Dec 17, 2008

Locked their Loan at 4.625% !!!


Hello Neighbors,


One of Neighborly Realty's clients locked a loan today at 4.625%.

To the best of my knowledge, that is the lowest in recorded history! Or nearly the lowest. I can't vouch for the post World War II years or the Great Depression. My memory fades...

But in the last 40 or 50 years? This is it. The lowest ever.


Thinking of Buying?
Thinking of Re-financing?


Call me today, tomorrow, soon... just call! We can help you get this process started.


- Jim

Dec 11, 2008

Rates Dropped Below 5% Today !!


Hello Neighbors,

Thinking about a purchase, or a re-fi? NOW might be the best time in history to jump!

Standing at one of our credit union partners this morning... they handed me a rate sheet which showed a 30 year fixed loan was an amazing 4.875% (with .125 discount points). Amazing!

Their 15 year fixed loan product? 4.75% (with .125 discount points). Wow.

IF ANYONE NEEDS HELP with a loan or refinancing, give me a call and I can steer you in the right direction.

- Jim

Dec 10, 2008

Another Escrow Company Fails

Hello Neighbors,

Another sad sign of the times.

The LandAmerica Financial Group / Commonwealth Title Company (Escrow Company) is no longer with us. They’ve filed for bankruptcy protection.

From Kat Fiorentino, one of our Lender Partners:


Its official. Every lender has cut off LandAmerica and it affiliates from issuing title insurance. Most will not allow them to handle the escrow either. They are Bankrupt and therefore could not possibly insure any transactions chain of title.

LandAmerica Financial Group has recently filed for bankruptcy. Until a definitive arrangement regarding LandAmerica Title has been completed and First Cal can be assured that policies from LandAmerica Title are adequately capitalized, we require a new prelim and subsequent title policy from a title insurance company in good standing for any loan where documents have not be drawn.

Kat Fiorentino

This makes 3 that have gone out of business this year: Alliance, Financial, and now LandAmerica / Commonwealth.

….and guess what? We’ve had escrows in place with all 3 when they’ve failed! Yep. Unfortunately we can’t see these things coming, as most companies are private. But we are getting very good at managing the fallout from a failed title / escrow company.

You need help, give us a call!

- Jim

Pest Report Repairs – Licensed Contractors Required?

Hello Neighbors,

In California, the short answer... Nope!

With regard to repairs, licensed contractors aren’t required: Take a look at the text in the actual pest inspection report on page 2. It says “OWNER SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS CLOSED BID WHEN CONTRACTING WITH OTHERS OR UNDERTAKING THE WORK HIMSELF / HERSELF”.

TONS of information can be pulled from the California Pest Control Board’s website at: One of their documents is 152 pages long, another is 600 pages! Look for their 12 page booklet from the State of California which has a bunch of Q & A on pest requirements.

This particular issue hit me hard when I sold my own house (before getting into this business).

My Realtor at the time (the same agent who didn’t tell me about Supplemental Property Taxes) told me that a licensed contractor had to do the pest repairs, and that it HAD to be the same company who did the inspection.

I found out later – once I took the “Legal Aspects of Real Estate” course for my broker’s license - that wasn’t true. Anyone can do the repairs. Most of the time when representing a Seller, we have the Seller do their own repairs. Once the repairs are complete, you should have the original pest company come back out for a “re-inspect”, but even that isn’t legally required!

I even did one repair for a client in May of this year. They were having a baby, and couldn’t get to the last repair. So I helped them out.

So be aware – when working with pest inspection companies and vendors. It is part of the process to have them bid for the repair work. Their bids were reasonable…. before this current economic crisis. Now we are seeing some outrageously high bids from these same companies. They too are hurting, and need to generate revenue just like any other business.

- Jim

Are Pest Reports Legally Required?

Hello Neighbors,

In California, the short answer... Nope!

Would we want a client to move forward with a purchase or sale without one? NO!

A pest report isn’t a legal requirement at all for the State of California! Nope. It’s a lender requirement (90% of the time), or something us agent’s order simply so our clients have some protection / piece of mind.

TONS of information can be pulled from the California Pest Control Board’s website at: One of their documents is 152 pages long, another is 600 pages! Look for their 12 page booklet from the State of California which has a bunch of Q & A on pest requirements.

It says directly in the State of California materials (in the web site noted above): “Most lending institutions require that homes in California be inspected for wood destroying pests and organisms (WDO) before financing a home loan.” – it’s absolutely true of VA loans for example. But we have had loans go through (where we’ve been representing the Buyer) where a pest report wasn’t even required.

Of course, we nearly always have our client get a pest report. It’s common sense. In most bank transactions, a Buyer takes the home “as is”. It’s extraordinarily rare for a bank to supply any reports and do any repairs. However, we need to know what we are getting in to. A pest report gives us a quick glance at potentially expensive issues. Pest reports are usually between $85 - $125, and that’s cheap insurance for piece of mind.

In a “standard” family to family transaction, the Seller will likely order and pay for the pest report. In a Short Sale transaction, it’s anyone’s guess. In a REO (foreclosed, bank owned) transaction, the Buyer will probably have to order and pay for the inspection themselves.

- Jim

Dec 9, 2008

Good Homes are Still Selling - and Near List Price

Hello Neighbors,

A client called today and asked about placing an offer on a bank owned home. Of course, this is a standard call we get daily... but this time I pulled a bit more data to apply to this particular offer.

Good homes are still selling. The majority of them are bank owned. ...and, most are selling at list price or above.

I have one bank-owned home in escrow now in Nevada County. Our offer was at list price ($319,000), and so were the two other offers we were competing against. I closed one a few weeks ago for client in Antelope. That one was also at list price ($211,000).

Two of our agents (Kevin and Peter) just closed a total of 4 sales:

List prices for those were: $142,900, $178,000 $151,748, and $272,900

The corresponding sale prices were $150,000, $197,500 $140,148, and $272,900.

2 sold above list price, 1 sold below list price, and 1 sold directly at list price.

I am submitting an offer tonight on a home in Marysville with a list price of $157,000. Our offer is at the list price $157,000.

What does this say?

We all have the neighbor / friend / co-worker who "bought a house at 40% of list price" or "got a steal on a foreclosed home"... but if you look at the data? The banks have been pricing homes at near fair market value, and they are getting it.

- Jim

Dec 2, 2008

Our Sympathies

Hello Neighbors,

The ordeal in India from the last few days is over, but there is much healing to be done.

We want to extend our sympathies to those Indian families who were impacted.

This event holds special relevance to us. I stayed at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai several years ago. The hotel was stunning. The staff was amazingly friendly and helpful. Whenever you walked by, they stopped what they were doing to say hello. Amazingly too, they all knew your name... "Hello Mr. Harris". It didn't matter if they were working the front desks, or cleaning a room. The entire staff knew.

I was there on Hewlett-Packard business at the time. Jenny followed me a few years later (also for HP) and stayed at the Taj Hotel. Ironically, those were the two hotels attacked.

Jenny and I were saddened by these events, and the loss of the Oberoi and Taj staff. We wish those families our best.

We were glad to learn that the Indian families we work with locally (to help them with their Real Estate needs) weren't impacted.

Take care everyone, and look out for your Neighbors,

- Jim