Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Best Buy!

Cute home in the country with hardwood floors, fireplace, and a huge oversized garage. The home sits on a 5100 square foot, fenced lot. Unbelievable price of $419,000

Get more infomation and pictures of this home and other Ventura County Real Estate at:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The "Bubble" Won't be Popping - It's Just an Adjustment

No worries. Ventura won't be experiencing a crash anytime soon. At least that's the opinion of economic experts that have the credentials to back it up!

Mark Schniepp, director of the California Forecast at UC Santa Barbara presented his opinions at the 2006 Ventura County Real Estate and Economic Outlook Conference on 9/7/2006 at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza. He was joined by G.U. Krueger, Senior VP with IHP Capital Partners' Market Research Department, and Tapan Munroe, Consulting Chief Economist for Capital Corp of the West.

Schniepp acknowledged a slow down in the housing market in California, and Ventura County. He added, however, that very few markets have experienced price declines and most of California is still seeing rising values.

Schniepp added that most sellers are able, but not willing, to sell their homes for less than they perceive their home to be worth. Until they are distressed, he said, housing values will not adjust to what buyers are willing to pay. He said sellers are not likely to become distressed anytime soon because there is no major slow down in the economy and people still have job's and they are able to make their mortgage payments.

"Buyers still possess the desire and financial ability to purchase real estate - they're only waiting for the right opportunities to present themselves. Those opportunities appear to be lower prices. Hence, the current stalemate," Schniepp said.

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Looking for a Buyers Agent?


There are some great deals to be had right now, not to mention really low interest rates. Have you been on the sidelines waiting for just the right time? Throw your hat in, there's no obligation. Find out if it's the right time!

(805) 901-8805

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Today's Front Page Story

Here's some quotes from today's front page story. If you missed it, check it out at online at the Ventura County Star.

  • "We don't anticipate any significant declines in price and feel buyers will come back"
  • "Buyers holding out for significant price reductions, he said, will be disappointed. "
  • "the current market is very different from the early 1990s when there was a real estate free-fall, because employment in Southern California is strong and home prices are stable"
  • "the sales drop-off as a sound transition from a frenzied housing market to one that's more normal"
  • "prices continued to climb in August — Ventura County's median price for all types of homes was $598,000, up 1 percent from the previous year"
  • "predicts that the market will remain soft until at least the first quarter of 2007"

What do you think?

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ventura Real Estate...Location, Location, Location!

The old saying, find the worst house in the best neighborhood still applies. Most realtors will agree, location can't be substituted. In a premium neighborhood, with excellent schools, chances are you have less risk of loss and more opportunity for gain. In today's market, that can't be ignored! Not to mention, it makes an awesome place to call home.

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Best Buy!

Lowest Priced 3 Bedroom Townhome in Ventura!
In fact, it's lower than many of the 2 bedroom townhomes. We haven't seen a price like this since 2004! The owners aren't fooling around on this - they want an offer NOW!

Get more information on this townhome and search the MLS for more Ventura County Real Estate at:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rates Hold Steady

Yesterdays Fed Funds Meeting left rates unchanged for the second time in the last couple of months. Good news for the housing market as 30 year fixed rates have dipped below 6% in recent weeks.

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Here is some information I believe we help us understand the Pension Protection Act of 2006:

Monday, September 18, 2006

Brought to you by the Senior Advantage Real Estate Council®
SPECIAL SUMMARY OF THE PENSION PROTECTION ACT OF 2006The Pension Protection Act of 2006, signed by President Bush on August 17, 2006, made some significant overhauls to laws that govern pension plans. The bulk of the Act concerns defined benefit pension plans.

But the Act has a number of tax and retirement planning provisions that are of particular interest to Baby Boomers and Seniors. The law has made a number of retirement savings provisions permanent that had been set to expire, made payout and rollovers of retirement monies more liberal, and toughened some laws pertaining to charitable contributions.

Of course, for detailed explanations and how the new law applies to you and your clients, it's best to consult a qualified tax specialist.

Here are highlights, by no means exhaustive, of some key provisions of the Act.
Retirement Savings
- IRA and Roth IRA contribution limits gradually increase from $2,000 to $5,000 by 2008. After 2008, limits will be adjusted for cost-of-living increases.
- Catch-up contributions for those aged 50 or older will be $1,000 for IRAs, $2,500 for SIMPLE-IRAs, and $5,000 for 401k plans. IRA catch-up contribution limits won't be adjusted for inflation, but SIMPLE and 401k catch-up contributions will be adjusted in $500 increments based on inflation.
- Roth 401k and Roth 403b plans were made permanent. Previous tax laws were such that Roth plans wouldn't be allowed after 2010.
- Non-spouse beneficiaries can now roll over assets inherited from a qualified retirement plan into an IRA. Such beneficiaries avoid paying taxes on the rollover, and will be taxed only when the assets are withdrawn. Before, only those who inherited retirement assets from a deceased spouse got such beneficial tax treatment.
- Rollovers to a Roth IRA have been simplified. Taxpayers will be allowed to make direct rollovers from a qualified retirement plan, tax-sheltered annuity or a government plan directly into a Roth IRA as long as the person's meets conversion qualification, such as having an income below $100,000.
- At tax time, taxpayers can direct the IRS to deposit all or a portion of tax refunds directly into an IRA. The provision, effective January 1, 2007, will apply to the 2006 tax year refunds.
- Military personnel called to active duty can take a penalty-free withdrawal from their 401k or IRA plans if they're called to active duty between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2007. They'll be able to redeposit the withdrawals--without paying income tax on those withdrawals--up to two years after their active duty ends.
- The Savers Credit was made permanent, which rewards lower-income workers who put money into a retirement account. The plan was set to expire at the end of 2007. Such workers can keep claiming the credit, which could reduce their tax bill. Next year, income levels used to decide eligibility and credit amounts will be indexed for inflation.
- Employers can now automatically enroll employees into a 401(k) plan and employees will have to opt out if they don't want to participate.

Charitable Contributions
- Those 70 1/2 or older can send money--up to $100,000 annually--from their IRAs directly to a charitable group through Dec. 31, 2007. Those with traditional IRAs benefit because typically such monies are eventually taxable. Donating these dollars keeps them out of the taxable income category.
- Those who don't itemize their tax returns can't deduct charitable contributions.
- To deduct charitable gifts, taxpayers must prove the donation with receipts, canceled checks or a letter from the charity confirming the gift.
- Donations, such as clothes and other items, must be in good condition to receive a deduction, though there's no clear definition of "good" in the law.

College Savings
- The federal tax exemption for Section 529 plans was set to expire at the end of 2010. But the college savings plans, which allow taxpayers to withdraw 529 Plan funds tax-free to pay college costs, were left in place.



Saturday, September 16, 2006

Understanding Mello-Roos Tax

A Mello-Roos District is an area where a special tax is imposed on property owners residing within a Community Facilities District. The district has chosen to seek public financing through the sale of bonds for the purpose of financing certain public improvements and services. These services may include streets, water, sewage and drainage,electricity,infrastructure, schools,parks and police protection to newly developing areas. The tax you pay is used to make the payments of principal and interest on the bonds.
By purchasing an interest in a subdivision within a Community Facilities District you can expect to be assessed for a Mello-Roos tax which will typically be collected with your general property tax bill.
When buying or selling a home in a newer subdivision, be sure and investigate whether or not there will be a Mello-Roos tax! It might impact your decision as to which home to purchase and where.

Janis Calkins
(805) 218-7016

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Best Buy!

Check out this cute Ventura Midtown home on a corner lot with loads of charm. It's recently been painted inside and out, and has new carpet throughout. There's still plenty of opportunity for upgrades and sweat equity. Call today for an appointment to see this midtown cutie!

More information and search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What the Heck is Caravan?

You've probably heard the term caravan used in the context of real estate. Maybe you've heard it called Broker's Tour. Either way, it's that one day a week that all the agents in the office pile in a car, or two, to get out and see all the new listings in the MLS (watch out for them, they're easy to spot, but they won't see you because they're looking at your neighbor's curb appeal). It's a great tool for seller's to get their home sold. It's held in Oxnard on Wednesday mornings, and in Camarillo and Ventura on Thursday mornings. If you've recently listed your home with a Realtor, make sure they hold it open for caravan. It's a great way to spread the word about your home!

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Deposits Held in Escrow

There are always questions about the deposit money when we sit down to write an offer. The deposit is collected from the buyer when an offer is accepted. It is deposited in escrow and held until the close of escrow. It will go towards the buyers closing costs and down payment, or, it may be refunded to the buyer if not needed for down payment or closing costs.

In the case of an escrow cancelling, the deposit is disbursed according to the progression of the contract. If the buyer has not released all contingencies, the deposit would ordinarily go back to the buyer. If all contingencies have been released by the buyer, the seller may have claim to the deposit based on the buyer defaulting on their contractual obligations. In either case, both buyer and seller are required to sign the cancellation prior to all deposits being disbursed.
So, back to the large sums I've seen in recent contracts. The typical amount we've been seeing here in Ventura County is about 1% of the purchase price. In going lower than this, it may express a lack of committment to the contract. The larger than 1% deposits may show the seller that the buyer is committed to completing the escrow, and that the buyer has the financial strength to make such a large deposit.

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Event at the Ventura Pier

Do you like gourmet food, wine, ocean breezes, and beautiful settings? The annual Pier Under the Stars event is scheduled for October 7 from 5pm - 8pm. The cost is $40 per person and they sell out fast! Get tickets at

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Monday, September 11, 2006

Never Forget

I'm still overcome with emotion, even tears when I see those awful images that we all woke up to 5 years ago. I remember how confused I felt by trying to comprehend how completely evil the perpetrators could be. Even more, I was moved by how courageous and selfless so many people were that day - the firemen, police officers, and even the passengers on all four of those planes. I won't soon forget how the American people came together that day and for months afterwards. We were proud to be Americans. We displayed our flag outside our homes, even on our cars as we drove around town. United We Stand. Please remember.

Get American Flag clip art Free here

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Did You Know?

I attended the Ventura County Real Estate and Economic Outlook on September 7, 2006 and learned some interesting facts. Did you know.........

  • The US has never had a year over year nominal home price decline.
  • California has only seen one decline in median home prices from 1990 - 1995.
  • This one and only decline was caused in huge part by significant job loss in the aerospace industry.
  • Ventura has the highest average salaries in Southern California.

Visit the website at

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Open House Sunday 2-4

Please come by to check out this 2100 square foot home built in 2002. Awesome neighborhood. You won't be disappointed. Seller is in a "must sell" situation. $714,900

More information and pictures including a Ventura County Real Estate MLS search feature at:

Friday, September 08, 2006

High School Football

Bueana High School 14
Simi Valley 13


Friday Best Buy

This is a recently listed condo on the hillside with nice views. It has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, a fireplace, and hardwood floors. $389,900

Search the MLS for Ventura County Real Estate at:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ventura's Version of Day on the Green

Enjoy a day at Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura, listen to some music, and support the Ventura Hillside Conservancy's efforts to preserve our hillsides, canyons, and open space.

Saturday, September 30th, 1 PM
Arroyo Verde Park, Ventura

Appearing this year:
Search the MLS for Ventura Hillside Property at:

Get Your Free Credit Report

We've all heard that we can get a free credit report once a year - but where? Many are directed to sites that offer teasers, but you have to sign up for costly credit monitoring to get your free report. We'll, here's the scoop: go to
This is a true, free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies. You can only get it once per year, but it's a good idea to review your credit once a year and make sure all is as expected.

Search the Ventura County MLS at:

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Signs of Housing Market Stability from Chicago Escrow and Title

Dear Bloggers:
This is a direct quote from Economic Focus, an E-newsletter from Chicago Escrow and Title:

Volume 10, Issue 32
For the week of September 04, 2006


There is considerable hope in the housing industry, supported by considerable evidence that we are nearing the end of interest rate hikes by the Fed and that the housing market slide may be reaching to its bottom.
The latter may not be immediate but several trends could be indicating renewed confidence in real estate.
1. The first of these unorthodox indicators comes from the stock market - Undervalued industry stock.
James B. Stewart with Wall Street Journal Online says it this way. "Stocks of home builders like Toll Brothers and Pulte Homes have suffered severe declines; expectations are so low that they seem good values for patient, risk-tolerant investors willing to wait for the market to stabilize. Some mortgage real-estate investment trusts, hard-hit by rising interest rates and fears of an overvalued market, have just begun to tick up. REITs like Annual Capital Management and Newcastle Investment are both about 20% above their lows for the year."
2. The second comes from the market itself - Renting vs. homeownership is leaning toward a balance.
When the cost of home ownership raises so do rents. Eventually, the two will balance out and the cost of homes will become attractive and affordable to renters.
3. The third comes from the real estate investment community - Real estate investments pencil.
As an investment, real estate will again begin to pencil out attractive returns.
Mr. Stewart says, "Property itself may also begin to be attractive, either as an investment vehicle or your own use. In some markets, falling prices for condos compared with rents are beginning to make them attractive to yield-oriented investors. It is a paradox of falling real-estate values that buyers balk at paying far less than they would have in a rising market, simply because they're afraid the value may decline further after they buy. All of a sudden they’re market timers, aiming for an elusive bottom."
"As usual, and especially for first-time buyers, I don't believe in trying to time the real-estate market. If you like something, it fits your budget, and you plan to be there for an extended period, stop worrying about where prices are headed. Instead, be grateful you weren't buying a year ago."
While these are not indicators of where the market is they could foretell where the market is trending and thus give us advanced notification. Keep an eye on these trends.
Jill Speitel
Direct: 805-656-1300
Cell: 805-207-4303
5675 Ralston Street
Ventura, CA 93003
Direct: 805.656.1300
Fax: 805.644.7623

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Best Buy!

This is a recently listed condo in the hills above Ventura. It's got hardwood floors, a fireplace, and some pretty cool views! Best part, it's priced at $389,000

Check it out at: