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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR ...

Being a Christian, I love the Christmas season.  It brings hope and laughter and love, even in economic recessions.  It reminds us to be kind, faithful, patient.  After all, Jesus is the reason for the season! 
We think about our neighbors more during the Christmas season.  We reflect on their choice of decorations (indoor and outdoor.)  We listen more intently to their declarations (in church and out .)  We have expectations of their kindness and consideration.  We are reminded of bible verses and hymns. Unfortunately, we are also sometimes reminded of the old addage, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."  This, my friends, is a "high profile" season.  Whether you're a shopkeeper, neighbor, relative, teacher, fellow student, employee, sports fan, politico or zealot of one sort or another, this season shines a light on you in so many, many ways. 


I recently wrote about my experience with a local business owner in my Facebook...how I felt wronged by his less than stellar business policy and questionable ethics...how I felt cheated by his treatment, not just financially but emotionally as well.  I pledged a vendetta of negative marketing as my revenge.  I had all the tools at my disposal.  I devised a plan to bring him to justice.  Then I realized how much energy it takes to wage such a war or to even envision it.  I began to rethink my plan.  How much better might it be to try to help people avoid being ripped off by simply educating them about the problem.  How short lived my vendetta would have been versus how long lasting and far reaching my informational tips could be.  I reflected on various ways to help others avoid being ripped off both during the Holiday Season and throughout the year instead. I relected on a quote by Isaac Bashevis Singer...

Life is God's Novel, Let him write it! 

In that decision was my clarity.  How we move forward in life is a statement of who we are and how we love.  In checking our own perspective, we can influence others as well.  As the cat in the photo teaches us, there's a lot more going on than we'll ever really understand individually.  With the help of our friends and neighbors and relatives and yes, even those who disparage us or rip us off, comes life's lessons to be learned and shared for their worth and value - as opposed to their pain and suffering.  In this season, as in all seasons, We Are Not Alone.  

God Bless Us Everyone and
 Merry Christmas!!

Oh, and by the way, if you want my recommendations for businesses and service people in the South Bay, please visit my Online Business Directory

and I'm NEVER too busy for your referrals!

Wish you a safe and joyous Holiday
 and a Prosperous and Engaging 2010!


Monday, November 9, 2009

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended Into 2010!


Plus...A New Tax Credit for Certain Existing Home Owners!

It's official. President Obama has signed a bill that extends the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs) into the first half of 2010. This program had been scheduled to expire on November 30, 2009.

In addition to extending the tax credit of up to $8,000 through June 30, 2010, the extension measure also opens up opportunities for others who are not buying a home for the first time.

So Who Gets What?

The program that has existed for FTHBs remains intact with the one exception that more people are now eligible based on an increase in the amount of income someone may now earn.

Additionally, the program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.

Deadlines

In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010.


Higher Income Caps in Effect

The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has also been increased. Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible.

Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

Maximum Purchase Price

Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sales price of $800,000.


Frequently Asked Questions...

What is a tax credit?

A tax credit is a direct reduction in tax liability owed by an individual to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In the event no taxes are owed, the IRS will issue a check for the amount of the tax credit an individual is owed. Unlike the tax credit that existed in 2008, this credit does not require repayment unless the home, at any time in the first 36 months of ownership, is no longer an individual's primary residence.

What is the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs)?

An eligible homebuyer may request from the IRS a tax credit of up to $8,000 or 10% of the purchase price for a home. If the amount of the home purchased is $75,000, the maximum amount the credit can be is $7,500. If the amount of the home is $100,000, the amount of the credit may not exceed $8,000.

Who is eligible for the FTHB tax credit?

Anyone who has not owned a primary residence in the previous 36 months, prior to closing and the transfer of title, is eligible. This applies both to single taxpayers and married couples. In the case where there is a married couple, if either spouse has owned a primary residence in the last 36 months, neither would qualify. In the case where an individual has owned property that has not been a primary residence, such as a second home or investment property, that individual would be eligible.

How do I claim the credit?

For those taking advantage of the tax credit in 2009, you may choose to either apply for the credit with your 2009 tax return or you may apply for the credit sooner by filing an amended 2008 tax return with Form 5405 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5405.pdf

Can I claim the tax credit in advance of purchasing a property?

No. The IRS has recently begun prosecuting people who have claimed credits where a purchase had not taken place.

 
Can a taxpayer claim a credit if the property is purchased from a seller with seller financing and the seller retains title to the property?

Yes. In situations where the buyer purchases the property, even though the seller retains legal title, the taxpayer may file for the credit. Examples of this would include a land contract, contract for deed, etc. According to the IRS, factors that would demonstrate the ownership of the property would include: 1. the right of possession, 2. the right to obtain legal title upon full payment of the purchase price, 3. the right to construct improvements, 4. the obligation to pay property taxes, 5. the risk of loss, 6. the responsibility to insure the property and 7. the duty to maintain the property.

Are there other restrictions to taking the credit?

Yes. According to the IRS, if any of the following describe your situation, a credit would not be due.

You buy your home from a close relative. This includes your spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild.

You do not use the home as your principal residence.

You sell your home before the end of the year.

You are a nonresident alien.

You owned a principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase of your new home. For example, if you bought a home on July 1, 2009, you cannot take the credit for that home if you owned, or had an ownership interest in, another principal residence at any time from July 2, 2006, through July 1, 2009.

Can you buy a home from a step-relative and be eligible for the credit?

Yes. Provided the person you are buying a home from is not a direct blood relative, the purchase would be allowed.

Can parent(s) who will not live in the property cosign for a mortgage for their child and the child that is a qualifying FTHB still be eligible for the credit?

Yes.

Can a separated spouse who has not owned a home for four years qualify for the FTHB tax credit if the spouse has owned a property anytime in the last three years?

No. However, the spouse may be eligible for the repeat buyer credit. The best path to take in any situation regarding income taxes is to speak with a professional tax preparer or CPA.

If you have any additional questions about the First Time Home Buyers Credit or any other real estate related questions please call me anytime.  If your question needs to be answered by a CPA or tax preparer and you do not currently have one, I'll be glad t refer to you in my network. 

And of course, I am NEVER too busy for your business or referrals.  Please let me know how I may be of service to you with any of your South Bay or Southern California Real Estate Needs.  I also have a great network of brokers outside our area ready to handle your business as well. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

California Association of Realtors 2010 Market Forecast



Here's a summary of the 2009-2010 Market Analysis and Forecast by the California Association of Realtors Chief Economist Leslie Appleton Young.  I have the 100 page document in PDF for all areas of California.  If you would like information for any particular area or market, let me know and I'll send it to you. 



By Leslie Appleton Young

The median home price in California will rise 3.3 percent to $280,000 in 2010 compared with a projected median of $271,000 this year, according to C.A.R.’s "2010 California Housing Market Forecast," presented today at CALIFORNIA REALTOR® EXPO 2009 in San Jose. Sales for 2010 are projected to decrease 2.3 percent to 527,500 units, compared with 540,000 units (projected) in 2009.


“California’s housing market continued its strong sales rebound this year, resulting from the continued pace of distressed properties coming to market,” said C.A.R. President James Liptak. “This follows two years of double-digit sales declines in 2006 and 2007. Looking ahead, we expect sales to moderate to a more sustainable pace.”


“After experiencing its sharpest decline in history, we expect the median price to rise modestly next year,” Liptak added. “2010 will mark the beginning of the ‘new normal’ for California’s housing market. This ‘new normal’ likely will feature a steady stream of sales driven by distressed properties in the low end of the market, coupled with moderate home-price appreciation.”


“With distressed properties accounting for nearly one-third of the sales in 2010, inventory will be relatively lean, under six months during the off-season months, and a roughly four-month supply during the peak season,” said C.A.R. and Vice President Leslie Appleton-Young. “We expect the median price to decrease slightly through the remainder of 2009 and into next year, then rise before leveling off next summer. For the year as a whole, home prices are forecast to reach $280,000. The wild cards for 2010 include foreclosures, loan resets, the labor market, and the California budget crisis, as well as the actions of the federal government.”

(The photo at the top is for my new listing at 12 Avenida De Camelia in Rancho Palos Verdes.  You can view all the additional pics and information at http://www.12avenidadecamelia.com/ or call me for your private preview today!) 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Firestorms 2009 Legal Issues from C.A.R.

The following information is brought to you courtesy of

The California Association of Realtors.



Many of us have experienced a loss this season or have friends or loved ones who have been impacted by the firestorms. I hope this information will be helpful in answering some questions regarding real estate transactions and the impact of the Firestorms on real estate contracts and personal obligations. This is not intended as legal advice or tax advice.


The seasonal firestorms we experience in California raise several legal questions for REALTORS® and their clients. The following questions and answers may be helpful for property owners and residents who have suffered a loss, or for buyers who are in escrow to purchase property involved in the disaster.

Q 1. What are the general rules concerning who bears the risk of loss in a real estate transaction where an "Act of God" or other disaster, such as fire, affects the property?
A If the purchase contract between the parties does not specify who is to bear the risk of damage or loss to the premises during the time between the execution of the contract and the transfer of title, the liability of the parties is governed by the California Uniform Vendor and Purchaser Risk Act (Cal. Civ. Code § 1662). Under the provisions of this statute (assuming no fault on the part of the buyer), the risk of loss or damage to the premises is carried by the seller until the buyer receives either title or possession. If all or a material part of the premises are damaged before title or possession is given to the buyer, the buyer can cancel the contract and recover any portion of the purchase price paid. It is not clear whetherthe buyer can alternatively elect to enforce the contract with a reduction in the purchase price equal to the loss of value or cost of repair. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1662.) After the buyer has taken possession or has received title,the buyer bears the risk of loss or damage to the premises (assuming no fault on the part of the seller). Therefore, if the premises are damaged, the buyer must still complete the contract and pay the balance of the purchase price. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1662.) If the purchase contract does contain a risk of loss provision, that provision will govern to the extent it is different from or more specific than the Uniform Vendor and Purchaser Risk Act (Uniform Act) (Cal. Civ. Code § 1662).
Q 2. May a buyer get out of a purchase contract under the Uniform Act if the damage or loss caused by fires to the property is minor?
A Probably not. The Uniform Act implies that the seller may still enforce the contract if the damage is not material. However, a purchase agreement may require the seller to repair such damage. For example, Paragraph 7A of C.A.R.'s Residential Purchase Agreement requires the property to be maintained in substantially the same condition it was in on the date of acceptance. Under this language, a seller could be obligated to repair fire-related damage to his or her property.
Q 3. May a buyer get out of a purchase contract under the Uniform Act if the damage or loss caused by fires to the property is major?
A Yes. To repeat, if (1) neither legal title nor possession has transferred from the seller to the buyer, and all or a material part of the real property is destroyed by fire, and (2) no express contract provision to the contrary exists, then, under the Uniform Act the seller cannot enforce the purchase contract and the buyer may cancel and recover any portion of the purchase price already paid. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1662.)
Q 4. If the damage is not severe, does the timing of the fires (whether they occur before or after an inspection) affect the right to cancel?
A Yes. If the damage occurs before the buyer has removed an inspection contingency in his or her purchase contract, the buyer can, of course, exercise any inspection, disapproval, and cancellation rights provided by the contract.
If the damage occurs after the buyer has removed his or her inspection contingency, the buyer generally does not have an automatic right to reinspect the property and approve or disapprove of its condition under most purchase contracts (including C.A.R.'s Residential Purchase Agreement). However, the seller may be obligated to repair the property. A purchase agreement may, however, require a seller to disclose fire-related information, which in turn may give a buyer a right to cancel a transaction, even if he or she has already removed contingencies. For example, Paragraphs 5A(3) and (4) of C.A.R.'s Residential Purchase Agreement provide that if,prior to the close of escrow, the seller becomes aware of adverse conditions materially affecting the property, the seller must provide a subsequent or amended disclosure or notice, which then gives the buyer a right to cancel the agreement.
Q 5. Must a seller disclose major fire damage that has not been repaired when attempting to sell the property?
A Yes. For sales of residential one-to-four unit properties, the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS), Section II (Seller's Information), paragraph C.9, asks:
"C. Are you (Seller) aware of any of the following: . . . 9. Major damage to the property or any of the structures from fire, earthquake, floods, or landslides.______ Yes ______ No." (Cal. Civ. Code § 1102.6 (emphasis added).)
In addition, for both residential one-to-four unit and other properties, the seller is required to inform a buyer whether the property is located in a "very high fire hazard severity zone" (which has certain maintenance requirements) or a "state responsibility area" (which may contain substantial forest fire risks and for which the state has primary financial responsibility for fire prevention and suppression). (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1103.2 et seq.) The disclosure of these and other natural hazard zones is discussed more fully in C.A.R.'s legal article, Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement.
For all types of property, the general requirement of disclosing known material facts affecting the value or desirability of property applies.
Q 6. Must a seller disclose the fact of a fire when there was no major damage to the property?
A Yes, if it is a material fact affecting the value or desirability of the property to the buyer. Even though the property may not have suffered major fire damage, the seller may be aware of other factsrelated to the fire that the buyer might not be aware of. Of course, a buyer must also exercise reasonable care to protect himself or herself in a real estate transaction, and is not excused from discovering problems that are within his or her diligent attention and observation.
Q 7. Must a seller disclose the fact of a fire when there was major damage to the property but it has been repaired?
A California law does not clearly answer whether a seller must disclose past property defects and repairs. At the present time, the law does not appear to require disclosure of past defects and repairs unless the problems may be persistent. In other words, a defect which has been fully repaired and no longer threatens the value or desirability of the property probably need not be disclosed. On the other hand, defects which are difficult to remedy and which may continue to plague the property may have to be disclosed. Given some uncertainty in this area of the law, many sellers may prefer to resolve doubts infavor of disclosure to minimize the risk.


Q 8. What are the tax effects of destruction of a property?
A Federal income tax law provides for the deduction of "casualty losses," which include destruction of property by "Acts of God" including fire, theft, and certain other types of losses. (See 26 U.S.C. §165.)
The following is a brief summary of the rules:
(1) For business property, the casualty loss is fully deductible. (26 U.S.C. §165(a).)
(2) For non-business property of individuals, losses from "casualties," including floods, earthquake, fire, storm, or other natural occurrences, are generally deductible only to the extent that the total of such losses exceeds 10 percent of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income for the year of loss. Any loss is deductibleonly by a taxpayer who itemizes deductions. Each loss is subject to a $100 floor. The amount of a casualty loss is the lesser of, (a) the difference between the value of the property immediately before and after the loss, or (b) the adjusted basis of the property immediately before the loss. (26 U.S.C. §165(c)(3) and (h).)
(3) If the loss results from a disaster that the President determines to be eligible for federal assistance, the taxpayer has the choice of deducting the disaster losses on his or her return either, (a) for the year in which the loss occurred, or (b) for the preceding tax year. (26 U.S.C. §165(i).)
See the Internal Revenue Service's website for more information. For a copy of the IRC code, go to U.S. Code Online and enter 26 for the title and 165 for the section and click on search.
Please contact an accountant or tax attorney for further details about the tax effects of fire losses on a particular transaction.
Q 9. Can a landlord or tenant terminate a lease or a rental agreement if all or parts of the premises are destroyed by fire?
A Yes. Under California Civil Code Section 1933(4), the agreement is terminated automatically if the entire premises are destroyed, unless the parties have agreed to something different. In the event the premises are only partially destroyed, the tenant can terminate the lease by notice to the landlord if the landlord had reason to believe at commencement of the lease or rental agreement that the portion destroyed was a "material inducement" to the tenant to enter into the lease (Cal. Civ. Code §1932(2)).Again, any contrary agreement between the parties will govern.
Q 10. Can a landlord collect further rent after the lease or rental agreement is terminated due to destruction of the premises?
A No. The obligation to pay future rent is extinguished when the rental agreement is terminated. However, a tenant may still owe back rent.



The information contained herein is believed accurate as of September 2, 2009. It is intended to provide general answers to general questions and is not intended as a substitute for individual legal advice. Advice in specific situations may differ depending upon a wide variety of factors. Therefore, readers with specific legal questions should seek the advice of an attorney.



Please call me with any questions ... if I don't have the answers, I'll get them for you! Let us know how we may be of service!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

IT'S RAINING INSIDE MY MASTER BATH!


The weather has finally begun to show signs of summer. June gloom is edging away and the sunny Southern California sun has finally begun her tour across the South Bay. The air in the mornings is crisp and clean. As I walk with my dogs through the tall Pine trees, everything smells fresh and sweet at 6:00 a.m. with temperatures in the low 60's. Lomita Pines Photos

Now it's about Noon ... the sun begins to beat down ... and beat down... and beat down... and temperatures rise and my dogs find shelter on the cool stone floors, begging not to be put outdoors. I begin to remember those hot summer days I used to frolic through when I was 10. Now they create rivulets of sweat coarsing down my back but I digress...It is definately summer. 90 degrees+ Not normal!


Here in the South Bay we enjoy very mild weather patterns. We are actually quite spoiled by the weather. The cool breezes off the ocean or the harbor (depending on which side of the Peninsula your home is attached) keep us quite comfortable. We rarely use air conditioning. We pride ourselves on our conservative use of electricity in the summer.


At 5:00 I did it! I turned on the air conditioning. I just wanted to cool things down a tad before getting prepared for an evening event. Just a few hours of air conditioning usually do the trick. About 7:00 I headed for the master bedroom to get ready to go out. I walked into the master bath and there was a new "water feature" not unlike the one in my patio, but upside down so to speak. Water was not dripping but pouring from the light fixture in my bathroom. My brain went into shock as I tried to figure out what would cause such a thing to happen. The dogs and I watched for a few seconds and then it hit me. It had to be the air conditioner. The furnace is poised right above the bath. I pulled open the attic door and sure enough, water was pouring from the condensation tubing which should have been entering the drain provided for it's collection. I rushed to shut down the air conditioner and gathered up a mop and towels and started cleaning up the new lake in my bathroom.


Since this is the beginning of the summer season for many of you, my story is meant as a reminder. Many of us have not used our air conditioner for six months or more. Many things can occur in that period of time. The drains get clogged, The tubing escapes from the fittings. Mold has formed in the tube or drain. Remember to remind your clients (and friends and husbands or wives) that summertime is a good time for a air conditioning "dust and clean." We change the filters and vacuum the vents but we don't think about the fragile mechanical parts until something like this happens. It's not a bad idea to have the air conditioning people take a peek and make sure you're ready for the season! Flooding does not help to cool the house in the summer ...

By the way, if you need a few recommendations for help around the house, check my Business Referral Directory and let them know that Charlie sent you - they'll take good care of you!




Good luck and God Bless. Let me know if you have any helpful hints for homeowners preparing for the summer season.


Charlie


Team South Bay Realty

Monday, June 8, 2009

JUNE GLOOM IN THE SOUTH BAY


June and everyone is getting ready for beach weather but here at the beach it's June Gloom time. Hard to figure out sometimes why the beach weather is always best around October. I lived on the beach for 15+ years and my toes never touched the water until late August. Hearty souls racing through the surf without wetsuits in June amuse me! Any surfer knows the coast will not be kind for 30+ days.

But I digress...this year the gloom is on the market! Albeit June, but not the same kind of gloom. Just as we begin to dip our toes in the icy waters of real estate this frightful year, hearing hopeful words from our courageous leaders about fabulous first time buyer programs, lowest interest rates in history, markets trending upwards, here come the clouds (or as Judy Collins used to sing..."bring in the clowns.") Of course as the summer season begins to heat up, Bernanke starts to cool down. I find myself screaming at the newsbusters - FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! (Too bad Mervyns closed down, I loved those OpenOpenOpen commercials)
And so, as our fearless leader races around the globe trying to solve world problems and make nice and our governator beseeches us to be flexible with our tax dollars, I ponder...is it my imagination that 70% of the listings are "short sales" and now they are raising the interest rate?
If June Gloom happens in the forest and nobody sees it does it really exist?
As Judy Collins sings ... Isn't it bliss...don't you approve...one who keeps tearing around...one who can't move...where are the clowns?...send in the clowns...don't bother they're here!

Monday, June 1, 2009

$8,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

As the stomach churns and as prices continue to plunge across the US, there are more programs being offered to help stimulate first time buyers into action. The biggest one right now is the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Credit Program.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan on Friday unveiled a policy change to that program that would provide home buyers with quicker access. Buyers would be free to put the funds toward closing costs and a portion of their down payment instead of receiving only a tax credit. The federal government hopes that the measure will stimulate housing demand.


President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan—which was signed into law in mid-February—included a tax credit worth up to $8,000 for qualified first-time home buyers. The $8,000, however, was only being issued as a "tax credit." The new HUD initiative enables borrowers to obtain short-term loans allowing them to tap the tax credit to actually purchase the home. Donovan said in a news release. "What we're doing today will not only help these families to purchase their first home but will present an enormous benefit for communities struggling to handle an oversupply of housing."


The measure only applies to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages and the short-term loans can't be used to pay for the minimum 3.5 percent down payment that FHA loans require. Instead, the loan can be used for closing costs and to finance the portion of the down payment that exceeds the 3.5 percent threshold. The administration opted to have borrowers come up with the initial 3.5 percent themselves to ensure that buyers have an investment in the purchase, which they feel will reduce the likelihood of default.


If you are a first time buyer and are interested in obtaining an FHA loan utilizing the $8,000 credit, call for more information and we will refer you to a qualified FHA Mortgage Broker in your area. This is a special program and must be handled by FHA certified mortgage brokers.


Also available on demand are 2009 Sales Charts for all the South Bay cities. Call or email with your specific city request and we'll send out your up to date FREE, no obligation sales chart for your area (or area in which you are interested in investing.) I will also be posting monthly updates for the South Bay area on my Facebook Page (check Twitter for update notices.)


Stimulate OUR economy - buy local!

By the way, the cute little house at the top is a new Lease Offering @ $2300 per month for those not yet ready to buy - call for more information. It's located in beautiful Lomita Pines!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Did The Earth Move For You?

Monday, May 18, 2009

DID THE EARTH MOVE FOR YOU?

After dinner last night I was typing in my Face Book when something picked up my house and plopped it back down again...


I had a glass of wine on my desk and I watched my glass in amazement as it hopped up and righted itself without losing a drop! One of my dogs, however, was not as confident about the situation as my wine glass seemed to be. She threw open the patio screen and tried to fit all 125 pounds of her quivering fur self into my lap, pushing the other dogs and my keyboard and waste basket clean out of her way.


I've lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years (I believe that makes me a native, doesn't it?) I've survived the Northridge Quake, several Long Beach bursts and a host of assorted mini movers and shakers. Each time the drill is the same...quiet the dogs, carefully look around the house for broken glass and eventually venture outdoors to check for any broken pipes or evidence of foundation shifting, fallen trees or shaken neighbors. Here in the South Bay, we have been very blessed. We sit on a good deal of bedrock and have tested our homes' flexibility enough times to feel fairly safe. Of course, Redondo Beach is within Tsunami reach and Palos Verdes has the Long Beach fault running through it (as well as Lomita, Harbor City, San Pedro and Wilmington.) Needless to say, we still catch our breath when the rumbling starts.


I'm a certified CERT member (Community Emergency Response Team) and was trained in Redondo Beach by some of the best fire fighters in Los Angeles County! We completed some drills that would make Grey's Anatomy (the TV program on Thursday nights) look like Romper Room. We learned how to triage the neighborhood and toe tag the casualties. We learned how to shut off gas service to prevent fires and handle water shut offs before broken pipes turn houses into swimming pools. We learned how to store food and supplies and prepare to help others in assorted states of emergency. We learned how to comply with FEMA rules, give first aid, give CPR, use Cribbing, how to use Fire Extinguishers and to work on a hose line operation.


Of course, non of the above can prepare you emotionally for any actual event but it helps. Those first few crucial moments when your mind snaps into place and fear retreats, come a lot faster with this training. I sincerely suggest that everyone reading my blog consider checking with your local city or county to find a CERT program to prepare you to help yourself, your family, your neighbors and your community in a time of crisis. We know it's coming. We know we must prepare. We should also be conscious that this kind of training may save your life or the lives of your loved ones and all it takes is one night a week for a few weeks. You won't be sorry - you'll be glad you did it.


By the way, they don't train how to catch a Great Pyrenees dog flying at you across a room in emotional distress. Call me and I'll give you some pointers!

Charlene "Charlie" Hoffmann
Team South Bay Realty
Charlie@YourSouthBayTeam.com
310-534-3940 (direct)
310-947-5453 (mobile)
www.TeamSouthBayRealty.com

We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.
-- Aristotle, Greek philosopher (384-322 BC)

Monday, May 11, 2009

What is a Certified Distressed Property Expert?



All markets have a certain percentage of homes or homeowners who are distressed. Distressed could reference the condition of the property, the state of the homeowners finances, the reduced value of a property because of poor market conditions...there are many variations. In a healthy market one can expect about 1 to 3% of properties/homeowners to be "distressed." In some areas today, distressed properties may number as many as 1 in 10.

Here in the South Bay area we are quite fortunate. We are experiencing somewhere in the area of 1 in 75 homeowners facing either some loss of income, property in foreclosure (or currently behind in payments) or mortgages adjusting to sometimes double the original monthly payment. Our values have declined but generally only 25 to 35% (varies from city to city.) This is good news for us geographically. For a homeowner who just lost a job and is facing an increase in his/her mortgage payment because of an adjustable rate mortgage at a time when their value has decreased possibly under their loan balance, the news is not so great. Many times, these homeowners try to work with their lender (loss mitigation departments) to work out a payment plan or rewrite their loans for lower payment amounts (with the owed balance tacked on the back end.) Check Government Site: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov When the lender can't help and the homeowner must sell the home to avoid foreclosure, my expertise as a Certified Distressed Property Expert applies. In working with a "short sale" (loan balance is higher than market value) the first thing a homeowner must do is put their property on the market. Homeowners must choose a Realtor who has the specific training to work with the lender and help them through this process in the most efficient and painless way possible. Call me for a free confidential consultation to help determine whether you, a friend or a loved one may be a candidate for a "short sale."

In my next few blogs, I will be going through some additional information to help distressed property owners. In the meantime, I will be putting together a new website http://www.TeamSouthBayShortSales.com and will be posting information on the website to answer some of your questions, especially the biggest question regarding FORECLOSURE vs. SHORT SALE.

Call anytime for no obligation information: 310-534-3940

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Mark Twain and his good friend the writer, William Howells were leaving church on Sunday when it began to rain heavily. Howells looked up at the clouds and said, “Do you think it will stop?” “It always has,” replied Twain…

I started working in the real estate business in 1979. Interest rates were 17%. Banks were not lending. In order to sell homes, we were “wrapping” loans, doing AITD’s and using many other methods, which by today’s standards would probably result in a quick indictment at best in some cases. People were losing their homes then too, but we survived.

In the early 90’s we experienced a similar climate. The economy (especially in my area) was challenged by many factors. We lost our aerospace economic foundation in the South Bay. California lost many profitable manufacturing businesses to other states. Again, some of our families lost their homes, their jobs, their dignity but we survived.

In comparison, more than 1000 banks closed in 1930 – only 14 U.S. banks were taken over in 2008. There are 76 million households in the U.S. that own their home - 24 million of these homes are FREE AND CLEAR! There are 52 million homes with mortgages - 97.2% of these are NOT in foreclosure, 93.8% of these homes are CURRENT on their payments.

I see the clouds in the sky too but I also see that clouds cannot remain constant, by their very nature. Time passes, things chance and as the philosopher Heraclitus said “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.” Enjoy this time of abundance for many and growth and change for us all. Make the most of the positive aspects of today’s economy. It’s never as bleak as the media portrays. Remember, bad news sells, good news revives and this too shall pass.

Call for help if you have a loan challenge. As a Certified Distressed Property Expert, I can help you in saving your home or help you in purchasing one of todays abundant REO’s or “short sales.” As my friend Sam always tells me “It’s all good, Charlie, it’s all good.” The rain always stops!

Friday, March 27, 2009

545 PEOPLE...


This article was written by Charlie Reese.


Charlie Reese has been a journalist for 49 years.


Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them. Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits? Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes? You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does. You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does. One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country. I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash.The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party. What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi. She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist. If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red .If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.There are no insoluble government problems.Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do. Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power.They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees. We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!
Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.
What you do with this article now that you have read it... Is up to YOU!


Thank You Charlie Reese!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

LET'S MAKE LEMONADE!



Something of a mystery to many right now is how to maneuver in today's real estate market to avoid the pitfalls in Short Pays and REO's. Having been in this business for going on 30 years, I've seen the bottoms fall out before. We know that no business can continue in one direction forever.

That said, what happens next in this climate? Do you reinvent your portfolio? Do you change your career? Do you give up on home ownership? NO TO ALL THREE. I don't like to use the term "change" as I am not on that Band Wagon. Instead, I am a conservative Republican ... there I said it! I am not opposed to capitalism. I believe we should all be responsible for what we create - positive or negative. I don't believe the government should bail us out of our own mistakes. Along those lines, it's time to take stock of who you are and what you are willing to do to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and make some "lemonade." If you have some savings and are willing to invest, REO's today are an excellent choice. Interest rates are at an all time low. Banks are now prepared to finance again. This is going to sound like a Dennis Miller rant but everyone should stop whining and start focusing. There are too many opportunities being overlooked right now. Instead we are listening to the media use soundbites to direct us to others' agendas. Let's start taking care of ourselves. Let's use the word POSSIBILITY again in the right context. Let's move forward America - the only real "bail out" we need is the removal of the wax from our ears and the glue from our feet. MOVE FORWARD now. Use these opportunities to create your possiblities - YOUR CHANGE! Be in charge and prosper. If you need help, call me. I'll push you in the right direction!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE! Charlie's 2008 Client Appreciation Party









The year 2008 ended with a house full of gratitude! My Annual Client Appreciation Party was so much fun. My heart was full to see all my wonderful clients enjoying themselves and chatting with neighbors and friends they had yet to meet. We had a great Pasta Bar (let me know if you need some recipes for your next party) and tons of baked goods and refreshments. Our star of the day was Michael Garisek, a renowned Caricature Artist. Everyone hooted and hollered when they saw Michael's renditions of the kids and parents based on his investigation of their hobbies, sports interests and spontaneous bursts of laughter and information about each other. Michael was our entertainment last year and was such a hit we invited him back again for the people who missed last year's celebration. We were sure happy to have him.

I want to thank everyone for making 2008 a GREAT year for me and Team South Bay. We appreciate you and are very grateful for your business, your friendship and your referrals. We are looking forward to a FINE 2009, so please let us know how we may be of service for any of your real estate needs! Also, don't forget to check our Business Referral Directory for local shops and trades. We all love to work by referral and are accountable to each other to make sure you, our customers and clients are always happy with the results!

Happy New Year and God Bless!