as relative bargains.  Some areas, like Miami, were hit hard by the recession, and other areas are buoyed by good school systems and strong labor markets.

In this 5-minute video from The Today Show, 10 cities are highlighted for their home prices.  And they’re not “small towns”, either. 

Among the featured cities:

  • Miami, Florida
  • Akron, Ohio
  • Tuscon, Arizona
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Trenton, New Jersey

Now, this piece is about finding gems on a national scale.  They exist locally , too.  You just need to know what to look for.

With mortgage rates low and tax credits available, it’s not likely that bargains will last.  Contact me to help you find your gem, your piece of Marin.

_____________________________________________________________________

About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


2010 FHA Loan Limits Released

2010 FHA Loan LimitsFHA home loans are federal assistance mortgages made by lenders, and backed by the government. The FHA doesn’t make loans to homeowners — it insures loans made to homeowners by federally-qualified lenders.

By all accounts, FHA home loans are surging in popularity.

  • 2006, FHA insured 3.3% of all mortgages made
  • Q2 2009, FHA insured 19.2% of all mortgages made

A major reason for the increase can be tied to guidelines.

As compared to its conforming mortgage cousins Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FHA home loans have lower downpayment requirements and looser credit standards. The FHA allows downpayments of 3.5 percent and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not, as an example.

Another reason is that FHA home loans aren’t subject to credit score fees the way that conforming mortgages are. Through Fannie or Freddie, a home buyer with a 650 FICO and 20% down is subject to 3% in risk fees.  Via the FHA, the fee is zero, making FHA the better “deal”.

The FHA published its 2010 loan limits. There’s no change from 2009.

The base 2010 FHA loan limits are:

  • 1-unit : $271,050
  • 2-unit : $347,000
  • 3-unit : $419,400
  • 4-unit : $521,250

We say “base” because these loan limits don’t apply to all areas equally.  Higher-cost regions get higher loan limits, based on typical home values. Homes in Los Angeles County, for example, can be FHA-insured up to $729,750 in 2010, and there are special exceptions made for Alaska and Hawaii.

The official FHA announcement included a complete, county-by-county FHA loan limit list. The first spreadsheet shows each county at or above the $729,750 maximum; the second list is everyone else.

If your home’s county is on neither list, use the “base” numbers above.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.