Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holidays 'food drive'

We have been doing the 'food drive' for the last 2 months.
We distributed brochures and on the designated days we would go out and collect the foods. It is the food drive collection for the local food banks.

We only ask for canned and non-perishable foods. Each Realtor volunteered and picked his/her own designated routes. Many of us collected bags and bags of foods each time we conducted the drive, some had less, depended on the route.

We have one more designated day to collect the food.

We also designated Saturday, 2-3 Realtors from our office would take turn and work at Walmart, Albertson & Stater Brothers supermarkets to collete foods from shoppes. We ask them on the way to their shopping to get extra can of food and donate.
We sign up in our office to work from 10 to 4pm. This is arranged ahead of time and we got permissions from the managers to set up the tables in the front of the stores.

Many people with children are very generous and they donated several big bags of foods. They are teaching their children to give and share during the holidays.

Some people are visibly irritated that we bothered them.
It takes certain personality to go up to people and ask them for donation (begging), I think at my age, I can take it lol.

One Sat I went in for a 12 to 2 pm spot and had to help another Realtor so I filled up the spot until 4 since no other Realtor signed up for the 2 to 4 slot.

I am going to work at Walmart it again this Sat. We get more donations at Walmart since more people are shopping there and they are not in a hurry or hungry as people shopping at Albertson and Stater Brothers.

So far we pretty much filled up the food banks for Thanksgiving and hopefully we can do the same for Christmas. We thought of doing Turkey but we did not want to do it because of the liability and logistic issues. Turkey has to be kept cold, frozen or not.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

How To Survive The Housing Slump.

An article on this week's Newsweek:

Five Ways to Survive the Housing Slump
Expert advice for would-be sellers and buyers.

By Daniel McGinn | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Nov 6, 2007 | Updated: 2:12 p.m. ET Nov 6, 2007

The National Association of Realtors has just launched a new ad campaign touting why buying a house "is a decision you shouldn't postpone any longer" and reminding buyers that "the value of a home nearly doubles every 10 years." But real-estate agents' forecasts have a history of being ridiculously optimistic. At the other extreme, housing bears like John Talbott say homeowners' current woes have only just begun. Here's his advice for would-be buyers and sellers right now:

What was your house worth in 1997?
When John Talbott figures how far prices have to fall, he figures they'll return to 1997 levels, since that was the year in which many of the aggressive lending practices—like interest-only mortgages—really began to take off.

Take a hard look at your mortgage.
"There are very few good deals left in the world for consumers, and fixed-rate, 30-year housing debt is one of them," Talbott says, particularly if homeowners set aside money to pay it off faster than the lender requires.

Follow the bailout talk.
Talbott says most people with adjustable-rate mortgages would be better off with a fixed-rate mortgage, but that makes two assumptions: that they can afford the larger payment on a fixed-rate loan, and they believe the government isn't going to offer some sort of bailout plan for borrowers who've gotten in over their heads with mortgage debt. People in mortgage trouble who are thinking about refinancing would be wise to watch headlines about bailout proposals, he says.

Think about home renovations as an expense, not an investment.
During the boom many homeowners came to believe the money they spent on a new kitchen or bath constituted savings, since improvements would only add fuel to their home's soaring value. The bust should help people understand that every dollar homeowners spend on a renovation rarely pays back $1 when they sell the house, Talbott says. Renovations are mostly about comfort and status, not about improving home values, he says.

It may still pay to sell now instead of later.
With home values down, some people may be inclined to hold off listing a home in the hope of a quick recovery. But if Talbott is correct, home prices have only begun to fall, and someone who can sell his home for 5 or 10 percent less than what he thought it was worth during the boom would do very well.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Home Value.

As I posted on my web site, homes and land are long term investment and it is still a safe investment with minimum risk. I also stated that my Real Estate investments so far have fair much better than my stock portfolios.

Here is a excerpt from my web site:


In today changing Real Estate market, it is important to remember that Real Estate is still a good long term investment.

It is an investment that the investor is practically utilizing other people's money to acquire appreciating assets on which the profits can be realized at 100% tax free. The risks in Real Estate investing can be offseted by the potential of long term gain. As investor and home owner, your monthly rent payment is now convert to a monthly mortgage payment which accumulate values over the years.

As an example, if an investor put a $15,000 down payment in a condo and lived in it for 5-6 years, she definitely made a good investment. Many of the owners of a condo in Murrieta bought it for around $89,500 in 2001 and if they just resold in 2007 for $290,000. This is overall translated to about $200,000 appreciation (profit tax free). Yes, the investors probably could have gotten $310,000 for the condo earlier this year but then he/she would have to pay higher prices for another property that

he/she wants to purchase to replace the condo.

I have been buying and selling Real Estate for the last 36+ years. When I bought my first home in Santa Clara for $70000 in 1975, it sold for about 10 times+ it's original price. This is not a guarantee or a result to be expected by everyone but there are similar results in the real estate appreciation in California in the past 30+ years.

According to the California Association of Realtors and The National Association Of Home Builders. Housing is still a safe long-term investment.

Despite declining home prices as recently reflected in an S&P/Case-Shiller home price statistics survey, on average, the nation's top markets have experienced price appreciation by as much as 50 percent over the past five years, according to comparable data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"It's important to keep things in perspective," said NAHB President Brian Catalde. "The current housing price correction is most pronounced in the once super-heated markets in California, Nevada, Florida and Arizona. In most other markets, price declines have been pretty modest."

According to the NAHB's comparable data tables, home prices in Los Angeles dipped 5.7 percent in the last year, but have appreciated by 88.9 percent since 2002. San Francisco home prices have declined 4.2 percent in the last year, but have seen appreciation of 46.7 percent since 2002. Home prices in San Diego have fallen by 8.3 percent in the last year, but have appreciated 54 percent since 2002, according to the report.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Real Estate News For The Week

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.26 percent for the week ending Nov. 1, its lowest point since May, compared with 6.33 percent a week earlier, and 6.31 for the same period a year ago. The five-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.98 percent for the week, down from the previous week from 6.03 percent, and 6.05 for the same period a year ago.

"Continued market concerns about weaker economic growth and further declines in the housing market have kept mortgage rates low over the last few weeks," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.

More info

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) have released a working roadmap of policies supporting the use of historic preservation as a tool for creating more affordable housing.

During a symposium held this week, HUD and the ACHP, backed by a panel of national experts on affordable housing and historic preservation, unveiled a working set of policies the agencies say carry the potential to help pave the way for more affordable housing in urban neighborhoods.

"Historic preservation and affordable housing are not two separate worlds," said HUD Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi. "Historic preservation can be a powerful tool to fuel the preservation of affordable housing too."

More info

Mortgage loan activity for the week ending Oct. 31 was up 3.8 percent, according to the latest survey by The Mortgage Bankers Association. On an unadjusted basis, the index was up 19.5 percent compared with the same week one year earlier. The refinance index also increased 9.2 percent to 2249.0 from 2059.3 the previous week.

More info

Friday, November 2, 2007

Top 5 Markets Where Home Prices are Rising

Top 5 Markets Where Home Prices are Rising
Home prices have risen in five major markets, while continuing to fall in the rest of the country, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for August, released Tuesday.

The largest price declines are in rust belt cities, although Tampa came out as the big loser as speculators abandoned properties.

“The fall in home prices is showing no real signs of a slowdown or turnaround," says Robert J. Shiller, co-creator of the index and chief economist for MacroMarkets LLC.

The Case-Shiller indexes track multiple sales of the same homes in an attempt to screen out price differences caused by shifts in the size and type of houses being sold. Some housing economists consider these indexes the best gauge of national and metro real-estate values.

Here are the changes in the August price level from a year earlier for single-family homes.

5 Cities Where Prices Rose

1. Seattle: 5.7
2. Charlotte: 5.6
3. Portland: 2.8
4. Atlanta: 0.8
5. Dallas: 0.5

15 Cities Where Prices Fell

1. Tampa: -10.1
2. Detroit: -9.3
3. San Diego: -8.3
4. Phoenix: -8.0
5. Miami: -7.8
6. Las Vegas: -7.6
7. Washington, D.C.: -7.2
8. Los Angeles: -5.7
9. San Francisco: -4.2
10. Cleveland: -4.1
11. Minneapolis: -4.0
12. New York: -3.8
13. Boston: -3.6
14. Chicago: -1.3
15. Denver: -0.4

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Rex Nutting, and S&P Case-Shiller Index (10/31/07)

Fed Cuts Rate a Quarter Point, Banks Respond

Fed Cuts Rate a Quarter Point, Banks Respond
The Federal Reserve cut the federal funds rate by one-quarter percentage point to 4.5 percent Wednesday.

In response, commercial banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and KeyCorp., announced that they were cutting their prime lending rate — for certain credit cards, home equity lines of credit, and other loans — by a corresponding amount, to 7.5 percent.

The decline in these rates generally also pushes down first mortgage and refinance rates.

The Fed policymakers supporting Wednesday's rate cut said the action was needed to "forestall some of the adverse effects on the broader economy" that might arise from the housing and credit troubles that have wreaked havoc on Wall Street over the past few months.

But Fed policymakers said the current and the previous rate cut in September should be enough to “roughly balance” the risk to the economy from inflation.

Most economists are taking that statement to mean that the Fed probably will leave the funds rate alone when it next meets on Dec. 11, the last session of the year.

Source: The Associated Press, Jeannine Aversa (11/31/07)