I met some amazing people today while out in Shadow Oaks, and I wanted to share their story with you.
I knocked a door that was opened by a small, kindly man, who listened to my sales pitch, and then told me, "I have to give you a cake. I bake friendship cakes for all my friends." He invited me in, and while wrapping up a cake for me to take, he began to tell me a story of his youth, culminating in a flight on a B-25 over the Arizona desert when he was a twelve year old boy. He then told me about life as a foster parent to over 127 children who had spent time in his and his wife's care over their 64 years together. They showed me newspaper clippings of their story as once captured in a newspaper years ago. I had to know what would prompt such dedication to help so many young lives, so I asked why.
The wife told me who she was born in Paris, France, and when she was six, the world was thrown into war. As the Germans began to bomb Paris, children were evacuated by trains in the dark, scattering them out of the countryside. They were loaded into trucks and distributed into villages in groups of 15. She spent the next two years living in a house located next to a Gestapo headquarters. In the basement the family hid downed Allied pilots to smuggle back to Allied positions, and she was taught never to speak, for fear of attracting the attention of their frightful neighbors. When the war ended, the children were returned to Paris. Only 3 of those fifteen children in her village had parents to return to, and she returned to find only her mother. Her mother soon after married an American serviceman and they moved to California where she grew up dreaming of becoming a nun. She fell in love with a boy instead as sometimes happens to aspiring clergy, but she always knew that her destiny was to help children who had no one else.
Now in their 80's, their child rearing days are long behind them, but she still knits gifts for orphans and great-grandchildren that are part of their legacy.
When it was time for me to leave, she gave me two teddy bears for my daughters. They were wrapped in hand knit blankets, and tucked into hand knit drawstring bags. She mentioned how a great-grandchild who visited recently used the bag as a hat.
When I got home, I gave the bags to my daughters, and found that wearing them as a hat is quite the latest in toddler fashion. As my accompanying picture illustrates. Running into two people who lived through some of the worst the world can dish out, and living with such incredible generosity and kindness was truly a gift from the universe for me today. And so I wanted to share it with you.
Happy 2017! We hope you had a memorable holiday season and festive New Year. January is finally here and we are back to reality - and real estate! 2016 has come to a close, and for us it was one of our busiest years ever. Record sales were accompanied by charitable endeavors and meaningful community partnerships. To start off the year, let’s take a look back at the local market’s performance and project what may be in the works for real estate in the Conejo Valley area.
The local real estate market in 2016 chugged along at a good pace. Prices continued to rise, posting a gain of roughly 3% for the year across the price spectrum. Sales volume was down about 2% from the year before, largely due to a decrease in inventory in the area. We are currently seeing roughly two months’ worth of property available, a trend that is likely to continue. High demand continues to be the strongest variable shaping the real estate market in our local area. If you are looking for the best time to buy or sell, that time is now. Of course, if you are looking for a team with the experience and discipline to get you what you want, in the time you want, call us today.
The new year brings both opportunities and challenges for people looking to sell properties in 2017. Sellers find themselves with the boon of being in a low inventory environment, and prices approaching historic highs. That optimism is tempered by the knowledge that the market will be contending with how mortgage interest rates respond to a shift in policy by the Federal Reserve for the first time in over a decade. Many buyers are likely to find themselves motivated to action after seeing the end of year jump in rates, and knowing that the best value on a loan could be now.
The Buss Lampert McKinley Group finished this December with five closings, bringing the team tally to 46 transactions for the year with $25 million in volume. You may have noticed from our Facebook posts that we have some big news to announce - We are adding a new member to the team, Danny Lampert! With the addition of Danny, we are looking forward to being able to continue to provide outstanding service to our growing clientele.
Thank you for making us your real estate professionals of choice and for your continued support in 2017. Here’s to a healthy and prosperous new year!
With the holidays upon us, we're reminded of those who've helped us along in our lives and profession. We don’t get
enough opportunity to personally say thank you even though we're grateful every day. We'd like to express our deepest
appreciation for placing your confidence in us, and supporting our practice with your friendship and referrals.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season. May the joy of the festivities extend to you and yours throughout the coming year!
If you’re just beginning your foray into real estate - maybe thinking about relocating to a new city, or potentially selling your current home - perhaps you’ve browsed a national real estate website, such as Zillow or Trulia. You can quickly get a general picture of what’s available by using these sites and begin to get a feel for the real estate market in that area. The Buss McKinley Group utilizes these national sites when listing our customers’ properties, as we’re aware of the window shopping benefits of having homes on these sites in addition to listing them on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). If you’re serious about your real estate transaction, however, national sites can lead to needless frustration for both buyers and sellers.
Inaccurate Information Wastes Buyers' Time
Oftentimes, a client will browse Zillow or another similar site to search available properties in lieu of using the MLS. To be fair, these websites are beautifully designed, and offer multiple links to what appear to be available properties. The problem, however, is that these websites are oftentimes inaccurate. Properties statuses can be outdated, showing as available when they are not. I have had multiple clients email me a list of addresses of properties they found online and were interested in, not even one of which was for sale. Also, some sites have a feature that attempts to anticipate future foreclosures, and shows those to buyers as potentially available. On top of being embarrassing for the current owners of the property when true, this information can be wildly inaccurate. Additionally, listings pop up as suggestions for you, but unfortunately, it's NOT because they’re within the parameters you’ve set. Oftentimes these are paid ads that the site is steering toward buyers who are looking for something entirely different. It’s likely that you don’t want to waste precious time searching for homes that aren’t in your budget, are in the wrong area, etc. And about the area? These national sites can't tell you much about a city or neighborhood.
Specialized Searches Save Time and Reduce Frustration
When a buyer works with us as their realtor, we set you up on a search using the MLS. This site has the most updated information available on all the properties currently for sale. We set up a personalized search for you on the MLS, which is drastically more accurate than the national sites. On the MLS, realtors are required to update their listings, and no detail about an available property is spared. Additionally, the MLS is ad-free. There are no pop-up ads or requests to give away your email address to yet another website. When you call us asking about a house you saw on the MLS search we set you up with, you can be assured that the home is still on the market, and the description and features that describe the property are accurate.
"Zestimates" Mislead Sellers
Sellers can run into pitfalls with national real estate sites as well. Namely, a tool known as Zestimate has led to frustration with homeowners who’ve been led to believe their property is far more or far less than what it is likely to sell for. Zestimates are estimates, as the name suggests, using an algorithm that includes exactly zero input about the condition of a property. It uses comparable sales from preset radius around the location and adjusts for square footage and lot size. If you are in any area where there is low turnover, or if there are a variety of ages of homes, or if multiple builders shared in the development in your part of town, it is likely your Zestimate is not accurate. If you’re truly interested in what your home’s value may be, we can provide you with a free market analysis. It includes accurate, up-to-date information about recent home sales in your neighborhood, and a like for like comparison method.
Realtors Provide Accurate Market Information
Whether you’re buying or selling, your best bet for accurate information is to contact a licensed realtor. At the Buss McKinley Group we’re happy to discuss the local real estate market with you, even if you’re still in the “window shopping” stage. Give us a call at (805) 328-3799 and let our expertise help you with your real estate needs.
Written By Nelson Buss
You’ve probably seen lawn signs and TV ads promoting Ventura County Measures C and F. Both measures are subject to contentious debate between open space advocates and local farmers, and these measures could have an impact on local property values as well. Several people have asked me recently about how the election will impact the real estate market going forward. My standard response is, barring extraordinary global events, the Conejo Valley and greater Ventura County real estate market is most strongly impacted by very specific, local pressures. On the ballot this year are a set of countywide measures, Measures C and F, that are going to dictate growth and development in the county for least the next decade, possibly as far into the future as 2050. I want to provide a summary of the two countywide measures and what their likely effect will be on local real estate.
The first is Measure C, which is backed by SOAR. Soar got its start in Ventura back in 1995, when that city passed an initiative to force all zoning changes within city limits to a popular vote. It was modeled on an earlier Napa Valley law that had withstood a Supreme Court challenge. After Ventura, all the local municipalities and unincorporated areas have since adopted similar provisions. Most of these provisions are set to expire in 2020. Measure C seeks to extend these provisions until the year 2050. The most obvious impact of this measure is that it preserves the semi-rural character of the county, which stands in sharp contrast to Los Angeles and Orange Counties. There are currently over 100,000 acres of agricultural land in production in Ventura County.
The other measure on the ballot is Measure F, which is backed primarily by the owners of local farms. This measure has a timeline of 20 years, through 2036. It also has a provision requiring a public vote for zoning changes, but also includes a few provisions that local farmers claim is essential to ensure their survival over the coming decades. It calls for water infrastructure support for the agricultural land currently in use, and looks to set aside 225 acres of current agricultural land to be converted to processing facilities. Measure F also provides for consideration of land that currently is adjacent to local schools to be converted to a different zoning through the county. Up to 300 acres could potentially be impacted.
Both measures are strict on the allowances that they give private landowners regarding their property. One allows for no variance from current policy, while the other loosens some restrictions and benefits the current property owners by increasing their revenue stream options from agricultural endeavors, and loosening restrictions on land that is not currently usable due to urban encroachment. How a voter feels about these options may depend largely on how they weigh private ownership rights versus their desire to curb growth in their own backyard.
Photos courtesy https://twitter.com/sustainvc2016, http://www.soarvc.org/, and http://www.totallylocalvc.com/farm-tours-highlight-local-agriculture/.
Summer is coming to a close. Kids are going back to school, the days are growing shorter, and the “For Sale” sign is the front yard is casting a long shadow across your lawn. You were sure this would be done by now. But your home hasn’t sold yet, so now what? What are your options? At this point it is important to take a look and see how you got here, so that you know how to move forward.
In the Conejo Valley in the last 60 days, 386 homes were sold according to the MLS. Another 143 homes that were listed either expired or were cancelled, so just over 25% of properties listed did not sell for some reason. If your home falls into this category there are some questions you are likely asking yourself.
Do you still need to move? When do you need to be in your new home? If the answers to these are no and never, you probably have already stopped reading. But if the answer is absolutely, and yesterday, then you’ve got some work to do.
The first key to selling is to know your competition. Who is on the market today? There are currently 469 homes actively listed for sale in the Conejo Valley. How does your house compare with the properties listed in your neighborhood? What did the home in your neighborhood that sold this summer, while yours sat, sell for? Armed with this you can know what price you need to be at to attract a buyer before the competition does.
What was the feedback from buyers on showings? Are their critiques useful, and are there opportunities for you to allow your home to show better to prospective buyers?
The Buss-McKinley Group has experience helping sellers succeed where other agents have failed. We can get you on track, and get your property sold. Call us today at (805) 328-3799.
By Marissa Buss, firstname.lastname@example.org
The real estate market in the Conejo Valley as we head into the summer of 2016 is showing signs of a shift from the previous two years. Home prices continue to rise on the lower end of the market, as inventory levels below $750,000 have fallen more than 40% from 2015. The inventory levels of homes between $750,000 and $1.5 million are over 25% lower than last year. If you are considering selling, and your property falls in these categories, your competition in the market is greatly reduced relative to recent years. Prices are up. Competition down. And you are ready to sell. So where do you start?
Well, the first choice is between selling it yourself, or listing with a realtor to sell the property on your behalf. With a hot market and high prices, it is entirely possible to get your home sold and not need to pay a commission. However, without a realtor working for you, it is also likely that any buyer you work with will be expecting you to sell at a discounted price for exactly the same reason. Securing documentation from title companies, HOAs, and government agencies, as well as scheduling inspections and negotiating repair requests with the buyer is a fulltime job. Not to mention the legal liability that comes with such undertaking such a large financial transaction without representation. The right realtor can handle all this for you, as well as ensure that your home is marketed to maximize your exposure and ensure that the property sells for the highest possible price. We at the Buss-McKinley Group are the realtors who can do that for you.
The Buss-McKinley group is comprised of professionals who are all long-time residents of the area, having attended local schools as children up through and including attending California Lutheran and Pepperdine Universities. We know the geography, and the history of the community and the neighborhoods we service. That knowledge, combined with our diligent market research, allows us to price your home accurately. We also estimate your proceeds accurately from your sale by this method. By knowing this information ahead of time, you can be confident in planning how to proceed after the sale is completed.
The internet has changed how consumers shop for everything including, of course, real estate. We at the Buss-McKinley Group have embraced the modern market place. Professional staging and photography, as well as using a combination of traditional and social media online, allow us to market your home in a way to maximize exposure. We are RE/Max agents, and the RE/Max site is the most visited website among all national competitors. By ensuring your property looks its best and ensuring that it is seen by the greatest number of qualified buyers possible, we are able bring you the most competitive offers. With our direct and efficient process, your property gets into escrow faster and at the highest possible price.
For a free market analysis, or to find out what we can do for you, contact us today!
Written by Nelson Buss
Fixed versus Adjustable Rate
A conventional 30 year fixed-rate loan is the most common type of loan issued. The interest rate, and thus the payment, stays constant through the entire loan term. This loan is the most common loan used by buyers. It is ideal for people who are buying a home and are intending to stay in the home for a long period of time and wish to keep the mortgage payment a constant.
By contrast, an adjustable rate mortgage will have the ability to reset according pre-established conditions and intervals written into the mortgage contract. Usually these loans will be fixed at a lower rate for a set interval early in the loan, typically 3 to 10 years, and then change annually thereafter. Typically, there is a cap to the annual change in rate as well as a lifetime cap to the maximum interest rate of the loan so that the borrower knows in advance what their highest payment could be. These loans can be a boon to a buyer who is likely to sell again in a relatively short period of time or if the adjusted rate falls below what the initial purchase rate.
Conforming versus Jumbo Loans
Conforming loans are described as such because they meet the underwriting guidelines of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. These two entities are corporations that purchase and sell mortgage backed securities to investors on Wall Street under government established requirements. The loan limit for high balance conforming loans in Ventura County is currently $603,750.
Jumbo loans exceed these requirements and represent a greater risk for investors. The loans are for larger amounts and as such require borrowers to have excellent credit and require larger minimum down payments when compared to conforming loans, ranging from 15% to 20% of purchase cost. These loans typically have higher interest rates as well.
Conventional and Government Backed Financing
Conventional loans are direct transactions between borrower and lender. The lenders have a strict set of credit, income, down payment, and debt to income requirements that a buyer must qualify under. A typical down payment is at least 20%, or as little as 3% if the buyer pays mortgage insurance. Gift Funds from family members are allowed. Freddie Mac also allows family members to be non-occupying borrowers to help qualify for the home.
For buyers who need greater flexibility than is afforded by direct lender transactions, FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. This gives the lenders a guarantee that the loan will be satisfied, as well as provides a different and less restrictive set of qualification requirements. The greatest advantage of an FHA loan is the reduced down payment requirement, which can be as low as 3.5%. FHA loans do require mortgage insurance as well. Gift Funds from Family are allowed. FHA also allows family members to be non-occupying borrowers to help qualify for the home.
There is another loan program available to veterans, active duty military, and their surviving spouses. The VA loan is insured by the Federal Government and can be up to 100% of Purchase Price within County Loan Limits. VA limits specific costs associated with obtaining a mortgage for the Veteran. If you are a veteran, a mortgage professional can guide you through the process, beginning with obtaining your certificate of eligibility.
This is but a brief summary of the options that a buyer will find themselves presented with when looking at their mortgage options. For a more detailed explanation, or to help find the right mortgage for you, please contact us through e-mail at email@example.com or directly at 805-328-3799.
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Loan Centers of America NMLS 346449
Co NMLS ID 346449
CA BRE 01310757
Written by Nelson Buss
Check out our video outlining 4 ways to use closing cost credits to save you thousands!!