Monday, February 27, 2006

So Says Ben

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified to congress this past week that housing prices will stay steady or dip slightly, but won't drop precipitously. Bernanke also warned that rates would climb to control inflation. So....expect a rate hike at the next Federal Funds meeting on March 28th.

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Saturday, February 25, 2006

All Down Hill To The Beach-Staying True to Cool

Reading a magazine recently gave me a clearer picture of just why I am so proud and happy to be living in Ventura. In the magazine article, Ventura was described as an undeniable 1960's flashback with tiny bungalows, taco stands, and surfboards. Relishing in the fact that Ventura has a classic mix of terrain with mountains & beach in the same local, the writer characterized Ventura as "Staying True to Cool". What was meant by this is that we have not succumbed to Los Angeles sprawl, but have kept our small town flavor in tact. Snobbery remains rare here and there is no typical Ventura type person. It is this small town flavor that I personally love, as well as the undeniable coastal location. There are 258 sunny days a year and 43 miles of beachfront in Ventura County. It is truly a unique paradise.

Considering Ventura's unique and loveable nature, it is a pretty sure bet that real estate here will always be in demand. So, if a beach style life has always been your dream, now might be the time to buy a home here. Acquiring a home near the beach will not get easier over the years as there are only so many homes available. This surf town holds on to its property as well as its original California spirit. If you don't live here, come visit us! You will love Ventura and want to stay forever.

Search the MLS at:
(805) 218-7016

Friday, February 24, 2006

Negotiating in Real Estate

Here's a thought if your thinking about making an offer on a home anytime in the near future: Don't offer what you think the seller will take unless you'd be very unhappy to lose the property to another buyer. Make the seller say no at least twice, it's too easy for them to say no the first time!

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Chances are, if you've ever sold a home, you've heard the term Caravan. What is it? If your home is listed in the local MLS, your listing broker is cooperating with other brokers that belong to that MLS by offering them a commission if they bring a buyer for your home. Caravan, or Broker Tours, are open houses for brokers and agents to view new listings. This is a benefit for sellers because seeing a home on a computer screen isn't usually what sells a home. Agents get to see first hand what a home offers, which makes them better able to describe it to a potential buyer. It might even lead to a quicker or sale. I've even heard of agents who see a home on caravan and end up buying it!

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reminder on 1031 Tax Exchanges

Effective for purchases after October 22, 2004, when a rental residence was acquired in a tax-deferred Internal Revenue Code 1031 exchange, the property must be owned at least five years, and owner occupied at least two years, to qualify for the Internal Revenue Code 121 principal residence sale exemption up to $250,000 (up to $500,000 for a qualified married couple). For more information, please consult your tax advisor.

Search the MLS at:

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Home Repairs

The Kansas City Star recently reported:
Half of the resale homes on the market today have at least one significant defect, says the National Association of Home Inspectors. The trade association surveyed its members and identified these four most common major problems found in older homes on the market:

  • Improper grading and drainage around the house, leading to actual or potential water penetration and foundation problems.
  • Insufficient electrical service to the house, inadequate overload protection and amateur, often dangerous, wiring connections.
  • Roof damage, including worn and improper roof flashing.
  • Faulty heating and air conditioning systems, including controls with mechanical problems.

The days of slamming your home on the market, problems and all, are over. These types of defects should be corrected prior to marketing your home. Otherwise, a buyer may discount your home more than you'd likely spend on the repairs.

Search the MLS at:

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Forclosure Activity Rising

According to the California Association of Realtors, the number of mortgage default notices sent to California homeowners increased during the fourth quarter of 2005, rising 19 percent from third quarter. Lending institutions sent default notices to nearly 15,000 homeowners between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, up 15.6 percent when compared with the 12,978 default notices sent during the same period one year earlier. Declining home appreciation rates impacted the rise in default activity during the fourth quarter, according to the report.

Search the MLS at:

Friday, February 17, 2006

What a Difference a Year Makes

On March 14, 2005 I posted the following to this blog, "Inventories of single family homes continue to drop as we head in to the home buying season. The weather is getting nice and more folks are getting out to find a new home. As of this morning, there are 47 single family homes available in Ventura under $700k and only 30 homes available in Camarillo for under $700k. Since it is Monday morning, many sales that happened over the weekend may not be reflected in those numbers.
If you are a buyer, be prepared to act fast!"

I just checked the MLS and for the same criteria, Ventura has 123 single family homes available, and Camarillo has 86. That's nearly triple the inventory level of last year. What a difference a year makes!

Search the MLS at:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Economic Focus - Hot to cool

A newsletter from Chicago Title and Escrow Company states "The signs are clear".
  • Climbing inventories and longer market time are back again.
  • Rising interest rates, tightening credit underwriting and more traditional loan packaging are lowering the ranks of qualified homebuyers.
  • Buyers are noticing the increasing inventories, taking more time to purchase, being more selective in their choices and more conservative with their price offers.
  • Creative seller financing is back again as evidenced by seller incentives offered to potential buyers.

This does not mean the sky is falling on the housing industry. It more likely means that the housing market is returning to more normal conditions. Greater selections and lower pricing are good news for qualified buyers.

Lorraine Email:

(805) 901-8805

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Inventories Still Increasing

The number of condos on the market has been steadily increasing since last summer. At the height of the market last year, it was typical to see 30 - 35 condos available in Ventura at any one time. About 10 days ago, there was 3 times that amount at 103. This morning I checked, and there's still more, 116. What does this mean?

If you are a seller, you need to take the advice of your Realtor and get your home in tip top shape. Furthermore, you'll need to carefully review the comparatives, trends in the market, and statistics to price your home aggressively. You need to stand out from the crowd.

If you are a buyer, you have a little homework too. You'll need to review those same comparatives, trends, and statistics to make sure you are paying a fair price for your new home. That said, this might be a great time to buy with plenty of choices and the time to check them all out before making your decision.

No matter whether you're a buyer or seller, understanding the current market is key!

Search the MLS at:

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentines Day!

Home is where the heart is.........
Our homes are so much more than an investment. They are where we raise our families, relax at the end of the day, and grow old together. Take some time to enjoy your home and your loved ones.
Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, February 10, 2006


I was watching the news last night and they had a story on the new website Zillow. I don't know about you, but the hype, "Jack Wright says world ends tomorrow. Tune in at 11pm!" is getting a bit old. Anyway, the hype last night was that Zillow was going to change the way we buy and sell real estate. Well, I fell for it, again. I watched, and I'm pretty sure they admitted at the end of the story that it probably won't change the way we buy and sell. I was too tired last night to sign on and check it out, but I did this morning. I provided my address and it provided me with an instant estimate of value. Woooohoooo! My house is worth quite a bit more than I thought. Then, I was able to add in upgrades, choose the specific comparatives I wanted to use, and even add in a value for whatever I wanted. Then I really got excited. According to Zillow, my house has increased by $350,000 in the last 6 months. Cool!

I don't want to make it sound like this is a terrible site. I like some of the features, and I think the more information that's available to buyers and sellers, the better informed they are. Just keep in mind that specific knowlege about an area, such as schools and views, is not part of the computers knowledge and can make a huge difference in the actual price you can buy or sell for. Real knowledge of a specific market can only be found in an experienced agent.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Some interesting stats from CAR Newsletter

Here are the latest statistics from the California Association of Realtors Newsletter:

Calif. median home price - Dec. 05: $548,430 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. affordability index - Nov. 05: 14 percent (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. highest median home price by C.A.R. region Dec. 05: SANTA BARBARA So. Coast $1,300,000 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. lowest median home price by C.A.R. region Dec. 05: High Desert $320,490 (Source: C.A.R.)

Mortgage rates - week ending 2/2:30-yr.
fixed: 6.23%; Fees/points: 0.5%
15-yr. fixed: 5.81%; Fees/points: 0.5%
1-yr. adjustable: 5.33%; Fees/points: 0.7%(Source: Freddie Mac)

Lorraine Burns, Realtor
(805) 901-8805

My Sister's Husband's Cousin's Friend Has a License!

About one in every 75 residents in California has a real estate license, according to the California Department of Real Estate. As of November, the total was 471,818 licensed agents - historically, the average is roughly 300,000. That tally is believed to have approached 500,000 already this year!

So, the moral of this story is to ask lot's of questions. Buying and selling your home is one of the most important investment decisions you will make. Make sure the real estate agent you choose to help you with this transaction is a full time agent with experience and knoweldge! This isn't a time to be doing a favor for your uncle's cousin's ex-wife!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pending Home Sales Index

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) fell for the 4th straight month. The PHSI gauges home sales activity for upcoming months, as sales typically close within one or two months of contract signing.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Top Mistakes in 2005 of Home Buyers per Broker Agent News

1. Buyers bought properties to flip at top-of-the-market prices.
2. Buyers utilized interest-only mortgages.
3. Buyers overlooked resale characteristics.
4. Buyers skipped doing the home inspection.
5. Buyers misinterpreted developers give-away's.
6. Buyers didn't read homeowners association documents.
7. Buyers neglected to request rates of state, county or local transfer taxes paid by buyers at closing.

If you are going to be a buyer in 2006, put these to good use in your transactions.

(805) 901-8805

Friday, February 03, 2006

Is It Good Time to Move?

Here's more on whether or not it's a good time to move right now. We hear that it's a good time alot from real estate agents, but is it really? Well, let's see. Let's say you own a home or condo worth about $500,000. On average, prices have slipped over the last 6 months or so by about 5%. That means that you could sell your home for about $475,000. Now, here's the reason you may not want to wait till your home regains that loss: The neighborhood that you'd like to buy in was worth about $800,000, but now it's selling for $760,000. So, instead of it costing you an additional $300,000 to make the move, it will only cost you an additional $285,000. Rates are still at historical lows and the inventory levels are sufficient to give you a few more choices than you may have had last year.

Now, this scenario isn't for everyone. The biggest reason it's a good time to move is because you have a need. Whether that need is lifestyle, needing a bigger home, or something else.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Trading Up or Trading Down? Do it Now!

Now is a great time to consider selling that condo or smaller home and moving up. Don't wait until interest rates rise. There are many homes on the market right now and it is really a good time to be able to really look for that home you've always wanted. Unlike this past summer when you had to make an offer in the first few days, things have slowed enough that you can actually take the time to shop a bit. However, there are still buyers out there, so if you do see that special place you have been waiting for...hop on it! If you are planning on staying in the area for awhile, it is definitely still a wise move. Also, if you are 55 years and older you may want to consider the opposite move right now. You can buy a property for equal or lesser value than your current home's value and keep your old property tax base. This is a great tax relief measure for people who want to downsize as they grow older. Call me if you have questions or I can be of help!

Janis Calkins, Agent
California Oaks Real Estate
805 218-7016

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fed Raises Rates

The Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by a quarter point to 4.5 percent this week. This is the 14th straight increase since June 2004.