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

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

Monday, June 23, 2008

Prepare your grounds

The Back Yard
You only get one chance to make a first impression. When buyers are looking at your home, they will usually know almost instantly whether they like it or not. Make sure that by the time they get to looking at the back yard, you keep that great first impression going. Especially during summer months, when buyers will be thinking about barbeques and children playing, the back yard can make an important impression.

If you have a pool or hot tub make sure you keep it looking clean and neat. If your lawn is looking a little bit weak, some fertilizer and watering will bring back the deep green color. Be sure you mow and edge your lawn frequently until your home is sold. Cut back overgrown shrubs to show more of the exterior of your home. It will look more tidy and also makes the yard look bigger. Fences should be in good repair, and you should consider painting them. Make sure all latches and hinges are in good working order. If you have a dog, be extra vigilant to keep the “evidence” to a minimum. You can plant a few annuals to add some instant color that looks great. If you have a patio, make sure the furniture is clean and strategically placed. Consider adding some potted plants.

In short, do everything you can to make your back yard look as inviting and large as possible. It could mean the difference between an excited buyer and one with nagging doubts!

I have many more tips for showing your home in the best possible way! Contact me at 800-680-9133.


This following report was just released. I thought you might find it interesting. This could be the time for you to invest in low priced "sale" property, so that when the market bounces back, you can make money on your investments. Right now, if you invest, rent your investments out to those who have been displaced due to foreclosures.

Harvard report finds immigration, other demographic trends will fuel housing demand over the next decade.

By Beth Braverman, contributing writer
Last Updated: June 23, 2008: 7:56 AM EDT
NEW YORK ( -- The current housing market is bleak: home prices and sales are plummeting, foreclosure proceedings are skyrocketing and mortgage rates are on the rise.

When will things be better?

A new study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, "The State of the Nation's Housing 2008," finds the country poised to see an increase in housing demand over the next decade.

"The good news is that we still have a growing population," said Nicolas Retsinas, director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies and one of the study's authors. "As long as you have more households, more people are going to need places to live."
Social trends - people getting married later and divorced more often - are making single-person households the fastest growing household type, the study finds. In addition, a long-term net increase in potential home buyers will be driven by demographic factors: the aging of "echo boomers" into adulthood, an increased life expectancy for baby boomers and projected annual immigration of 1.2 million.
From 2010 to 2020, the number of households in the United States will grow by an average of more than 1.4 million per year, the study finds.

Unsold homes block growth

Still, before the housing market can turn around, it must first work off the record numbers of unsold homes on the market. From 2005 to 2007, the number of new and existing vacant homes for sale rose 46% to 2.12 million.
The nationwide glut of unsold homes has hit the real estate market hard, forcing down sale prices, stemming new construction and leaving millions of homeowners with properties worth less than the value of their mortgage.
In early 2008, the nation had an 11-month supply of unsold new homes and a 10.7-month supply of existing single-family homes, according to the Harvard study. A six-month supply of existing homes is considered a buyers' market. Reducing the current supply will require price declines, a decrease in interest rates, employment growth, a return of consumer confidence and the revival of accessible mortgage credit.
A reduction in new home construction is another key to decreasing inventory, Retsinas said. Privately owned housing starts fell 3.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 975,000 in May from 1 million in April, according to the Commerce Department.

A sharp drop-off in housing starts has precipitated housing turnarounds in previous bubble-bust cycles, said Karl Case, a Wellesley College economics professor and a co-founder of real estate consulting firm Fiserv CSW. Case also sees long-term growth in the housing market and agrees that immigration and other demographic trends will help fuel a long-term recovery.

"If household formation continues at pace, prices will recover and starts will rise again," Case said.
In the housing bust of the early 1990s, cities with big immigrant populations, like Los Angeles, recovered more quickly than other metropolitan areas, like Boston, with lower foreign-born, said Case.

"Not all immigrants buy houses, but many immigrants buy houses," Case said. "That has a positive effect on the prices in a market."

Regional recoveries

Retsinas said parts of the country, such as the Northeast, with fewer vacant homes could see signs of a recovery in spring 2009. He was less sanguine about markets like the Southwest, where excessive overbuilding at the height of the market means it could take two years or more to sell off excess inventory.

Recovery in the Midwest represents that biggest challenge, because the housing downturn there stems from regional economic problems beyond overbuilding.

"They're not reacting to an overheated housing market there," Retsinas said. "They live in an economy that is shedding jobs."

First Published: June 23, 2008: 3:49 AM EDT

Monday, June 16, 2008

Manufactured vs Modular Homes

What is a manufactured home and how does it differ from a modular home?

A manufactured home (also known as a mobile home) is a single or multi-sectional home built on a permanent frame, like a steel undercarriage/chassis, with a removable transportation system (hitch and wheels). The unit is permanently attached to a site-built foundation and is subject to the 1976 federal standards established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

A modular home is constructed in a factory using conventional home floor joists and delivered to a site on a trailer or flat bed truck. The delivered home may be in the form of panels that are assembled at the site, may be pre-cut and assembled on site, or may be pre-built and delivered in one piece. The home, panels or pre-cut panels are lifted from the trailer and attached to a foundation. A modular home may be single or multi-storied. Modular homes are not subject to HUD standards, but must be built to state and local Uniform Building Codes.

I specialize in senior communities as well. Contact me at 800-680-9133 if you are thinking of Downsizing? Selling? Puchasing?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Is a Gated Community something for you?

Gated Communities

The popularity of living in gated, or private communities has been rising in recent years. It used to be that gated communities were thought of as being only for the rich. But today they are becoming more and more popular with middle and upper middle class families. Security is usually given as the biggest reason for choosing to live in a gated community. Among the other reasons people are attracted to living in these communities are protecting property values and lifestyle.Many gated communities are designed with amenities built around a particular lifestyle, with golf courses, tennis, swimming pools, or equestrian facilities.Gated communities are usually located on some of the most desirable land in the area. Prime land, combined with careful planning and HOA rules create an environment where home values hold up extremely well.

Aside from the gates or walls, the second most defining characteristic of gated or private communities is the Homeowner’s Association (HOA).The HOA is made up of all the owners of the development. The HOA is responsible for collection of the Association fees and making and enforcing the “rules” of the community.It is often also responsible for maintaining the public aspects of the community, such as streets, security, parks, etc.

The rules set by the HOA can vary a great deal, depending on the individual development.Typically the HOA will have rules pertaining to upkeep and appearance of homes within the development, specifying the colors of paint on outside walls, types of fencing, guidelines for landscaping and storage of boats or recreational vehicles.

Gated communities aren't for everyone.But with strong protection of property values, increased security, less traffic and amenities for your specific lifestyle, they are appealing to more people each year.

If you are interested in purchasing please call me at 800-680-9133

Monday, June 2, 2008

Deciding if a Fixer upper is good for you

Be sure you are prepared for a Fixer-upper.

The oft heard phrase "Buyer Beware" is never more appropriate than when considering the purchase of a fixer-upper.You really need to know exactly what you’re getting into before buying.

It’s commonly believed that fixer-upper properties represent easy money that is ripe for the taking - that you can buy it, do a little work on it in your spare time, and then resell quickly for a large profit. Usually, this simply isn't the case. Although, with proper planning and foresight, good profits can be made by buying "distressed" properties at less than market value, making appropriate improvements and repairs, and then reselling. And for many first time buyers who intend to live in the house while working on it, buying a fixer-upper can be the very best option. It’s less risky buying a fixer-upper when you can live in the house while fixing it. And of course, by living in the house for at least 24 months you should be able to avoid paying regular income taxes on the profits.

The most important thing to know before making a decision on such a purchase is what needs to be fixed. Any time you are spending money on improving a home with the notion of selling it later, strive to spend your money on things that buyers can easily see. Things like new paint and removing trash from the property cost little but have instant impact on curb appeal. Houses that have only cosmetic problems like peeling paint, a trashy yard, bad carpet or wallpaper are the best bet. This is especially true for the first time buyer looking to live in the house for a while before reselling. Fixing and cleaning cosmetic issues is fairly easy and inexpensive. It virtually always gives gives a good return on investment, particularly when you can do the work yourself. Kitchen and bathroom remodeling usually pays a nice return. Don’t be afraid of buying a fixer-upper in need of this kind of repair. Properties with structural damage, or a floor plan that requires major work to remedy, usually can’t be "fixed up" at a profit.

Always have an inspection for hidden damage performed by a home inspector or construction professional before buying a fixer-upper. Make sure that satisfactory completion of such inspections are a condition of purchase in any contract you sign. Then be sure to negotiate to try and get the seller to pay for all or part of the cost of needed repairs uncovered by the inspection. Often, sellers will be willing to lower the sales price to sell the home "as is" instead of paying for the repairs.

Be careful that you don’t over pay. Especially if you plan to resell quickly, paying too much up front can doom your plans for quick profit. Research the market for reselling and have an exit plan for selling the house in place before making an offer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A tip for home Sellers

As a seller there are important elements to selling your home. Make sure your home is easy to show!

To get your home sold quickly, it’s important that other agents in the area show it to as many potential buyers as possible. The first thing a good agent will do when working with buyers is talk to the buyer and learn what kind of home they are looking for. Then the agent will search all the available homes for those most closely matching what the buyer wants. Next, the agent puts together a list of the best matches to go show to the buyer. When a busy agent is compiling a list of homes to show a buyer, the agent will naturally tend to show those houses that are easiest to gain access to first. Many homes on the market have “lock boxes” on them. The lock box is a device which holds a key to the home, that only qualified local agents can access. Homes that are listed as being “lock box, no appointment needed” will get shown more often than homes listed as “agent has key, call for appointment”. If at all possible, you should let your agent put a lock box on your home for easier showing.

If you can’t do a lock box, you need to be sure that you make it as convenient and easy as possible for other agents to show your home. If they call, do whatever you have to do to accommodate letting them show your home to buyers on their schedule. If you don’t, the agent will probably show the buyer other homes, and if that buyer makes an offer on one of them, you’ve just lost a great opportunity.

It’s best if you can leave when the agent and buyer arrive to see your home. Buyers won’t feel comfortable with you there, and it could sour an otherwise good impression.

If you are thinking of listing your home please call me today! 800-680-9133

Monday, March 31, 2008


In my travels around the real estate industry, I find that most buyers are aware that they should have a home inspection of a resale home that they purchase. Often, though, I find that people don't realize that they should inspect new construction before they close escrow. They wonder why they would need to when "everything is new." Always, always have a home inspection --- on ANYTHING that you purchase. It's just too big of a purchase not to be completely informed about!

Below, home inspector Mark Chaffee, owner of WIN Home Inspection answers some questions regarding home inspections on new construction.

"Why would I need to have an inspection on a brand new home?" I get asked this question a lot and the simple answer is: to protect your investment.
Buying a newly constructed home gives you the opportunity to customize details that make a house your own. But how can you be sure that the quality of your new home isn’t only skin deep? New construction inspections from WIN monitor the home building process at critical building stages. The inspection looks to verify that the construction is sound and will provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your new home.
Move-In Inspection: This home inspection is performed when construction is finished and ready for occupancy, but prior to the final walk through by the builder. You get critical information about your new home prior to closing and it gives the builder time to make any necessary corrections before the purchase is finalized.
One-Year Anniversary Inspection: This home inspection is performed approximately 30 days before the expiration of the builder's one-year new home warranty. It addresses any warranty-related concerns that you may want to bring to the builder's attention, and allows time for any necessary repairs before the warranty expires.

Mark’s vast experience and certification as a home inspector make him an expert in home maintenance. His contact info:
WIN Home Inspection
P.O. Box 235260
Encinitas, CA 92023


Last month, President Bush signed the Economic Stimulus Package into law - setting aside $168 billion in tax rebates and incentives to help boost the US economy. Those tax rebates are getting ready to hit the mail. So when should you expect yours? That depends on a few factors, including when you file your 2007 tax return, whether you choose direct deposit, and believe it or not...what your social security number is

Timing Is Everything! We all know the deadline for filing your 2007 taxes is quickly approaching. But you may want to be ahead of the curve if you want your tax rebate sooner, rather than later. That's because tax rebates will start going out on May 2... but only to taxpayers who have their returns "processed" - not just sent - by April 15. The closer it gets to mid-April, the more the IRS gets backed up to process the flood of returns--sometimes taking a couple of weeks to complete. E-filers will get their rebates more quickly, since electronic returns can be processed faster. However, even e-filers should have their returns in by April 10 to be safe.

Tax rebate checks will start going out on May 2. Here is how it will work... taxpayers who chose direct deposit will be first in line. According to the IRS, all direct deposit tax rebates will be wired between May 2 and May 16. Paper checks won't start going out until May 16, and aren't expected to be completed until mid-July.

Who goes first? The IRS needs some way to determine the order of distributions, so tax rebates will be distributed in order of the last two digits of your Social Security numberthe lower your number, the sooner you'll receive your payment. For a detailed breakdown of the order, take a look at the IRS's Stimulus Payment Schedule on their website.

About seven to ten days before your rebate is sent, the IRS will send you a notice informing you how much it will be. If you signed up for direct deposit, however, you'll probably receive that information in the mail about the same time your rebate is deposited into your account, since direct deposit transactions are processed so quickly. But you don't have to wait that long to determine approximately how much you'll receive. To calculate your approximate rebate, visit the new OnLine Stimulous Calculator on the IRS website.

Finally, it's important to remember that the rebate check will not be counted as taxable income and will not reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2008 return. However, if you owe back taxes, the IRS will apply your rebate to that bill and send you whatever is left over.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Have Braggin' Rights!

This is a recent release in our local paper about "yours truly!" What an honor!

Patti Phillips Honored for Excellent Service

Patti Phillips, a broker associate with Prudential California Realty’s Encinitas office, will be among a small percentage of agents in San Diego to be recognized as a “FIVE STAR: Best in Client Satisfaction Real Estate Agent” in San Diego Magazine’s March 2008 issue. The awards are a result of a survey by the magazine, in which researchers polled over 30,000 recent home buyers, readers, mortgage lenders and title companies to identify exceptional real estate agents in San Diego County.

Dedicated to serving her community as well as her clientele, Phillips served as president of the North San Diego County Women’s Council of Realtors in 2007. Her most rewarding experience with a client involved helping a widow who found the real estate transaction process overwhelming. “By working with repairmen, contractors, termite people, and cleaning crews, I was able to make the experience stress-free and easy for her,” said Phillips.

A 20-year veteran of the real estate business, Phillips has earned the prestigious Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation, and is an International Fine Homes Specialist. Her strategy for success involves treating others how she would like to be treated, and analyzing each situation to figure out the course of action that is in her client’s best interest.

“Patti is constantly improving her knowledge of the industry, and striving to find ways to better serve her clients,” said Nelson White, manager of Prudential California Realty’s Encinitas office. “Her enthusiasm for self-improvement is one of the reasons she is one of the top producing agents in my office.”

Patti Phillips can be contacted through Prudential California Realty’s Encinitas office, at 1-800-680-9133, or via email at


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Free Credit Reports Are Your Right! Don't Pay for One!

Credit Reports Are Your Right!
Don’t Pay For One!

Did you know that by law you are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three big credit bureaus? Those are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. They are more than happy to provide you with it, and there is a web-site that will order them for you free! Just be certain that you go to the right place- because if you don’t you will be charged!

The site that you want is There you can order free reports from all three bureaus. There is also a free number you can call to request your credit reports: 877-322-8228. Be careful when you order, because there are many others that SOUND the same, they will attract you with the promise of a free report, and then lure you into other services, many that will cost you money every month. Even the credit bureaus will try to sell you packages. These services can vary from Identity Theft reporting to credit monitoring, at costs from $9.95 to over $30.00 per month.

Are the services worth buying? Monitoring does alert you to unusual activity on your credit report, but if you don’t like paying a monthly fee, you can use free reports to do a periodic checkup. How? Rather than order all 3 reports at once, order a free report from a different agency each 4 months. This will help you to monitor any unusual activity. It is important that you look for anything on your credit which is not 100% correct- as well as possible identity theft.

After you place an order at, the credit bureau you specified will mail you the report, or you may be able to download it. Be certain to check it carefully- a 2004 study by U.S. Federation of State Public Interest Research Groups found 25% of reports contained serious errors. I know that in my own personal credit reports I have found numerous errors over the years.

You want to make certain your report is clean and stays clean so that if you want to obtain a mortgage or other loan you aren’t paying a higher interest rate because of erroneous items on your report. If you find ANYTHING incorrect, be certain to document it in a letter, send any supporting documentation and send a copy of the report with the error highlighted to the agency, requesting it be removed immediately. Keep a copy of everything you send in a file, just in case it doesn’t get handled or it reappears in future reports.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Is Your Home Safe From Burglers? Watch Out!

In our day and age we like to feel that we are safe. Our cars have alarms. We have nanny monitors to protect our children. You name it, we have it. But what if you found out that by simply buying a $2.00 item off of the internet any would-be burglar could simply open the locks on your home?

I was shocked to watch a video that a friend just sent me. You’ll want to watch this and do what you can to keep your home and family safe.

Since the video was forwarded to me, I can't post it on this blog. However, e-mail me and I will be happy to forward it on to you. What this video shows is an item called a "bump-key" which will fit into, and turn almost every common lock. I'll tell you, what I saw was frightening!

After I viewed the video I went on to You Tube, and there you will find videos that describe this disturbing practice, as well as dozens of videos that are telling would-be criminals how to make, purchase or find bump-keys that they can use. (I must say though, none of the You Tube videos are as top quality as the one that was forwarded to me.)

Since my job is helping people to fiachieve the American Dream, I certainly don't want to see people walking off with it's contents!

Let me know if you would like me to forward the lock bumping video, just put Lockbumping into the subject and I'll see you get it.

Meanwhile, stay safe!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mortgage Debt Forgiven!

Mortgage Debt Forgiven

Thanks to legislation passed by congress, effective Jan 1, 2008, distressed homeowners will not be required to pay taxes on mortgage debt written off or forgiven as part of a bankruptcy, short sale, foreclosure, or renegotiation that involved the homeowner’s principal residence. Under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, up to $2 million of indebtedness is shielded from taxes if the debt is the result of construction, acquisition and major improvement of the principal residence. (Use caution if you refinanced your home and drew money out. Ask a tax specialist whether you may be taxed in this circumstance.) The act applies to debt discharges from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2009. (Found in California Real Estate magazine, Mar. 2008)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Major Lenders Put Freeze on Foreclosures

I just came across this article and thought it might be helpful to some of you regarding homes that may be in line for foreclosures. This could give hope to some homeowners who are in tough situations. I hope you find it useful. If you have any real estate questions, or I may be of help to you in any way, please don't hesitate to give me a call!

Major Lenders Put Freeze on Foreclosures
Banks will halt foreclosure proceedings to give lenders time to work out delinquency solutions. It's the latest attempt to tackle the housing crisis.

By Les Christie, staff writer
February 12 2008: 4:46 PM EST
NEW YORK ( -- Six of the nation's largest mortgage lenders, in a joint effort to cool the raging foreclosure crisis, have agreed to temporarily stop foreclosure proceedings on homeowners who have fallen seriously behind in their house payments.
Under a program unveiled Tuesday, legal efforts to oust seriously delinquent borrowers from their homes will be postponed for 30 days while lenders and borrowers try to work out payment options.
The effort, known as Project Lifeline, will not be confined to borrowers with adjustable rate mortgages. So-called ARMs have recorded the highest rates of delinquencies, even as default for loans of all types have risen dramatically over the past couple of years.
"For many families, Project Lifeline will temporarily pause the foreclosure process long enough to find a way out. Loan modifications may follow," said Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. "This program is not only available to subprime borrowers but to people with any kind of home mortgage."
The banks so far participating in the program are Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Countrywide (CFC, Fortune 500), Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Washington Mutual (WM, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500).
Project Lifeline was put together with the backing of Jackson, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Faith Schwartz, director of Hope Now, the government-backed, foreclosure prevention coalition.
Paulson said the effort won't be a magic bullet.
"There'll be homeowners who still take no action, and some will still walk away," Paulson said. "But some borrowers facing immediate foreclosures may find solutions."
Throwing homeowners a lifeline
Under the program, homeowners 90 days or more behind in their mortgages will get a letter from their lenders asking them to call. Borrowers will be asked if they want to stay in their homes; if so, they will be offered financial counseling.
Loan modifications are not automatically granted. Borrowers will have to provide up-to-date information about their wages and debts. At that point, the lenders decide whether to pause the foreclosure process.
During the moratorium, foreclosure prevention specialists will determine if there's a good possibility that a loan modification will work. In other words, will a borrower be able to regain his footing and start paying his mortgage again?
Any loan modifications - such as lowering interest rates, balances or both - will be provisional. After homeowners make payments on time for three months, the changes to the terms of loans will become permanent.
For lenders, repossessing homes has become an increasingly unprofitable venture. As real estate markets have turned down, many at-risk mortgage borrowers are upside-down - meaning they owe more on their loan than their home is worth.
These days, lenders often lose money when they foreclose on and resell properties - an average of $50,000 per home. It's cheaper to work out a deal with defaulting borrowers.
Reaction: Applause and questions
The moratorium idea has been raised before.
"Many people have been calling for a moratorium on foreclosures," said John Taylor, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. "I look on it as a good thing."
Last April, civil rights groups, noting that minorities were bearing the worst impact of the foreclosure crisis, called for a six month halt in foreclosure proceedings. In May, the California Reinvestment Coalition, a community advocacy group, lobbied state legislatures for a similar, statewide plan. This past December, Sen. Hillary Clinton went on record supporting a 90-day halt.
Jim Rokakis, treasurer of Cuyahoga County in Ohio, which has been hard hit by foreclosures questioned the initiative.
"Does this mean you're going to do it again in 120 days?" he asked. Subprime resets will peak again in the spring and Hope Now's effort includes notification of resets 120 days in advance.
"If they really want to make an impact they will require mandatory counseling before foreclosure can be completed. If you can't do it, you can't foreclose," Rokakis said.
As the foreclosure crisis deepened - more than 2.2 million foreclosures were filed in 2007, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosure properties - government forces and industry players expanded the scope of prevention efforts.
Jackson, the HUD secretary, said that Project Lifeline is just one effort to tackle the mortgage crisis. He cited FHASecure, which is refinancing many adjustable rate mortgage borrowers into government insured fixed rate loans; a five-year rate freeze, brokered by the Treasury Department, for many subprime ARM borrowers; and the provisions of the economic stimulus package that increase cap limits for loans eligible for purchase by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
"The sum total of these actions is a powerful correction to the downward spiral of the housing market," said Jackson.
Still, the nation's housing crisis is deep and unlikely to ease up soon.
"In terms of subprime, the worst is just beginning," said Treasury Secretary Paulson. "The loans resetting over the next couple of years - that vintage was done under the most lax underwriting standards."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Conforming Loan Limits To Go UP!

You may have heard that the conforming loan limits are going to be increased. This, along with low interest rates could make quite a difference in our market! If you have been "on the fence" about whether or not it is time to buy- get in the game!

Check out this link, telling about the conforming rate change:

Meanwhile, I appreciate and welcome your comments, questions and suggestions!

Remember, I am, always-

Your Realtor for Life.......

Patti Phillips

Getting Your Home Sold in Today's Market

Do you wonder what it takes to get a home sold these days? Do you have friends who are thinking of selling, or might currently have their home on the market?

Check out this fantastic video from the Today Show’s Real Estate expert, Barbara Corcoran, sharing advice on the top 5 mistakes that sellers make in today’s market…Barbara was one of the top realtor's in Manhattan for many years before recently selling her business, The Corcoran Real Estate Group. She really is an expert who "knows her stuff."

The video is about 5 minutes long and if you have moment, I encourage you to take a look – she has some excellent tips on how to achieve your goals.
I’d love to hear your comments – please reply or call me and let me know what you think!


Patti Phillips

Friday, January 4, 2008

Don't reduce your price to sell your home!

Your home is up for sale, but the market is slow. Finally, you get an offer on your home, but it is for less than you would like to take. Should you reduce your price to get it sold? Perhaps not! Instead, you may want to offer to buy down the buyer's interest rate.

Monthly payments:

If you reduce the price by $20,000 on your listing you will save the buyer $103.00 per month-
however, if you use the same $20,000 to buy down the interest rate you will save the buyer $541.00 per month!

Qualifying for a loan:

Did you know that a buyer of your $450,000 listing needs $96,000 in income to qualify for the loan. However the buyer of your reduced $439,000 listing needs $94,200 in income to qualify for the loan. If you took that same $11,000 dollar reduction and paid down the interest rate, that listing needs only 474,400 in income to qualify for the loan!

Care for more examples? Feel free to contact me and I'll show you how it works! Remember, with many people, they don't care what the price is. The monthly payment, the down payment and the ability to close the escrow are what would make the difference!

Until next time,

Patti Phillips

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Real Estate Market in San Diego?

Everyone always asks, “What’s going on in the market? Has it reached the bottom? Is it a good time to buy or invest? Below is a synopsis of some recent articles discussing the San Diego market. 2007 has been a tumultuous year in real estate almost everywhere in the United States and San Diego was no different, although maybe a little better than some areas.

· Economic indicators remain good. Interest rates are at very low levels, local Employment levels are strong, inflation is under control and the gross domestic product is growing. The current unemployment rate in San Diego county is about 4.8%. Some experts predict a net gain of about 5,000 jobs over the next year.

· The loan debacle needs to be put into perspective. While the subprime loan situation is a tragedy for some only about 10% of homes are financed with subprime loans. Many subprime loans will never be foreclosed so most of those borrowers have had a chance to own a home they would not have owned otherwise. The foreclosure rate on prime loans is usually about 0.6% to give some perspective. Real estate is a long term ownership proposition, so hopefully those subprime homeowners that survive will have a chance to build some equity over time and to take advantage of some of the concessions that have been made by their lenders.

· Local construction is way down and we are running out of buildable land in San Diego which bodes well eventually for existing properties. Once builders finish discounting their existing inventories the pressure that puts on other resale homes will diminish.

· Housing prices in many areas are still above their levels of 3-4 years ago. Several “experts” predict prices will be level to down 4-5% in 2008, so buying a home now on the market for 95% of the listing price gives the downside protection most people desire and could get them into their new home at or near the bottom of the market.

· Foreclosure activity in San Diego has been most concentrated in the south bay areas of Chula Vista and National City, east county and the Route 78 corridor because this is where most of the subprime borrowing took place. When a foreclosure hits the market in these areas it often devalues the entire neighborhood, especially if these foreclosed homes have been left in poor condition by the departing owner. This reduces the "flipping" opportunities for those kinds of buyers. Most of the coastal locales have fared better. As close as I can calculate I think about 5% of our current for sale inventory is foreclosures, although about 25% of the sales closing escrow are foreclosures, meaning it is tougher for non-foreclosure listings to sell unless they price accordingly. Some estimates conclude that about 25% of the foreclosures are investor owned properties, many of which the investor probably hoped to flip for a quick profit. Often for legal reasons the lenders are not taking deeply discounted offers and almost all bank-owned property is sold “as-is”, which sometimes eliminates many buyers who are not in a position to inject significant amounts of capital to bring the home back into prime condition, especially after tenants or angry owners have done their last minute damage. As of 12/31/07, approximately 358 of the 6,019 (6%) active condo listings in San Diego County were identified as bank owned, foreclosure or distress sales and about 602 of the 12,132 (5%) active detached home listings were similarly identified. This is far better than the 25%-50% we hear about in many other parts of the country.

· Tourism, San Diegos dominant industry, remains strong with large numbers of visitors spending time and money here every year. Many of my clients either visited here and wanted to eventually live in San Diego or lived here and moved away for some reason and then moved back.

· Our level of new incoming leads from potential buyers is at high levels and has been for several months with a high percentage opting to start automatic listing alerts, indicating a higher level of interest. This tells me that we could be bottoming out as more and more people are studying the market in preparation for a possible purchase. In fact, last month was the second most productive month of 2007 in terms of the number of incoming buyer inquiries.

2008 should be an interesting year in Real Estate! One always needs to remember, there will always be someone who needs to buy or sell, no matter what the market is! People get married, have more children, have health issues, job changes, scale down..... on and on.

I caution you that in this market, when listing, you really need to make certain that you are working with a top agent who is willing to spend the time, effort and money in seeing that your home get sold!

Meanwhile, I wish you a Happy 2008!