Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Exposing common real estate, housing, and rental scams. (Scams #6-10)

Real estate scams are a lot more prevalent than you may think, and California is home to four out of the top ten zip codes ( and ten out of the top 25) when it comes to real estate criminals and fraudsters.

In fact, each year, billions of dollars are siphoned off illegitimately by criminals who set out to sham the real estate, mortgage, and housing system.

The FBI reports that guilty parties include Realtors, mortgage brokers, loan officers, lenders, appraisers, underwriters, accountants, attorneys, land developers, investors, builders, bankers, escrow and title employees, and plenty of landlords, renters, and plain old lawbreakers.

In part one of this series, we exposed five common real estate and mortgage scams, In this blog, we bring you scams no. 6-10.

6. Last minute closing scam
This scam takes advantage of the stress, confusion, and time-crunch many home buyers feel towards the end of their transaction. The first step is for hackers to tap into the email account of a real estate agent, broker, transaction coordinator, or title company (that’s a lot easier than you think!)

Next, they get the names, addresses, contact numbers, and other pertinent information for the homebuyer in the transaction. The night before the closing - or at some critical juncture at the 11 1/2 hour before the home closes – the buyers will get a phone call at home from someone from the title company.

They inform the buyers that there's been some minor change or some bit of accounting needs to be cleaned up. Maybe they have to submit a new deposit, closing cost amount, or even were overcharged and will be getting a refund check back, but either way, the caller gives them new wiring instructions or gets their bank account information.

The only problem is that the title representative on the phone actually was the con artist, and by the time the buyers call their real estate agent or title company the next day to check in or get an update, their bank account has been cleaned out and their purchase funds are long gone. Ouch!

7. “I’ll sell your home or buy it myself” scam
I’m sure you’ve seen signs saying just this – usually on the side of the road or a corner in a marginal neighborhood. While the real estate agent/company making this offer may not be trying to steal from you per se, they know the offer is a glorified scam because no one is ever going to buy your house themselves…never…ever.

Instead, they use it as an unscrupulous marketing gimmick just to get more listings and home buyers.

When you call the number from that sign, you probably won't even reach a licensed real estate agent. But if you do, they'll come out to your house and have you sign an unusual listing agreement that includes an asking price determined by the agent which home buyers would NEVER agree to, nor would it appraise.

They will also have you sign off on pre-determined price breaks and a contract that you will use this agent only to buy a house – and maybe even a house only from a pool of the company's other listings.

Very quickly, that dream offer turned into a nightmare for home sellers.

8. Renting a vacant house
This one of the oldest and most prevalent real estate scams, and its attraction for criminals is its simplicity. The con artist will drive by a vacant home, whether it's foreclosed, already for sale by an absentee owner, a vacation home, or just unoccupied. They kick in the side door or come in through a window and then change the locks immediately.

Now that they have possession of the home, they only need to change the sign in the front yard to "For Rent" with their number, as well as list in as a rental on Craigs List. They advertise the home at a discounted rent to create a lot of interest, and take scores of applications.

The plot thickens when every one of these applicants gets a call back with the good news that the house is theirs to rent – but they need to come up with the first month's rent and security deposit ASAP to hold it.

Hypothetically, with twenty applicants giving $3,000 each, you can see how the con artist can produce a large amount of cash in a short time. Of course, when the renters – all twenty of them – show up to move in, they'll find the house vacant again and the criminal long gone with their phone number disconnected.

9. Title fraud
While it may be less common than simple rental and real estate scams, title fraud is one of the most dangerous – and costly – of all housing crimes. In this scam, the con artist falsifies documents to prove that they are the legal and rightful owner of a home or plot of land. It's not hard to do, as public records will supply all of the information and documents they need to replicate, and a computer with Photoshop will do the rest.

Once they have these new title documents, the fraudster can use them in a variety of ways to commandeer cash. Many times, their scheme entails applying for a mortgage loan for the property such as a Home Equity Line of Credit, cash-out refinance, or private "Hard Money" loan. Of course, they'll take all of this cash, but leave the rightful owner confused and shocked when they get notifications for payments overdue.

10. Foreclosure bailout scams
There are many grifts, rackets, and hustles that fall under the wide umbrella of foreclosure bailout scams, which spread like wildfire during the real estate crash and Great Recession.

These can focus on the mortgage side of home ownership, like shady mortgage renegotiation companies that collect big amounts of up-front money but get little or no results, bogus forensic loan audits, or other loan assumption scams.

There are also plenty of criminals and unlawful firms that will take advantage of stressed and desperate home owners who are facing foreclosure. Often, these scammers pretend to be affiliated with a legitimate governmental foreclosure agency, like HUD, NeighborWorks, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) or the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). Just by sending letters on their letterhead, sending emails or cold calling these homeowners – all easily trackable on public lists of defaulting mortgages – the con artists have an opening.

From there, they may entice the trusting homeowner into offering fees for service, making mortgage payments to them directly, offering a short sale that is really just another scam, or even signing over the home.

They also may claim to have an angel investor or foreclosure bailout program that will buy the home from them and then lease it back to them, which the homeowner loves because it means they don’t have to move and can win back their home. However, after six months to a year of making high monthly lease payments, they realize that the home is still going to foreclosure and the “investor” did nothing more than pocket their funds and not make payments to the bank.

The bottom line is that you should be informed, verify who someone is when they contact you, stay in very close communication with your legitimate Realtor, loan officer, and title company, and report any activity that seems fishy! Contact us if you would like any more information about real estate and mortgage scams – and how to avoid them.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The state of the luxury real estate market: 2017-2018 and beyond

You've probably seen articles, news features, and social media posts about our red-hot real estate market lately. But rarely do they talk about the luxury market specifically, leaving buyers and sellers of high-end, million dollar, and luxury homes in the dark. So we thought we'd present you the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date data on the luxury real estate market. 

Sales of luxury homes have skyrocketed in 2017, with Q2 sales up 7.5 percent from just one year ago, with the average luxury home selling for $1.79 million across the U.S.

This also marks the first time since 2014 or before (that’s the year they started tracking this specific data) that luxury home sale appreciation has outperformed the appreciation for all home sales.

Basically, the top 5 percent of most expensive homes are selling more robustly than the bottom 95 percent!

According to industry data, which defines a luxury home as one in the top 5 percent of most expensive homes in each city, the luxury home market has experienced a transformative shift, from a lagging and stagnant sector of the housing market to the forefront of activity.

But it seems to be the low-end of the luxury market (so to speak) that’s thriving the most. Sales of homes with a price tag of $1 million or more are up 22.2 percent from last year, while sales of homes priced at or above $5 million are up 19.6 percent.

Despite these price increases, sales volume is down. In fact, the number of listings priced $1 million or higher have dropped 9.4 percent compared to one year ago, and those in the $5 million and up price range have fallen about the same percentage.

That indicates an inventory shortage in the luxury market (mirroring the overall real estate trend), reversing a glut of double-digit inventory growth for five consecutive quarters prior.

Experts point to several factors that have contributed to this state of luxury home sales.

For one, there is a historical precedent that when the stock market is booming, the luxury home market does exceedingly well. But the biggest reason for the luxury market’s renewed vigor may be a change in the mindset of sellers. Analysts point to the theory that owners of million dollar-and-up luxury homes were flat out setting listing prices that the market wouldn’t bear.

Looking to cash in on the greater market’s steady climb, luxury listings were priced higher than buyers were willing to spend. Collectively, that resulted in fewer luxury home sales, greater Days on Market, and general price depreciation. But almost en masse with the start of 2017, sellers have gotten more realistic, reducing prices to levels more attractive to luxury home buyers.

Once luxury listings began to close, that created a supply shortage that further invigorated the market.

The result? The floodgates are open on high-end, million dollar plus, and luxury listings like we haven’t seen since perhaps before the real estate crash and recession.

While luxury listings may be selling like hot cakes, it's still a market dictated by buyers – and what they're willing to pay. Consider that only 1 in 50 luxury homes sold above list price in the Q2 of 2017 (compared to at least 1 in 4 homes that sold for above asking price in the bottom 95 percent).

How about the luxury market in California?

During the January to March first quarter of 2017, 10,562 homes sold for $1 million or more in California. That represents an 11.7 percent year over year increase and also the highest number on record for a first quarter.

During that same time span, 2,523 homes sold for $2 million or more, which is an 11.8 percent increase from the same period last year and also a record.

Irvine, California led the entire nation for year-to-year price appreciation in the luxury real estate market, with an astounding 37.4 percent increase over this time last year, to an average sale price of $3.5 million.

Long Beach, California and nearby Reno, Nevada saw price increases of over 25 percent for luxury homes, too.

The five zip codes with the highest number of million dollar or greater home sales last quarter were 92620 (Irvine); 92130 (San Diego, including Carmel Valley); 95125 (San Jose); 92037 (La Jolla, San Diego); and 92651 (Laguna Beach).

About 78 percent of the $1 million and up home sales were existing (not new) homes; only about 11 percent were condominiums, and 31 percent of all $1 million and up sales were cash purchases.

Do you have questions about buying or selling a luxury home or would like more information? Contact us any time.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Signs, signs, everywhere signs (of the real estate market)

Signs, signs, everywhere signs, 
blockin' out the scenery, 
breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, 
can't you read the signs?

So goes the old 1970s song originally by Five Man Electric Band but redone by Sacramento's own Tesla in 1990. Those lyrics certainly still apply not only to highway billboards and guide posts along old country roads, but also signs of things to come in just about every aspect of the economy. In fact, there are signs we can look for that will tell us if the market is on the rise or ready for a slight decline; a seller’s or a buyer’s market.

Of course, home sales don’t act in a vacuum and things never line up perfectly, so some cities or regions may show several conflicting signs at the same time. But, in general, by tracking certain telltale data, we can see trends in the real estate market and know when it’s a smart time buy, sell, or invest.

Signs of a hot (sellers) market:

1. Buyer demand is high, especially in the starter and mid-price ranges.

2. At the same time, housing inventory is low, feeding demand.

3. Based on that combination, sales keep closing at steadily rising prices.

4. Houses don’t stay for sale long, with Days on Market low and dropping.

5. The volume of home sales is higher than average and increasing.

6. You’ll see multiple and competing offers on many listings.

7. Sellers offer few amenities, credits, or incentives to buyers.

8. You see few price reductions, as home usually sell at or above asking price.

9. Realtors see a lot of traffic on their listings, including on-line and in-person visits.

10. In fact, the release of new listings are often an event unto themselves!

Signs of a cooling (buyers) market:

1. Unlike a seller’s market, you’ll actually see increases in the housing inventory available.

2. The Days on Market climbs steadily as homes don’t sell nearly as quickly.

3. Even when priced right, sellers see fewer offers on their listings, and far less bidding wars or competing offers.

4. Listings get less online and in-person views, and there is far less traffic at open houses.

5. Increasingly-desperate sellers start reducing prices at a greater rate.

6. They also start offering more incentives and credits to attract and appease potential buyers.

7. Bucking the trend of ever-escalating prices, new listings are priced at the level of recent closed sales or even lower.

8. Homes also sell for a smaller percentage of their original list price.

9. Due to decreasing demand, the volume of sales starts to lag.

10. Real estate ads get bigger, louder, and more extravagant!

Like we mentioned, these are just signs that point to a destination, but there are many stops along the way. Somewhere in between a white-hot seller’s market with fast-climbing prices and a stagnant buyer’s market with price declines sits many degrees of more balanced markets.

Here are some signs of a balanced or neutral market:

1. Inventory levels are normal compared to previous years.

2. There is no excess or surplus of housing inventory, with three to six months active inventory considered a normal range.

3. New listings are priced at or near prices of recently closed listings.

4. Sales volume is consistent and typical with the same season in previous years.

5. Median sales prices have stabilized, which can mean a normal negative or positive range with no huge spikes or valleys in prices.

6. Homes that are priced correctly sell within a typical 30 to 60 days, but Days on Market aren’t abnormally high or low.

7. Real estate ads (and blogs!) are a little smaller and less loud again!

Of course, Sacramento is in an extremely hot seller’s market right now, with a huge inventory crunch, rampant demand following redevelopment in the region, low interest rates, steep competition for buyers, and rising equity for sellers and homeowners.

But in the coming months and years as the market goes through normal and healthy seasonal and market corrections, you’ll be able to identify some of the signs along the way!

Friday, July 28, 2017

25 facts about Habitat for Humanity, the nation's 6th largest home builder that heals communities and changes lives

"A house is to a family what soil is to a plant. A plant needs to be rooted. A family is like that. If a family is not rooted, it will not flourish. But once a family is well-rooted, all kinds of wonderful things will begin to happen." 

Those are the words of Millar Fuller, who formed Habitat for Humanity with his wife. Decades later, their dedication to establishing those "roots" for so many families in need has truly changed the world for the better.

Here are 25 facts about Habitat for Humanity: 

1. Habitat for Humanity was founded on the guiding principle that every person should have a decent, safe, and affordable place to live.

2. To pursue that mission, Habitat for Humanity has built 500,000 homes since 1976, which are currently housing 2.5 million residents.

3. The organization was the brainchild of Millard and Linda Fuller in 1965 when they develop the concept of "partnership housing."

4. The Fullers visited the poor African country of Zaire to test out their model of community home building, and within three years there, they successfully built 120 homes for locals.

5. Encouraged by their success in Zaire, the Fullers started the Habitat for Humanity in the United States in 1976.

6. When a Clive Rainey, a schoolteacher, volunteered to help in 1977, he became Habitat’s first volunteer and started a rich tradition of partnership. Decades later, more than 2 million people have volunteered to work with Habitat building homes.

7. More than forty years later, Habitat operates in 1,400 local communities throughout the U.S., as well as 83 countries around the globe.

8. In the year 2000, Habitat dedicated it’s 100,000 home in New York City. By 2011, Habitat for Humanity was named the 6th largest homebuilder in the U.S., including all of the big, private, for-profit home builders.

9. Former President Jimmy Carter and his family have been long time advocates of the organization, personally volunteering so many times in different capacities that they've directly helped build, renovate and repair 3,944 Habitat homes in 14 countries.

10. Following suit, other Presidents and First Ladies have volunteered and supported Habitat for Humanity, including Gerald Ford; Bill, Hillary, and daughter Chelsea Clinton; George W. and Laura Bush; and Barack and Michelle Obama.

11. Why is Habitat for Humanity’s work so important?

In fact, 2 billion people (about 25% of earth’s total population) around the world live in slum housing. Of that number, about 100 million are homeless, including those left without shelter due to natural disasters, war, or civil unrest, as well as poverty.

12. Furthermore, 1 in 4 people worldwide live in conditions that present harm to their health, safety, prosperity, and opportunities.

13. That’s why Habitat builds about half of their houses in other countries. But while we might think that these all sound like Third World problems, consider that approximately 1/3 of the U.S. population faces housing problems of some kind.

14. These days in the U.S. a full-time minimum wage job isn't enough to pay the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment. In 30 states, even two people working full time at minimum wage can't cover the median rent on an apartment.

15. Following their mission statement to build “simple, decent homes,” their structures are functional but not elaborate. For instance, a  two-bedroom Habitat home is 882 sq. feet, three-bedroom home is 986 sq. feet and a 4-bedroom house is 1196 sq feet.  They’re also built with energy efficiency in mind, and come with a refrigerator, oven range, and hook-ups for a washer and dryer.

16. Habitat has a unique process to determine who receives a home and how prepared they are for home ownership. Recipients are selected based on three primary criteria – a process that includes a thorough screening and credit check.

17. Habitat looks for recipients that are low income and have a need for shelter because their current situation is unsafe, unaffordable, or otherwise untenable.

18. The recipient family also must be willing to perform 300-400 hours of sweat equity, partnering to help build their home or other families' future Habitat homes.

19. Future Habitat homeowners also take classes to learn how to manage a home or finances.

20. But they also have to have the ability to repay the mortgage, taxes, and utilities, since Habitat actually sells them the home – not gives it to them as charity.

21. In fact, Habitat sells them the home at a greatly reduced cost (versus building or buying any other home), so the new owners have it for life and can pass it down to their children.

22. Since the greatest cost associated with home building is the price of skilled labor, Habitat is able to offer homes for a fraction of the price because they rely on volunteers. Likewise, a good portion of materials used are donated, discounted, or salvaged, helping to keep the cost low.

23. Habitat grants them a zero-interest mortgage loan on the home, and the recipients need to pay property taxes, are responsible for maintenance and upkeep. Repayment of the mortgage goes not into someone else's pocket as profit but is reinvested into the Habitat fund to build another house for someone else.

24. A fun and emotional event for new homeowners and Habitat staff alike is when a recipient pays off their mortgage. When that happens, Habitat staff and volunteers come and celebrate with a mortgage-burning ceremony!

25. Habitat homes have been shown to increase self-confidence and self-esteem, increase family stability, produce more high school and even college graduates among children, and make a huge difference in breaking the cycle of poverty.


Would you like to get more information about volunteering for Habitat for Humanity? Contact me! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The 3% Rule: How to potentially make 3% more profit on the sale of your home (Part 2)

After decades in real estate and selling hundreds of homes, I truly believe that the average homeowner can do certain things to positively influence their sale. I call it the “3% Rule,” and it means that the average homeowner can potentially make up to about 3% more on their home sale. 

Of course, this isn’t an exact science. But even a 1% increase in a $300,000 home sale would equal an additional $3,000 in a home seller’s pocket. And 3% would equal a whopping $9,000! 

In part one of this blog, I covered my first seven points of my 3% Rule and today I'll delve into the remaining eight.

So how can you potentially make up to 3% more on the sale of your home?

8. Have professional photos taken
If an image is worth a thousand words, the images home shoppers first see of your home could possibly make you tens of thousands of dollars. For that reason, we suggest using a professional photographer for your listing photos, who will employ perfect lighting, and lenses with pinpoint clarity. With most buyers thumbing through hundreds of listings on the internet, the first impression those photos will make can result in more looks, interest, and ultimately, a better opportunity to sell your home for top dollar. 

9. Price your home right the first time
You may think that the easiest way to net more money on your home sale – or even 3% more – is to price your home higher. But overpricing your home compared to the competition will only ensure that you get fewer online views, fewer walk-throughs, fewer offers, and, probably, not sell it for that higher price at all.

Instead, think of selling your home as a balancing act between getting the highest possible price and also selling it as quickly and efficiently as possible. In fact, research shows that the longer a home is listed without selling, the less it will ultimately get. And you’ll probably have to pay your mortgage payment if it doesn’t sell quickly, or even two or three payments (or more!)

So we’ll sit down together and look at a comprehensive market analysis, revealing the hard data about what similar homes in the same area are selling for, as well as what other competition is on the market. 

10. Give the dog (or pet) a vacation away from home
Surveys show that if you really want to sell your home for top dollar, it's best to relocate pets off of the property during the listing and showing process. Not everyone is a dog/cat/or pet person, and some people have allergies or serious reservations about animals. Even if you put them in a side room, the fact that they are there and the buyer can't openly explore the home will leave them with a less than a positive feeling.  

11. Maximize light 
One of the easiest ways to make a house look larger, nicer, and more inviting is to brighten it up, especially with natural light. So remove those heavy, dreary shades and curtains for lighter translucent materials, change outdated or inadequate fixtures, and consider new bulbs with soft white light. Research shows that just by doing these things you'll get a 300% Return On Investment when selling – which is a super simple way to try and reach that goal of a +3% sale price.

12. Take an honest look at your competition
Before we ever put a sign in your front yard and list your home for sale, together, we’ll look closely at the other homes that are active, pending and sold in your neighborhood. Not only will this give us an idea of where to price your home accurately, but we'll also understand what other options buyers are seeing when they go house hunting.  

Ultimately, we’ll present you with a detailed market analysis with every home that is currently for sale within your greater geographic area and with similar dimensions and features (for instance, homes with 3 or more bedrooms in Folsom). Armed with this knowledge, we’ll be able to strategically price and position your listing against the competition.

13. Start a bidding war with an attractive price
One of the best ways to get the MOST net proceeds for your home is to price it extremely aggressively from the start. This may feel counterintuitive, but by pricing it favorably, you'll create a huge buzz of agents and buyers who rush to see your home as soon as it hits the market. They'll feel the sense of urgency and quickly submit full price and higher offers, and most often even engage in a bidding war that drives your price up.

14. Make it easy to show – and show well!
How easy will it be for other real estate agents to show their eager buyers your home? You’ll be doing yourself a great service if you make it easy and accessible to show for other agents (and their buyers!)

It’s also wise to prepare ahead of your listing by starting to pack, organize all of your possessions, and move furniture and boxes to a storage unit ahead of time. That way, the home will be less cluttered, look bigger, and buyers will be able to envision living there as they walk through.

15. Don’t ever hold back when it comes to disclosures
If you really want to see your home sale go smoothly – including netting the highest possible profit - make sure to honestly and accurately fill out your disclosures. Not being forthright about any material defects, problems, and issues with the property – or even the neighborhood – will throw a monkey wrench in the transaction, jeopardizing the sale, costing you more money, and possibly even landing you in court. 

The good news is that we can usually solve many of these concerns before the home is even listed by ordering the appropriate reports and making necessary repairs, which will give the buyer a green light to offer a great price.

How else can you sell your home for more? Use the Alfano Group Real Estate Agency!

Too often, homeowners choose a Realtor just because they know the person socially or they bump into them at an open house, but smart sellers enlist the help of the best real estate professional possible.

The Alfano Real Estate Group would love the chance to compete for your business and earn your trust. When you’re ready to sell your home, so feel free to contact us any time with questions. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Answering your questions about Home Owners Associations (HOAs)

What is an HOA? 
An HOA, or homeowners association, is a community organization that dictates and enforces certain rules to maintain the standards, quality, and values for all residents who live there.

What they do in exchange for dues?
HOAs assume responsibility for maintaining common areas within the complex or community, like parks, swimming pools, gyms, function halls, clubhouses, sidewalks, tennis courts, elevators, and other areas that every homeowner benefits from. 

HOAs also commonly provide security, landscaping services, sometimes waste management, water, sewer, and other maintenance on roofs and building exteriors.

Additionally, HOAs endeavor to maintain (or improve) the quality of the area, ensuring that property values don't decline. They do this by instituting their own set of rules, sometimes called CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) that including noise ordinances, speed limit restrictions, and other public nuisances. 

How much are HOA fees?
HOA fees are usually paid monthly, and separate from your mortgage payment. They can vary widely depending on the type of property, the neighborhood, and the quality and scope of the amenities provided, but typical HOA fees may run from $200 up to $500 or higher. Some HOA communities even charge on a sliding scale based on your property’s square footage.

Typical HOA rules cover:
  • What color your front door has to be
  • If you can hang laundry lines and laundry outside
  • Barbecues, patio furniture, outdoor furniture
  • Outdoor storage
  • Whether you’ll allowed to have a satellite dish or not
  • If pets are permitted, and if so, what type and the size
  • Parking rules for owners and visitors
  • What color you can paint your house/unit
  • Exterior landscaping requirements and regulations
  • Including watering schedules
  • Garbage and recycle management
  • Type and height of fences, and
  • Restrictions on window coverings.
The downside of HOAs
We now understand the potential benefits of living in an HOA community, including regulations aimed at protecting property values as well as the quality of life for residents. But there can be a downside to HOAs, as well, aside from just the cost.

Homeowners that aren't used to living in an HOA community often are shocked at the scope and pettiness of rules when they first move in. It seems like every little behavior – like where a guest can park, if you can decorate your own property for Christmas, and what size your dog is, is heavily regulated, turning homeownership into life under a police state!

Rules can also be inconsistently enforced, so you don’t want to run afoul of the HOA board or management company and get on their bad list!

Additionally, the HOAs may fall short of the money needed to properly maintain the community, and needed repairs often go undone. That can happen not only with mismanagement, but when unanticipated repairs and maintenance come up, or when enough units are vacant that the remaining homeowners need to pick up the financial slack. 

For instance, during the real estate bust and Great Recession of the mid-2000s, most HOAs faced an unprecedented crisis and teetered on bankruptcy when vacancy rates (due to foreclosures) and scofflaws doubled and tripled virtually overnight. According to the Community Associations Institute, about 45% of HOAs faced "serious" problems as a result of the economic downturn, with 9% describing their situation as "severe.”

HOA fees can go up at any time, with owners faced with no choice but to keep paying them or sell.

There are three types of HOAs:

1. Voluntary
These communities have an HOA in place, but you can choose not to join or participate when you buy your home there. They may collect dues, voluntarily, but they aren’t legally entitled to enforce rules.

2. Mandatory
In most HOA communities, when you buy a home or property there, you have no choice but to pay dues and adhere to that HOA’s rules.

3. Condominium
Built-in organization of governance when you buy a condominium. HOAs are mandatory in condos and play an additionally important role since owners aren't responsible for anything outside of their own unit. 

Some statistics about HOAs:
In the United States, there are now more than 63 million people living in properties that have a homeowners association – which makes up about 24% of all U.S. households!

There are about 310,000 HOA-governed communities in the U.S., comprising condominiums, townhouses, in gated communities, detached homes, or any other kinds of Planned Unit Developments.

Each year, more than 8,000 new community associations or HOAs are formed.

While you may sometimes hear complaints (and even horror stories) about homeowner disputes with their HOA, data paints another picture about that relationship. 

In fact, 70% of owners “rate their community association experience as positive,” and 22% say it’s “neutral.” That means only 8% of homeowners have a negative experience with their HOA.

Moreover, about 76% of people surveyed say that their “association rules and regulations protect and enhance property values.” 

About two/thirds of HOAs are run by professional property managers, while the remaining 1/3 are run by elected boards and volunteers comprising of homeowners in the community.

The 5 states with the highest number of homeowners associations include Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, and North Carolina.

Some tips for buying in an HOA community
For the vast majority of homeowners, HOAs are beneficial and welcomed. But it’s  a good idea to investigate their dealings during the buying process, so you'll know what you're committing to. 

Here are some tips for checking out your future HOA:

  • Find out (get everything in writing!) what the monthly dues cover. 
  • Ask how HOA fee increases are determined, and how often.
  • Look at how many times raises have been instituted throughout the HOAs history.
  • In fact, they should provide you a printed record fo HOA dues for the last 10 years (or as applicable).
  • How large is the HOA reserve fund?
  • Ask for a record of special assessments that have been made in the past.
  • Are any special assessments are planned for the near future?
  • Has the HOA had any lawsuits or any ongoing?
  • Obtain a copy of the minutes from the last few HOA meetings, and sit in on a meeting before you buy.
  • Does the HOA have catastrophe insurance in case of an earthquake, flood, fire, etc.?
  • You may even want to knock on a few doors and ask your future neighbors what they think about the HOA, as well as the neighborhood!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

It’s all about the zip codes! Which Sacramento zip codes are the hottest, the priciest, the hidden steals for homebuyers, or even on the decline?

I’m sure you’ve picked up the morning newspaper, turned on the news, or checked social media and saw reports citing real estate statistics. These days, they’re usually about escalating prices and dwindling inventory, of course, but they also rarely tell the true story. 

In fact, real estate is all about micro-markets, and what’s happening across town, in the Bay Area, or in Sheboygan, Wisconsin have very little to do with your home value at the moment.

So in this blog, we’ll break down key market statistics based on zip codes, which often correlates to actual neighborhoods (although there is some spillover) or even more narrowly defined areas. When it comes to real estate – including important decisions to buy or sell – you can never have too much good, specific information, and this will help.

So which zip codes are hot, which may be starting to level off in value, and postal code presents hidden deals for homebuyers?

In order to keep this blog short and sweet, we only presented some of the Sacramento area’s many zip codes, so if you have questions about one you don’t see listed, feel free to contact us!

Sacramento Single Family Home Sales - May 2017:

95608 Carmichael
Current Median Sales Price: $ $385,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $369,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $223 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 120 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $476,750 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95610 Citrus Heights
Current Median Sales Price: $ $330,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $327, 500 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $216 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 39 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $369,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95621 Citrus Heights
Current Median Sales Price: $ $299,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $293,838 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $224 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 34 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $327,475 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95624 Elk Grove
Current Median Sales Price: $ $400,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $395,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $207 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 69 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $475,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95628 Fair Oaks
Current Median Sales Price: $ $472,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $425,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $227 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 112 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $515,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95670 Rancho Cordova Gold River
Current Median Sales Price: $ $324,750 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $320,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $217 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 58 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $364,179 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95757 Elk Grove
Current Median Sales Price: $ $446,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $445,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $194 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 40 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $449,975 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95758 Elk Grove
Current Median Sales Price: $ $363,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $360,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $209 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 51 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $359,950 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95811 Sacramento Midtown
Current Median Sales Price: $ $0 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $362,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $0 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 6 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $638,162 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95816 Sacramento Midtown
Current Median Sales Price: $ $535,435 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $540,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $395 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 28 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $369,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
95817 East Sacramento
Current Median Sales Price: $ $375,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $319,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $330 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 25 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $369,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95818 Sacramento Land Park Curtis Park
Current Median Sales Price: $ $560,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $535,105 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $402 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 32 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $528,950 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95819 East Sacramento
Current Median Sales Price: $ $557,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $553,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $415 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 25 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $569,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95822 South Land Park Greenhaven
Current Median Sales Price: $ $263,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $250,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $227 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 47 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $309,900 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95829 Sacramento Florin
Current Median Sales Price: $ $363,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $347,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $218 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 33 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $598,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95831 Sacto S Land Park Greenhaven
Current Median Sales Price: $ $412,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $425,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $236 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 38 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $452,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95864 Sacto Arden Arcade Creek
Current Median Sales Price: $ $430,250 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $384,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $271 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 75 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $778,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95816 West Sacramento
Current Median Sales Price: $ $410,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $375,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $212 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 55 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $429,800 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)