Posted by: terryorealtor | November 6, 2008

Sewer Inspections?

Yep, we are seeing many homes built in the “70’s and older having issues with the sewers draining properly. Usually due to tree roots. The old clay piplines are cracking.

This is another inspection we are advising buyers to perform. If a sewer is failing can cost several thousands of dollars and by having an inspection you can negotiate up front with the seller to either repair, replace and/or share the cost of replacement.

No one wants to get into “stinky” situation………….

Posted by: terryorealtor | September 8, 2008

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

Well, the US Government has again stepped in and is using the taxpayers money to bail out another mortgage entity.

I have mixed feelings. Obviously, the US economy is dangerously near a total collapse and something had to be done.

On the other hand, I take exception to bailing out the corporate giants and investors who have sat on their thrones snubbing the average citizen in distress, refusing to work with them to renegotiate loan terms and to bail out the corporate madness that has ruined thousands and thousands of citizens credit and hopes for home ownership.

I distinctly remember approx 2.5 yrs ago that it was really bad what was happening prior to the public becoming aware of the mortgage meltdown. I was told that the public was purposely kept in the dark for fear of panic……..


Well the good news appears it has caused the mortgage interest rate to go down…..However, in reality it will only help a few.

Those homeowners so upside down  in their mortgage are beyond help.

The market should have been allowed to completely adjust in order to bring real stability.

Don’t you wonder how many of the good ole boys and gals from all walks of life and political upbringing is paying back favors to their friends and cohorts in distress?

My personal feelings, it would have been a hell of a lot smarter to have renegotiated the loans , kept homeowners in their homes than to allow what has happened.

Does anyone realize how many foreigners are investing in US real estate?  We have literally given our country away.

I am not against foreign investment,  but it is scary to know that some of our banks, major commercial real estate centers as well as regular real estate is owned by outside forces…….

We all fell for it, hook , line and sinker………

Posted by: terryorealtor | September 1, 2008

Federal Tax Change on Sale of Residence…IMPORTANT

Housing Assistance Tax of 2008….

“The amount of profits from the sale of a house that can be excluded will now be based on the percentage of time when the house was used as a primary residence by the taxpayer. ”
This can have significant effects upon profit and tax consequences. PLEASE see your CPA or Real Estate Tax Attorney for detailed information and how this could affect you now or in the future if you sell your home. I am not an attorney or CPA but this appears to be something NOT to be ignored up front.
It appears the amount of gain that will qualify for the exclusion is limited based on the amount of time that the house is actually used as a primary residence. If the house is used other than as a primary residence (such as rental property, or a vacation or second home), capital gains must be allocated between qualifying and non-qualifying use.
This is to take effect on January 1, 2009

Posted by: terryorealtor | August 30, 2008

Memorial to “Mitzi”

Mitzi   1997-2008

Mitzi 1997-2008

It is no secret my love for pets and my support for pet adoption and pet humane education.

7 weeks ago today,My best friend “Mitzi” crossed the rainbow bridge. Her loss has been unbearable.

I dedicate this website to her. Her sweet smile and spirit and her love for life.

“If Tears Could Build a Stairway and Memories Build a Lane, I Would Walk Up to Heaven and Bring You Home Again” Author Unknown

Posted by: terryorealtor | February 1, 2008

So you are going to buy a Short Sale home…

Things to remember….

  • Always get pre-Approved before starting your home search. Those agents who encourage you to look with a pre-qualification letter are not doing you any favors. You get yourself in an accepted contract,fall in love with the home, only to find out you will need to bring in more money, the interest rate is higher than you thought and the terms were not all what you were originally led to believe….then your stuck
  • Since the banks are taking 30-45 days to approve any short sales, make sure your inspection contingencies are to start on the day the bank approves the offer NOT when the seller signs….WHY? Inspections are costly, but needed, but NOT needed if your offer is not accepted. Why pay for an Appraisal if the offer is not accepted?
  • Believe it or not we still have loan sharks out there and people are still falling for their tactics……
  • You have the right to shop loans…do so, LOOK at all terms….Look for experienced loan officer who has been in the business for several years with a track record.
  • You should always receive a Truth In Lending Statement from your loan officer.
  • There are hundreds of potential short sale homes for you to consider.
  • Many are good buys. You just need to be patient.
  • Realistically expect a minimum of 45 days to close. Some banks are taking longer, some are taking shorter.
  • Remember you are not negotiating with the seller, you are negotiating with the bank!
  • The seller will need to sign off on your purchase offer. The purchase offer along with other required documents from the seller will be presented to the bank.
  • Having a Pre Approval letter from your bank will fair far better than a pre qualification letter. Some banks will require that you be approved by their own staff even though you are free to use whom you choose.
  • Make sure you have a seasoned agent represent your interests.
  • The short sale guidelines differ somewhat from traditional contracts and it is imperative that the buyers interest be protected with certain clauses and criteria.
  • In the state of California, an investor who is purchasing a property NOT for their personal use but for income property and the property is owner occupied cannot legally be represented by a Realtor. The Home Equity Act addresses this. This law is being revisited for modification ,however, at this time a bond must be posted for a Realtor to represent an investor seeking to purchase homes that are owner occupied and no such bonds exist in the state of California. In other words a Realtor cannot advise any investor buyer and/or write up a purchase contract for any investor/buyer where the home is owner occupied and the investor buyer is purchasing for investment use only, not personal use. The investor buyer must use an attorney in that situation.
  • Please check out for futher info.
Posted by: terryorealtor | January 22, 2008

Mortgage Debt Relief Act

Everyone was excited about the mortgage debt relief act but read on: it only applies to originating loans…There are several caveats…homeowners are still advised to seek legal advice from their attorney’s or CPA’s.

 This from Wendy Cutrufelli-

{The Mortgage Debt Relief Act will save some homeowners facing
short-sales or foreclosures from paying federal taxes on the “forgiven”
debt.   There are very specific requirements:

·        The mortgage is for the homeowners principal residence.  The
relief does not apply to any debt forgiveness for any vacation or
investment home.

·        Forgiveness is only for the “acquisition indebtedness” of the
principal residence.  Acquisition Indebtedness is defined as the debt
used to acquire, construct or rehabilitate the home. 

·        No relief is available for cash-out mortgages whether the
cash-out takes the form of a refinanced first mortgage, a second
mortgage, a home equity line of credit or a similar arrangement.

o   Exception:  If the cash-out was specifically used to improve the
home and the homeowner has adequate records to prove it.

Important note: This bill relieves these specific homeowner of their
federal tax liability but does NOT relieve the homeowner of their state
income tax liability. }

Wendy Cutrufelli, CMPS, CMP
Certified Mortgage Planner
Direct: 877-27Wendy

 For further information regarding short sales please check out


Posted by: terryorealtor | January 9, 2008

Moving with Pets!

MOVING WITH PETSmitzi.jpgEnsuring the safety and comfort of our pets in the moving process is a must.     

Short moves do not create as much as a dilemma as long moves but there are always things to watch out for.

Crosstown moving: Dogs                              winston-003_edited-1.jpg

1-If possible, take pet over to new place a few times to do the routine sniffing and steaking out of territory.

2-Ensure yard is secured or have a crate for your pet while moving items in and out.

3-Most dogs are excited just to be with their owners, others are more sensitive to stress. Signs could be snapping, loss of appetite,depression, aggression, excessive barking, etc

It is best until the moving activity has quieted down to keep your pet isolated in a safe room or area. Put your personal items such as shirts, socks etc in the crate or confined area as well as their favorite toys. That puts your smell right there with them. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water and food.

It is not uncommon for pets to take 30-90 days to acclimate to new settings. Be patient. Routine walks and play time with them will help greatly.

4-Put the radio on so they have music or the TV.

5-Make it a point to go in and reassure them from time to time or take them out for a quick walk to relieve themselves.

Cross Country By Air

If you fly a pet across country please check the references for any airline you use. Make sure the carrier you use has been approved for flying and that you place plenty of drinking water for them. Some pets do ok others have an extremely hard time. Not all airlines are as attentive as they should be to pets.

Driving cross country with your Pets

1-Don’t feed them before you leave. Have water available but wait until your days travel is done before feeding. Some dogs get carsick and throw up.

2-Have the pets medical history with you in case of emergency.

3-Make sure they are up to date on their shots.

4-Check particulars about the state you are entering. Some want additional inoculations as well as counties and cities have their rules about licensing.

5-Make it a point to stop every hour or so to allow pets to relieve themselves and refresh the driver.

6-Have pets secured either by seatbelt especially made for pets or in a crate.

7-NEVER leave a pet in an unattended car with windows rolled up in hot weather. Pets can die from heat exhaustion just as humans.

8-Carry extra leashes.

9-Microchip your pet if you have not done so already. Things happen. Sometimes dogs escape and are not found before you have to leave. By ID’ing will give them a chance if caught and turned into a shelter.

Cats have their own issues and I learned the hard way.

1-If your cat is not used to a car. Start taking them on short trips .

Start this weeks before your actual move. This way they will get accustomed to the car and not freak out, hopefully.

2-Sedatives, this is where I screwed up. I was told they would work well. They had the opposite effect on my cats.

You just need to check with your veterinarian for recommendations.

There are homeopathic or all natural herbs you can give both cats and dogs that seem to help keep them calm during changes.

With cats you make a small litter box to fit in their crate.

Cats may take longer to acclimate. One of my cats adjusted right away. The other hid for weeks, only to come out at nite to eat and then hide again.

Finally when he realized he was safe he went back to his normal self.


Posted by: terryorealtor | January 8, 2008

Condos,Townhomes vs Single Family Homes…

Is a condo,townhome is the best choice for you? Depends. If you are a professional with little time to do outside work and maintenance or whose funds are limited for repairs etc a condo or townhome may be your best choice.

Single family homes will definitely retain their value longer and higher than condo’s and townhomes with a few exceptions in terms of location and closeness to easy commute access.

Most HOA’s and you must read HOA documents carefully will maintain the outside and common areas. That is one less expense for a person to consider in home ownership.

Most HOA’s and again not all, will have community pools and spas. Less liability for a person who wants easy access to such but not the responsibility. Look for a condo or townhome with garage when possible and/or secure parking. Is always a big resale factor.

Most HOA’s has hazard insurance for the building and the buyer or owner of unit just needs to dovetail with a renters type insurance to protect their personal belongings. Another huge savings.

In terms of HOA fees being excessive you need to look at the whole picture. Some HOA’s pay for trash and water, many  HOA’s do not.

Single family home you are entirely responsible for all utilities, liability, upkeep, repairs and replacements. Are you prepared financially for that?

In choosing a condo or townhome you need to observe the grounds and the buildings to assure there is proper maintenance and upkeep. You need to READ the HOA documents for the stability of the HOA. Check their reserve status. Look at the minutes to see if new assessments are coming up and for what. Check to see if any lawsuits are pending.

There are some really great condos and townhomes with great HOA’s out there to satisfy many buyers needs and wants. There are some HOA’s in trouble and you need to watch out for that. What has the resale value been in the area you are seeking? Do your homework, hire a great Realtor(R) and remember the rule of thumb to make money or break even is to live in a home or condo for at least 5 yrs. Obviously, that rule is subject to overall economic conditions. Historically the real estate market goes up and it goes down.

Any Questions: Contact me at 925 627 3006.

Posted by: terryorealtor | January 1, 2008

Short Sale Trauma

One thing that has become very evident that is not being addressed is the emotional and mental trauma many homeowners are facing due to short sale and foreclosures. Not to be taken lightly. The look of devastation and failure has led to major depression and in some cases suicide.We are not pyschologists but I believe we would be a doing a great service to encourage personal counseling whether it be through their churches, non profit organizations and/or possibly support groups.To some it means absolutely nothing and they could care less. To others who have always maintained their finances and great credit becomes a major trauma and source of stress.I have already encountered several, especially with kids who are in an absolute state of panic and despair looking for some thread of hope in their situations.Several have lost jobs on top of losing their homes. Gas prices are not helping. Rising medical costs has caused many to cancel their medical insurance. This whole scenario is a recipe for disaster. It is not just about losing a stickhouse.Just another facet of foreclosure and short sale fall out that needs addressing.Many homeowners still do not realize they have options. The more we can educate and provide services in various forms to the consumers will lighten the load for many.This is the “season of miracles”….perhaps we can be part of the miracle in one way or fashion….Serving Sellers and Buyers in the Greater Walnut Creek, Ca area and surrounding communities.For more information about shortsales please visit our blog site below: 

Posted by: terryorealtor | January 1, 2008

Short Sales in Contra Costa County

Due to the overwhelming need to assist homeowners in presenting their homes as short sales to their lenders, Catherine Myers(  )and I are working together to hopefully assist homeowners in distress to minimize the damage to their credit. Our blog ContraCostaShortSalesBlog has some valuable information and links for those seeking some guidance.We are starting to see the banks cooperate more in doing short sales. We make NO guarantees. We are NOT attorneys. We encourage you to check with your lender first, seek legal counsel as well as check with your tax advisor before proceeding with a short sale. There is tax implications in both short sales and foreclosures.If you have a hardship such as divorce, medical issues, loss of job etc you will need to write up a letter to address the reason to the bank why you are seeking a short sale. The bank will require a lot of information before processing any purchase offer received on your home.Time is of the essence. Don’t wait to seek help after you have stopped making mortgage payments.Another item of note: If you did stated income and  if you knowingly stated fraudalent income on your application in order to qualify for a loan you definitely want to speak with an attorney first. It might be better to let the home foreclose. Doing a short sale will have the banks going back through your entire loan papers including application as part of their process to determine your eligibility for a short sale. If they find out you have over stated your income in order to get a loan , could potentially open you up to fraud charges.You may have options to refinance or have your present mortgage interest rate frozen for a few years with the government now getting involved. It is really important for you to speak with your lender, be up front and honest with them about your situation.

Some homeowners have panicked , not because they cannot make payments but because their equity has gone down. Well lets look at this. You bought the home for $400000 a couple years ago.  It peaked at $650000. It is now selling for around $525000. You still have made a profit and you still have equity.  Remember, real estate historically has its ups and downs and is really a long term investment.So give us a call and we can meet and take a look at your overall situation to better advise you.We service but are not limited to the greater Walnut Creek Area and the surrounding communities of Concord, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Clayton, Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Danville, Alamo, San Ramon, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley.

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