Patti Phillips
Prudential California Realty
6119 La Granada
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Direct toll free: 800-680-9133
Cell: 619-507-2100 Office: 858-481-2020

Friday, March 6, 2009

Calling All First Time Home Buyers! Now is the Time to Buy!

Calling All First-Time Home Buyers! Now is the Time to Buy!

Everyone in the country is wondering how Obama's tax stimulus bill afftects them. One of the ways to stimulate the economy is to get first time homebuyers "off the fence." Every time a new home is purchased, numerous vendors end up with business. The new homeowner needs furniture. They often want to decorate and make the home "theirs"- hence new paint, new curtains, new flooring, plants for outside- you name it.

The first time homebuyer credit will help with that!

The number of first time buyers has increased each year since 2006, rising from 36% to 41% last year according to the National Association of Realtors. As home prices have fallen significantly since "the peak" and interest rates are near all time lows, for many, there has never been a better time to purchase a home.

However, with the current economy, many prospective buyers may be reluctant to pull the trigger. Home prices though, on a national level, are down 20% to 30% depending on the resource offering the information. Locally, greater opportunities may exist.

Personally, I have a buyer currently in escrow on a home for $310,000. Three and four years ago we were looking at homes which were priced at $450-475,000. Not a one of them was a place you would want to put your dog in! He gave up. The home he is currently buying is a BEAUTY! 4 bedroom, 2,400 square feet, lovely ammenities, nice neighborhood, beautiful finished backyard...... This home would have sold well into the $600's then. He is thrilled! He never imagined that his first purchase would look like this!

The collapse of the housing market has made it possible for Pavel to own a gorgeous home! Now, on top of this- he will have an $8,000 tax credit when he files his 2009 taxes!

For qualifying first-time home buyers, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 amends the $7,500 tax credit. The credit has now been changed in two significant ways. The first is that the potential amount of the credit has been increased to $8,000.

The second change, which is very beneficial, is that where previously the credit had to be repaid to the IRS over a period of up to 15 years, it now does not as long as the homeowners live in the property for at least 3 years. A tax credit is a direct reduction to an income tax liability. It also allows for any amount that exceeds that liability to be paid directly to you. Example, someone has a tax liability of $4,000. They would then receive a refund of $4,000 if the credit they were eligible for was $8,000.

To read more about how the tax credit could impact you or someone you know, the National Association of Home Builders has constructed a website that goes into all the details of the credit which can be seen at

Meanwhile- if you- or someone you know has been talking about buying, and hasn't- have them give me a call. We can see what they qualify for and help them to achieve the American Dream of home ownership!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cell Phone Numbers Go Public Soon! Stop Telemarketers!

Remember: Cell Phone Numbers Are Going Public

All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls.

To prevent this, call the following number from you cell phone:

It is the National “DO NOT CALL” list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the number you wish to have blocked.
Pass this along to others. It also works from your home phone if you have not registered it yet.

Believe me- this is worth your time to do!

Obama's Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan

Obama Unveils Homeowner Affordability
and Stability Plan
Revised February 20, 2009

President Obama unveiled his plan to help stabilize the housing market and keep millions of borrowers in their homes.

The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan includes two initiatives to help struggling homeowners. One is a refinancing program for homeowners with less than 20% equity in their homes, or who owe more than their home is worth. The second program attempts to lower monthly payments for homeowners at risk of losing their home. In addition, the plan includes a third initiative to support low mortgage rates by strengthening confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Many of the plan’s details are still being worked out and will not be announced until March 4, here is an overview of the plan’s main components.

Refinancing Initiative
Under current rules, those families who own less than 20% equity in their homes have a difficult time refinancing and taking advantage of the historically low interest rates. Therefore, the refinancing initiative in the new plan provides refinancing help for homeowners with less than 20% equity in their homes or who owe more than their home is worth. This initiative is open to homeowners who have conforming loans which are guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who owe up to 5% more than their home is worth.

According to the plan, “credit-worthy” or “responsible” homeowners can refinance their mortgage into a 30- or 15-year, fixed-rate loan based on current market rates. The refinanced loan, however, cannot include prepayment penalties or balloon payments. For many families, this low-cost refinancing may help reduce their mortgage payments by up to thousands of dollars per year.

As with the rest of the plan, details about this initiative will be released at a future date—including what, if any, credit score requirements will be included.

Stability Initiative
This initiative aims at providing help to individual families as well as entire neighborhoods by helping reduce foreclosures and stabilize home prices. It is intended to help homeowners who are struggling to afford their mortgage payments, but cannot sell their homes because prices have fallen significantly.

The goal of this initiative is simple: “reduce the amount homeowners owe per month to sustainable levels.” To accomplish this, lenders are encouraged to lower homeowners' payments to 31 percent of their income by lowering their interest rate to as low as 2% or by extending the terms of the loan. In addition, lenders can also lower the principal owed by the borrower, with Treasury sharing in the costs.

Homeowners who are current on their mortgages but are struggling can still apply for this program. As such, this is one of the few programs designed to help homeowners who may face delinquency soon, but are current at the moment.

Since the focus of this initiative is on helping families and neighborhoods, investment properties do not qualify. This initiative also includes a number of additional elements and incentives that benefit homeowners and lenders alike, including:

Incentives to Help Borrowers Stay Current: To provide an extra incentive for borrowers to keep paying on time, the initiative will provide a monthly balance reduction payment that goes straight towards reducing the principal balance of the mortgage loan. As long as a borrower stays current on his or her loan, he or she can get up to $1,000 each year for five years.
Reaching Borrowers Early: To keep lenders focused on reaching borrowers who are trying their best to stay current on their mortgages, an incentive payment of $500 will be paid to servicers, and an incentive payment of $1,500 will be paid to mortgage holders, if they modify at-risk loans before the borrower falls behind.
Supporting Low Mortgage Rates
As part of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, the Treasury Department is increasing its funding commitment to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure the strength and security of the mortgage market and to help maintain mortgage affordability. This portion of the plan will use using funds already authorized in 2008 by Congress for this purpose.

The increased funding will enable Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to carry out ambitious efforts to ensure mortgage affordability for responsible homeowners, and provide forward-looking confidence in the mortgage market.

Again, the government plans to unveil the final details of the plan on March 4, 2009. For now, you can download a sheet of common Questions and Answers produced by the government at:

I will continue monitoring the plan as new information becomes available. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how this may specifically impact you, I’d be happy to sit down with you. Just call or email me to set up an appointment.

Stimulus Plan In a Nutshell

Stimulus Plan In a Nutshell

Tax Credit for Homebuyers
First-time homebuyers who purchase homes from the start of the year until the end of November 2009 may be eligible for the lower of an $8,000 or 10% of the value of the home tax credit. Remember a tax credit is very different than a tax deduction – a tax credit is equivalent to money in your hand, as opposed to a tax deduction which only reduces your taxable income.

The tax credit starts phasing out for couples with incomes above $150,000 and single filers with incomes above $75,000. Buyers will have to repay the credit if they sell their homes within three years.

Tax Credit Versus Tax Deduction

It’s important to remember that the $8,000 tax credit is just that… a tax credit. The benefit of a tax credit is that it’s a dollar-for-dollar tax reduction, rather than a reduction in a tax liability that would only save you $1,000 to $1,500 when all was said and done. So, if a homebuyer were to owe $8,000 in income taxes and would qualify for the $8,000 tax credit, they would owe nothing.

Better still, the tax credit is refundable, which means the homebuyer can receive a check for the credit if he or she has little income tax liability. For example, if a homebuyer is liable for $4,000 in income tax, he can offset that $4,000 with half of the tax credit… and still receive a check for the remaining $4,000!

Phaseout Examples

According to the plan, the tax credit starts phasing out for couples with incomes above $150,000 and single filers with incomes above $75,000.

To break down what this phaseout means to homebuyers who are over those amounts, the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) offers the following examples:

Example 1: Assume that a married couple has a modified adjusted gross income of $160,000. The applicable phaseout to qualify for the tax credit is $150,000, and the couple is $10,000 over this amount. Dividing $10,000 by $20,000 yields 0.5. When you subtract 0.5 from 1.0, the result is 0.5. To determine the amount of the partial first-time homebuyer tax credit that is available to this couple, multiply $8,000 by 0.5. The result is $4,000.

Example 2: Assume that an individual homebuyer has a modified adjusted gross income of $88,000. The buyer’s income exceeds $75,000 by $13,000. Dividing $13,000 by $20,000 yields 0.65. When you subtract 0.65 from 1.0, the result is 0.35. Multiplying $8,000 by 0.35 shows that the buyer is eligible for a partial tax credit of $2,800.

For those tracking the math in the examples above, you may be wondering where the “$20,000” came from—that is, why you divide “$10,000 by $20,000” in the first example and “$13,000 by $20,000” in the second example. Here’s where the $20,000 comes into play:

The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGIs between these amounts.

In other words:

• $170,000 – $150,000 = the $20,000 in the first example
• $95,000 – $75,000 = the $20,000 in the second example

Remember, these are general examples. You should always consult your tax advisor for information relating to your specific circumstances.

Homes that Qualify

The tax credit is applicable to any home that will be used as a principal residence. Based on that guideline, qualifying homes include single-family detached homes, as well as attached homes such as townhouses and condominiums. In addition, manufactured or homes and houseboats used for principal residence also qualify.

Higher Loan Amounts

More good news – there is an extension on the additional tier of conforming loan amounts which had been first established in 2008. This tier of home loans are those greater than $417,000, and with a maximum that depends on the area, but is not greater than $729,750. These loans will again be eligible for rates that are slightly higher than conforming loan rates, but less expensive than the standard “jumbo” loan rates.

FHFA News Release -

Additional Housing-Related Provisions

Tax Incentives to Spur Energy Savings and Green Jobs — This provision is designed to help promote energy-efficient investments in homes by extending and expanding tax credits through 2010 for purchases such as new furnaces, energy-efficient windows and doors, or insulation.

Landmark Energy Savings — This provision provides $5 Billion for energy efficient improvements for more than one million modest-income homes through weatherization. According to some estimates, this can help modest-income families save an average of $350 a year on heating and air conditioning bills.

Repairing Public Housing and Making Key Energy Efficiency Retrofits To HUD-Assisted Housing—This provision provides a total of $6.3 Billion for increasing energy efficiency in federally supported housing programs.Specifically, it establishes a new program to upgrade HUD-sponsored low-income housing (for elderly, disabled, and Section 8) to increase energy efficiency, including new insulation, windows, and frames.

Expanding Housing Assistance—This provision increases support for several critical housing programs. It includes $2 Billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help communities purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed, vacant properties.

More Help for Homeowners in the Future
Another thing to keep an eye on in the coming weeks is President Obama’s plan to help struggling borrowers before they are faced with a default on their mortgage.

According to reports, the Obama administration is discussing plans to help borrowers who are struggling to stay afloat, but who have not yet fallen behind on their payments. At this point, details are scarce; however, reports indicate that President Obama is looking to spend approximately $50 Billion to directly help homeowners before they face foreclosure and financial disaster.

While this is good news for individual homeowners, it will likely be good for the housing industry as a whole. That’s because, assisting struggling borrowers before they default should help stop the wave of foreclosures, which are estimated to top two million this year. That, in turn, will help stabilize home prices.

The Economic Stimulus Plan is huge, and impacts a number of industries. I’ve highlighted some of the major provisions that may impact you now and in the future.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to discuss how this may specifically impact you, I’d be happy to sit down with you. Just call or email me to set up an appointment.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Could A Homebuyers Tax Credit Be In Our Future?

I am often getting asked if and when it is a good time to "jump in" and buy Real Estate. Read the following article- if you don't think the great prices on property are enough to entice you, perhaps a "buyer's tax credit" would be the topping on the cake!

Calls Growing Louder For A Homebuyers Tax Credit..........

because prices are more realistic and waiting until Congress does anything may waste a golden opportunity for savings. This theory of "buy now vs. later" involves the savings on interest should you wait to purchase when rates go up, as well as missing out on the perfect home you may find.

The National Association of REALTORS® testified recently that a temporary tax credit would be the best incentive to move hesitant home buyers into the market. NAR based its support on the success of a 1975 temporary tax credit designed to "clear an over-supply of newly constructed homes during an economic downturn."

“We urge Congress to move quickly to conference and final passage of this tax incentive,” said Jim Helsel, a NAR Official. Testifying for NAR, Helsel noted “three critical features for an optimal home buyer tax credit.” The credit should apply to all residential real estate, not solely foreclosed properties; it should be temporary and only apply for a short period of time; and it should provide higher income limits than those the House has imposed, particularly for single individuals. “If these measures are put in place, many individuals who are sitting on the fence will take steps to buy a home. This would not only help homeowners, buyers and sellers, but it could also expand activity as individuals furnish, paint and improve their homes. This would help boost the nation’s economy,” Helsel said.

Another result of more homes being sold would be the economic stimulus. The average household will spend more money right after move-in than in any other time-frame in homeownership. From remodeling the new home to buying new appliances, homeowners still drive the economy.

Another organization with a vested interest is the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In 1975, when there was almost a three-year supply of vacant houses on hand, lawmakers approved a $6,000 credit spread over three annual installments of $2,000 per year.

According to the NAHB, that carrot brought enough buyers into the market that builders and their subcontractors were able to get back to work. Inventories fell and production doubled, taking the pressure off of housing prices.
This time around, the builders are angling for a $10,000 credit, maintaining that on a price-adjusted basis, that amount is equal to the 1975 credit. There will be continuing coverage of this issue in the next e-alert . Most insiders agree that any new laws will probably include sales that occurred previous to enactment.

So if you are in need of new housing, even just as an investment, jump on the opportunity because if the tax credit is enacted you would probably not loose out. Please consult your sponsor for more suggestions on your individual situation.

(Reprinted from Inman)

Monday, June 30, 2008

The purpose of a home inspection

Why you should get an Inspection?

Whether you are buying or selling a home, you should have a professional home inspection performed.

A home inspection will look at the systems that make up the building such as:

Structural elements, foundation, framing etc
Plumbing systems
Electrical systems
Cosmetic condition, paint, siding etc

If you are buying a home, you need to know exactly what you are getting. A home inspection, performed by a professional home inspector, will reveal any hidden problems with the home so that they may be addressed BEFORE the deal is closed. You should require an inspection at the time you make a formal offer. Make sure the contract has an inspection contingency. Then, hire your own inspector and pay close attention to the inspection report. If you aren't comfortable with what he finds, you should kill the deal.

Likewise, if you are selling a home, you want to know about such potential hidden problems before your house goes on the market. Almost all contracts include the condition that the contract is contingent upon completion of a satisfactory inspection. And most buyer's are going to insist that the inspection be a professional home inspection, usually by an inspector they hire. If the buyer's inspector finds a problem, it can cause the buyer to get cold feet and the deal can often fall through. At best, surprise problems uncovered by the buyer's inspector will cause delays in closing, and usually you will have to pay for repairs at the last minute, or take a lower price on your home.

It's better to pay for your own inspection before putting your home on the market. Find out about any hidden problems and correct them in advance. Otherwise, you can count on the buyer's inspector finding them, at the worst possible time.

I know the best in the business. Contact me for more advice! 800-680-9133

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I found this interesting article regarding the surcharge that was being charged by Freddie and Fannie. This should help our market. It's worth reading.

If you have been thinking of buying investment property- now is the time. I can find you property that will provide a positive cash flow for you. Homeowners who have had their homes foreclosed on need housing. Many of these people are not "deadbeats." When you look at their credit, they have always paid their bills on time- until their loans readjusted. Then they were stuck. Usually everything else has remained paid on time. These previous homeowners make great tenants!

Call me to look at your investment potential!

Fannie and Freddie reverse the policy that made buyers cough up bigger down payments in certain locales.

By Kenneth R. Harney, Washington Post Writers Group
May 25, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Could the controversial mortgage industry practice of listing hundreds of local real estate markets as "declining" -- and restricting lending through higher down payments or credit scores -- be scrapped?

The two biggest players in the home mortgage field, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, did precisely that on May 16. Reversing its policy of penalizing buyers in troubled real estate markets with 5% higher down payments, Fannie Mae switched to a nationally uniform policy of charging borrowers the same minimum down payments irrespective of location. A spokesman for Freddie Mac, Brad German, said his company would be "suspending" its declining markets policy indefinitely as well.

Starting June 1, mortgage applicants who are underwritten by Fannie Mae's automated system online will qualify for 3% minimum down payments, wherever the property is located.

Borrowers whose applications require "manual" underwriting will pay 5% minimum down payments.

Under Fannie Mae's prior system, applicants buying in designated declining markets had to contribute 5% extra in upfront equity compared with borrowers in nondeclining market areas.

Freddie Mac's policy, which never employed a list of areas designated as declining, relied instead on lenders to flag applications using appraisal data or home price indexes. Freddie's policy also required 5% higher equity contributions upfront.

Critics -- including the National Assn. of Realtors and consumer advocacy groups -- had charged that Fannie Mae's policy served to further depress sales and real estate values in areas tainted as declining.

They also argued that many metropolitan markets experiencing price decreases contain sub-markets performing relatively well, and they do not deserve to be underwritten as high risk.

Marianne Sullivan, Fannie Mae's senior vice president for single-family credit and risk management, said the policy reversal was possible because of improvements to the company's automated underwriting system, allowing it to "assess each loan more precisely."

The change was welcomed by national real estate and housing groups.

Dick Gaylord, president of the National Assn. of Realtors, said the termination of a policy that "stigmatized" certain communities will "help stabilize the credit markets."

David Berenbaum, executive vice president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said his group hopes the revised policies at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will prove to be "a model for others to follow."

Whether that happens any time soon, however, is far from certain. Private mortgage insurers, who provide loss protection to lenders on loans with low down payments, have virtually all adopted highly restrictive policies affecting ZIP Codes or metropolitan areas they designate as declining.

MGIC, the largest-volume insurer, recently expanded its list of distressed markets along with a series of cutbacks on specific types of low-equity loans. As of June 1, MGIC will not insure condominium mortgages in the state of Florida. It also has abandoned cash-out refinancings and loans on investment properties.

PMI Group, another major underwriter, has banned cash-out refis or investor loans in areas it judges to be distressed. Genworth Financial will not consider applications on second homes anywhere in Florida. AIG United Guaranty no longer will write insurance on condominiums in any of hundreds of ZIP Codes around the country that are on its declining markets list.

Asked whether his firm might reevaluate its declining markets restrictions in light of the abrupt changes at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Terry Souers, a spokesman for Genworth Financial's mortgage insurance unit, said: "We're aware of their actions and will take them into consideration to see if additional steps are necessary."

But Michael J. Zimmerman, senior vice president of investor relations for MGIC, shot down hopes for any quick abandonment of declining markets restrictions at his firm. "We're not contemplating any changes," he said.

MGIC, which reported a $1.4 billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2007 and a $34 million loss for the first quarter of this year, has been hit hard by claims following foreclosures and extended delinquencies in once-booming housing markets.

What's the trend line here?

Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's policy switches should open the door to some additional low-down-payment mortgages -- and home sales -- in local areas once tagged as declining.

However, without the participation of private mortgage insurers -- who report solely to stock market investors rather than to Congress -- many borrowers will likely have to turn to the Federal Housing Administration, which accepts 3% down, does not have declining markets restrictions and whose loans can be purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Ken Harney can be reached at