STOP in the name of Low Mortgage Rates

Seriously, stop what you are doing.

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BECAUSE, low mortgage rates = amazing opportunities for buyers, sellers, or homeowners looking to refinance!

While rates on mortgages change daily, they are currently holding steady at near record lows. In fact, according to the Bankrate.com rates have not been this low since December 2012!  The graphic below demonstrates the drop in rates from just last week.

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Both 15-year and 30-year mortgage rates are down more than 0.5% since the start of the year.

What does this mean for buyers?

This drop in rates means that those looking to buy have experienced a purchase power increase of 7%…meaning that buyers who could afford an $800,000 home in December can now afford an $852,000 home!  For many on the house-hunt, this increase in purchase power could put their dream home just in reach!

What does this mean for sellers?

Lower mortgage rates translate to a surplus of buyers looking to take advantage of their higher purchasing power; which means you, as a seller, have the ability to get top dollar for your home! More active buyers are out looking increases the desirability of your home.. making it a hot commodity.

What does this mean for refinancers?

Refinancing gives a homeowner access to a new mortgage loan which replaces the existing one. The details of the new loan’s mortgage rate, loan length in years, and amount borrowed can customized by the homeowner. Thus, refinancing during a period of lower mortgage rates could benefit borrowers by lowering their monthly housing payments and/or shortening the term of their mortgage.

For a personalized rate, check out this helpful site: http://themortgagereports.com/ratequote/

Remember: Mortgage rates change quickly and there is no guarantee that these rates will last. Whether you are a seller or a buyer, it is time to take advantage of the current market!

R E A P – Find Out What It Means To Me .. & You!

Ever been scanning across apartment listings in LA and been confused by the statement “Property in REAP. Looking for an all-cash buyer”? You are not alone. Read on for a brief synopsis on the program and whom it affects.

What exactly is REAP?

The Rent Escrow Account Program has been established by the City of Los Angeles and exists to resolve health, safety and habitability issues found in rental properties. It essentially functions to protect tenants from unsound housing, while also preserving the value of LA’s properties and housing developments.

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How does REAP work?

Rental properties and units get placed in REAP if they do not correct cited health, safety and Housing Code violations within the allotted time. This placement may be appealed by the landlord, but once the decision to put a property into REAP is finalized a rent reduction is put in place. Based on the severity of the violations, the reduction may be between 10% to 50% of the monthly rent.

The tenant may continue to pay the reduced monthly rate to the landlord or he or she can opt to send the payments to an escrow account established by the Housing & Community Investment Department of Los Angeles (HCIDLA).

Tenants will be alerted that their rental property is in REAP via mail or by a visit from one of REAP’s outreach counselors. An outreach counselor is assigned to every case and is accountable for educating the tenants and the landlord on their respective rights and responsibilities within the program.

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How is the property owner affected?

Once a property or unit is put into REAP, the HCIDLA also records a notice on the property’s title. This notice alerts potential buyers and their lenders, that there is a problem with the property.. which means that no one will lend to the owner or attempt to buy the property using a loan – this is why REAP properties are required to sell for cash. The owner is also charged a monthly administration fee of $50. Owners are further negatively impacted by spending more money on repairs while simultaneously being required to lower rental rents.

How does a property get taken OUT of REAP?

 A property remains in REAP until the HCIDLA can verify that the violations have been  resolved and that all the issues have been signed off on by a Department inspector.  Once the HDICLA confirms that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power bills have all been paid off, the City Council will evaluate (and most likely) approve the property’s removal from the program. Tenants will be alerted by mail that the property has been removed from the program and that required rent has been reverted back to it’s normal rate. It is important to note that if a tenant has been paying rent through an escrow account that they are required to return to directly paying his or her landlord.

Know your responsibilities as a land lord so REAP does not happen to you, as well as your rights as tenant when it comes to the quality of your rental property.

For more information on the Rent Escrow Account Program, check out the HDCILA’s info page: http://hcidla.lacity.org/what-is-reap-for-renters

Special Announcement!

Weber Accetta Headshot and Logo

Hi Everyone!

I’m really excited to announce that Michelle Accetta and I have officially joined forces are now business partners of The Weber Accetta Real Estate Group! Michelle is a top producing agent at her brokerage, Beach City Brokers, and while I remain at Hunter Mason Realty we are coming together and taking our business to the next level by forming a team!
A lot of people have been asking us how we are able to work together while being at different brokerages. The simple answer from a contractual standpoint is that all the paperwork will state Lauren Weber and Michelle Accetta as your agents and Hunter Mason Realty and Beach City Brokers as your brokerages. But how cool is that?! Both of our brokers fully support our partnership and are on board with what we are up to. Moving forward, all of our past and future clients receive the benefits of being represented by the both of us as well as both our brokerages.
It has been exciting and a lot of fun working, growing, and learning together. While a lot of our business practices remain the same, we have expanded our services in the sharing of our best (secret weapon) practices and ideas, while implementing our favorite tools, methods, and creating systems to be the most efficient and effective for our clients!
Michelle and I share the same vision and goals for our business, however the biggest reason we work well together is because we share the same love, respect, and integrity in serving our clients. Our main focuses are to cultivate meaningful relationships with our clients, bring top of the line A+ luxury service to all our clients, and to do it all while having a lot of FUN! Buying and selling your home should be a memorable experience. We strive to make it as easy and fun as possible!
When it comes down to negotiations and the nitty gritty part of our job, we love being able to put our heads together and form strategies that get our clients the best results. It’s be really exciting to see these things in action. We’ve already closed 5 deals together, and we are just getting started!
For those of you who have not met Michelle yet, you are in for a treat! She is one of the most hardworking, smartest, badasses (is that a word?), boss lady I’ve ever met. AND she does it all with a great attitude and lots and LOTS of positive and contagious energy! I am so honored and proud to have partnered up with such an amazing person. I know all of you will love her just as much as I do!
Cheers to the Weber Accetta Real Estate Group! We are so thankful to have you as a part of our growing community and excited for the years to come!
Check out our new website: www.weberaccetta.com

Congratulations to the Nguyen Family!!!

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I am so happy to announce that the Nguyen family closed escrow and are officially new home owners! From the moment I met the young couple I knew I was going to enjoy working with them and it was a bonus that I also got to meet and work closely with their parents as well. This kind and genuine family is so deserving of this beautiful home and I couldn’t be happier for them. What an eventful year of getting married, having their first baby, and buying a house! I feel so honored to have been a part of such an exciting time in their lives.

The first time we viewed this house was at the end of the day and a bit dark. I typically don’t like to show property in the evening in the event that the house is vacant and there are no ceiling lights, it makes it difficult to get a good idea of how the space looks and feels. They liked the house but it was one of the first homes that they saw so we continued our search. A couple days and a dozen houses later, the couple still liked this house the best so I suggested we re-visit it to see it in the daylight. The second trip over was not planned but was perfect timing, and what I like to think as “fate”, because when we arrived the sellers as well as their agent were there. I truly believe that everyone crossing paths helped to get our offer accepted in a multiple offer situation. It is so important to be represented by an agent that works well with other agents. Collaborating together to work as a “team” can make all the difference in having a good or bad escrow. I knew that this agent was going to be a pleasure to work with and to everyone’s benefit, escrow was a smooth and successful process.

Establishing a friendly and professional relationship with other agents has always been a top priority of mine. I know it is a key ingredient to getting my client’s offer accepted as well as having a smooth escrow. People may think that the other agent is the competition so it’s not a priority to develop a relationship. However, I believe that it is these relationships help in negotiating during escrow. I was able to represent my clients with their best interest at hand and got their house tented and completely fumigated as well as install a brand new roof! I believe all parties involved in this transaction have come out of escrow happy and to everyone’s benefit we were able to close early.

Congratulations again to the Nguyen family and best wishes for many happy years filled with great memories in their new home!

Congratulations to the Viados!!!

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I had the privilege of meeting and working with Katherine and Luis Viado and their beautiful family to find this place which they now can call home! Since the very beginning I have been impressed with this family. They were on a hunt to find a house and even though there isn’t much inventory for sale, they were aggressively and actively looking. I would say that it was because of their determination and proactive approach that we were able to get into escrow within less than a months worth of searching. We were in communication everyday and when I sent them a listing they liked they made time to go drive by the property right away (usually the same day I sent the listing even if it meant after the sun went down). Because they made themselves available we were usually one of the first ones to view the property which gave them the opportunity to submit an offer if they really liked it. Although they lost to investors and higher offers on a couple of houses, the stay committed, determined, and did not lose sight of their dream of finding a home. When we found this home they listened to my advice and followed my directions and we got our offer accepted! To top things off everyone involved in the transaction worked together diligently and we were able to close a week early! 

Some tips that the Viados might give to you to get in and out of escrow quickly:
-Listen to Lauren’s advice!!! 🙂
-Be available to go see new listings right away
-Drive by the property at day and/or night to be sure that you like the neighborhood
-Submit a cover letter and photo with your offer
-Stay in good communication (email, text messages, phone calls)
-Have a good attitude 

I couldn’t be happier for this wonderful family, they are well deserving of this awesome home!

IMG_8178*Katherine is missing from the photos 😦

What’s The Difference Between A Buyer’s Home Inspection and A City Inspection?

Buyers:
One of the first steps after getting into escrow is for the buyer to schedule a home inspection. Your inspector will do a thorough inspection including things such as: testing appliances, checking electrical boxes and wiring, crawling under the house (if there is crawl space) to see if there are signs of pests or leaks, checking the attic, etc. I highly encourage my client’s to do this as soon as possible so that we can become aware of any major issues and hire any specialists if the inspector advises further investigation (ie: plumbing, roof, fireplace). Doing your home inspection right away will also allow for more time to negotiate repairs with the seller if needed. A home inspection can run anywhere form $200-$400 depending on the size of the property and the service you choose.

Sellers:
In the Los Angeles County some cities require that you get a pre sale inspection. This has to be ordered directly through the city and has to be scheduled by the seller. There are some exemptions to this inspection but in most cases the city will not allow escrow to close with out clearance on your city inspection. Some cities may even require that you do your inspection prior to placing your home on the market. Every city has different requirements, some search for healthy and safety issues while others are looking strictly to see that any additions have been done with permits or up to city code. I have included a list of cities in the Los Angeles County that require a pre sale inspection. City inspections can range anywhere from $100-$200.

Buyers and Sellers:
If you are going to be buying or selling in one of the cites that require an inspection I urge you to visit the cities website or call to see what is required. A city inspection can take a couple weeks to be scheduled so to insure a smooth escrow, it would be wise to order this sooner than later. I highly recommend that the city inspection should not be done in replace of a buyers home inspection.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or real estate needs: LaurenW@hmsold.com

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*List provided by Orange Coast Title

 

5 Expenses To Remember When Buying A Home

Buying a new home is a very exciting time, so much that additional expenses can easily be overlooked.  While an estimated mortgage payment includes interest rates, homeowners insurance, and possibly mortgage insurance, it does not take into account every expense that comes along with the responsibility of becoming a homeowner. Below is a list of the top 5 expenses people tend to overlook when calculating not only a budget to buy a home but also some reoccurring monthly fees.

1. Closing Costs
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Most buyers are aware that there are closing costs involved with purchasing a house. However, not everyone is aware of exactly how much to budget for this cost. I tell my clients to estimate around 3% of the purchase price to allocate to closing costs. So if you are purchasing a house at $500,000 closing costs should be around $15,000.  Some lenders may offer different programs to  alleviate some of these costs and depending on the deal, your realtor can also negotiate for sellers to pay for some of the closing costs. But in any case, buyers should be financially able to pay all closing costs. These costs include things such as: escrow fees, lender fees, title transfer, title insurance, inspection fees, etc.

2. Maintenance Repairs
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If you were previously renting, most likely all of your maintenance problems were handled by your landlord. For all homeowners, it would be a good idea to have a separate savings account or a specific amount of money always saved up incase of any emergency situations. If you negotiated a home warranty into your purchase contract it is usually only good for one year and has limited coverage. So it is always better to be safe and prepared with any maintenance repairs that may arise.

3. Utilities and Landscape/Exterior Maintenance
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During escrow it would be a good idea to ask the previous owner about their monthly utility bills to get a general idea of what to expect. If they do not want to disclose this information to you, you can always do your own research by calling service providers or visiting your local city website. If you plan on hiring a gardener or yard maintenance service provider you can ask the local neighbors who they use and at what prices they charge.

4. Windows
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Windows can easily be looked over and not taken into consideration as a cost. Depending on the seller, they may have customized window curtains or blinds that they may take with them during the move. If the house is a remodel, there is a chance that there may not be any window coverings. Keep this factor in mind when touring homes and make a mental note of approximately how many windows you will need to budget for.

5.Taxes
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Most lenders will recommend setting up an impound account to collect a certain amount of money on a monthly basis (usually factored into your monthly mortgage payment) to set aside for taxes so that you are not hit with a large tax bill at the end of the year with no money to pay for it. However, what a lot of people forget is that being a homeowner has the benefits of being able to use the monthly mortgage interest as an annual tax deductible.

Becoming a homeowner is a big responsibility, but if you do your research and budget correctly you can enjoy the benefits with peace of mind in your real estate investment!

If you are looking to buy or sell a home at this time and would like additional information feel free to email me at LaurenW@hmsold.com or visit my website http://www.LaurenTWeber.com

Count Your Blessings Every Day and Dream Big! 

Hello my Weber Weekly readers!
This week I wanted to give you guys a little inspiration to take with you whether you are interested in buying or selling real estate or not. Over the past couple of weeks I have been reflecting a lot on the importance of having a positive attitude and mindset. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of everyday life and we are all guilty of sometimes stressing over the little stuff, but what helps me get through these things is taking a moment to pause and reflect on all the amazing things that I am blessed with in my life. One little shift in my thought process can make all the difference to push me over almost any hurdle or challenge. It’s the motivation and positivity that helps me clear my mind to find a solution which I would have otherwise been blinded from had I remained focused on problem at hand. To begin this change of mindset you can start small with the things immediately surrounding you. Thinking things like “I am blessed to have air in my lungs, I am grateful for the roof over my head, I am thankful to have clothes on my back and food in my stomach…” The list can be endless if you count every little blessing, leading up to “I am thankful to have the opportunity to overcome this challenge to learn from and grow as a person”.
It may sound silly, but the next time you feel yourself frustrated or stressed out give it a try. Step away from the issue, breath, count your blessings, and then make a decision to move forward once you can start to feel your warm your heart.

As Winston Churchill once said:
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

I choose to be an optimist and I try to apply this in my personal and professional life. Along with being an optimist I am also a dreamer. I believe that you can do anything you set your mind to. If you have a goal in mind, create a roadmap of how you are going to get there, and if you have the right attitude to be consistent and persistent you will eventually get there.

It is with this attitude of being an optimist and a dreamer that I can truly say I LOVE what I do. How cool is it that I get to help people pursue their own dreams of becoming a home owner or selling their home for a new opportunity in their life! With this I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes. It is with my highest hopes that you can take something from this weeks blog and apply it to your life wherever you see fit. Have a fabulous day, the choice is yours!

“Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

-Stephen R. Covey

“Cherish your visions. Cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.”

– James Allen

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”

Wilma Rudolph

And…. one of my favorite inspirational speeches.