Nov 23, 2010

Closer Ties with

Hello Neighbors, and Happy Thanksgiving !!!

Neighborly continues to tighten our relationship with user of

It's the #1 property search engine, and an important method for us to reach out to new buyers. The relationship provides additional focus to your listings, and in addition to our "Showcase Listing" feature with really helps the Sellers we work with.

This new relationship also gives buyers in Rocklin and Granite Bay a quicker way to reach us, via new web sites and another toll free number.

Try these:

If needed, you can also use this toll free number to connect directly to Jim's cell phone:

(888) 902-1781

Give them a try, and spread the word!

Happy Holidays,


Oct 25, 2010

The Galleria Fire

Hello Neighbors,

Want to help with the Galleria?

A local company is hiring.

I dropped by their office twice yesterday and called them again this morning. Here is the article:

I will let you know what I hear. As you know, our office is right across the street from the Galleria.

We also registered the URL in hopes that we can use it for something productive in the near future. Right now the URL simply points to the Neighborly Financial web site.

- Jim

Oct 14, 2010

Neighborly Financial – Now Doing FHA Loans !!

Hello Neighbors,

WELL DONE to John Graham and the Neighborly Financial team!

They received confirmation a few days ago that Neighborly Financial can now do FHA loans.

This is the conclusion of a 3 year plan to roll out more services to Neighborly Financial’s clients.

Neighborly Financial can now help you with:

• Conventional Loans
• Jumbo Loans
• VA
• And a variety of other programs

Some industry experts estimate that over 50% of loans done today are FHA.

The steps required to get this certification are quite rigorous. Some agencies have had to post $250,000 security bonds to get this capability.

This opens up a huge new opportunity for your purchase and re-fi needs, and includes some loan products that hover around 97.5% financing!

Please do give Neighborly Financial a call for more detail.

Again, this is huge news and we congratulate the team!

- Jim

Blogging has been slow this summer, and we apologize. Why? The good news is that Neighborly continues to help and increasing number of clients with their real estate and lending needs, which limit "office" time. Client need is the #1 priority.

Jun 22, 2010

Employee Programs for HP, Intel, Apple, Yahoo, Weyerhaeuser, and More!

Hello Neighbors,

Fun news.

Neighborly is now partnered with several different large companies in Northern California and the Bay Area. Most are tech companies, which happily takes us back to our previous lives...

Neighborly has been working for several months to get these relationships in place, and they've all gone live simultaneously.

Neighborly now offers special programs to employees of:

- Hewlett-Packard
- Intel
- Apple
- Oracle
- Microsoft
- Yahoo
- Genentech
- KeyPoint
- Sony Playstation
- Levi Strauss
- Meriwest Credit Union
- CommonWealth Central

If you work for one of those companies, how do you get access to Neighborly's special employee programs?

Log into your employee discount portal and search:

a) Home & Garden > Real Estate category or
b) Finances & Money > Real Estate category

What is your employee discount portal called?

It could be different at each company. Examples:

1) HP's system is called "Passport”
2) Microsoft’s system is called “Benefits Prime”
3) Intel’s system is called “Vault”
4) Apple’s system is called “Passport Unlimited”
5) Weyerhaeuser's system is called "MyDiscount".

Contact your internal HR rep for help with your system.

Many thanks!

Jim Harris

Jun 16, 2010

Rates Are at Their Lowest... Ever


Hello Neighbors,

Pulling some mortgage data for a client this morning. Rates are at 4.25% for a 30 year loan, and 3.75% for a 15 year loan...... 3.75% !!!!!!!!!!!


- Jim Harris

Jun 7, 2010

Rocklin Inventory Update - 77 Homes, 90% are Short Sales

Hello Neighbors,

I did a quick search for a client today, using some very high level criteria:

- 2000 to 2500 square feet
- $220,000 to $300,000
- 3 to 4 bedrooms
- 2 to 3 bathrooms
- 1990 or newer construction
- Single and Two stories
- Rocklin, Roseville, Granite Bay.

The results?

77 homes came up in the search.

Of those 77:

- 70 are short sales!
- 1 is a HUD / HomeSteps home
- 1 is bank owned (a foreclosure)
- the other 5 are in a variety of different statuses.

Over 90% of these homes are in Short Sale status.

Buyers - THANK YOU for sticking with us as we continue to work through the short sale offer and escrow processes.

- Jim

May 29, 2010

Existing Home Sales Improve in April

Hello Neighbors,

It's a VERY long article, but the data seems to be good news.

We are hearing economists talk about a potential "double dip recession"... we sure hope not. Technically though, we won't know until after the data gets reported.

Let's hope we see more of this.

Many thanks to NAR for the research,

- Jim (making progress!)

Existing-Home Sales Continue to Improve in April
Washington, D.C., May 24, 2010

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2010) – Existing-home sales rose again in April with buyers motivated by the tax credit, improving consumer confidence and favorable affordability conditions, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million units in April from an upwardly revised 5.36 million in March, and are 22.8 percent higher than the 4.70 million-unit pace in April 2009. Monthly sales rose 7.0 percent in March.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the gain was widely anticipated. “The upswing in April existing-home sales was expected because of the tax credit inducement, and no doubt there will be some temporary fallback in the months immediately after it expires, but other factors also are supporting the market,” he said. “For people who were on the sidelines, there’s been a return of buyer confidence with stabilizing home prices, an improving economy and mortgage interest rates that remain historically low.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 5.10 percent in April from 4.97 percent in March; the rate was 4.91 percent in April 2009.

Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 11.5 percent to 4.04 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.4-month supply2 at the current sales pace, up from an 8.1-month supply in March. Raw unsold inventory is 2.7 percent above a year ago, but remains 11.6 percent below the record of 4.58 million in July 2008.

“Although inventory levels remain above normal and much of the gain last month was seasonal, the housing price correction appears essentially over,” Yun said. “In fact, a majority of the markets have seen price gains recently. A return to old-fashioned responsible lending and buying will help the housing market avoid disruptive and painful bubble-bust cycles.”

The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $173,100 in April, up 4.0 percent from April 2009. Distressed homes accounted for 33 percent of sales last month, compared with 35 percent in March.

NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz., said buyer traffic is mixed. “It looks like the level of home sales that close in May and June will stay elevated, but many buyers remain in the market even without the tax credit,” she said. “Some Realtors® tell us they are very busy with clients who are entering the market now as a result of improved conditions, while others are welcoming a slowdown from frantic market conditions in recent months.

“Buyers are focused on finding the right house and taking advantage of favorable affordability conditions. For many buyers, owning a home is a lifestyle choice. They want a place of their own to raise a family, build memories, and be part of a larger community,” Golder said.

A parallel NAR practitioner survey4 shows first-time buyers purchased 49 percent of homes in April, up from 44 percent in March. Investors accounted for 15 percent of transactions in April, down from 19 percent in March; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers. All-cash sales stood at 26 percent in April; they were 27 percent in March.

Single-family home sales rose 7.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million in April from a pace of 4.70 million in March, and are 20.5 percent above the 4.19 million level in April 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $173,400 in April, up 4.5 percent from a year ago.

Single-family median prices rose in 18 out of 20 metropolitan statistical areas reported in April from a year ago; six of the areas experienced double-digit increases. In data recently reported for the first quarter, 91 out of 152 metros saw price gains.

Existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 9.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 720,000 in April from 660,000 in March, and are 42.3 percent above the 506,000-unit pace in April 2009. The median existing condo price5 was $171,000 in April, which is 0.6 percent below a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast surged 21.1 percent to an annual level of 1.09 million in April and are 41.6 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $243,000, up 2.1 percent from April 2009.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 9.9 percent in April to a pace of 1.33 million and are 29.1 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $146,400, up 5.8 percent from April 2009.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 8.6 percent to an annual level of 2.14 million in April and are 23.0 percent higher than April 2009. The median price in the South was $150,000, up 1.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West fell 6.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.21 million in April but are 5.2 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $212,400, up 3.8 percent from April 2009.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

NOTE: NAR also reports monthly comparisons of existing single-family home sales and median prices for 20 select metropolitan statistical areas, which is posted with other tables at: For information on areas not included in the report, please contact the local association of Realtors®.

1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings. This differs from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which generally account for 85 to 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger sample – more than 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, condos were measured quarterly while single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions).

3The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to the seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if more data is received than was originally reported.

4First-time buyer and distressed sales data are from the Realtors® Confidence Index.

5Because there is a concentration of condos in high-cost metro areas, the national median condo price generally is higher than the median single-family price. In a given market area, condos typically cost less than single-family homes.

Existing-home sales for May will be released June 22. The next Pending Home Sales Index is scheduled for

June 2; release times are 10 a.m. EDT.

May 28, 2010

Referral Needed: Virtual Tour Provider in Austin, Texas

Hello Neighbors,

Yep, an odd request through this blog, but we need a hand.

We have the need to film virtual tours of a few different properties in and around Austin, Texas.

Our own team has been trying to create these, and they are doing a good job. We just aren't getting the "wide angle" view we need.

This is the level of quality we provide here for our listings, and what we are looking to achieve in Texas:

If you know of anyone who produces virtual tours like this in the Austin area, please send me their contact information. Please also send a URL with example work (or have them send it) to

Many thanks,

- Jim (making progress!)

May 27, 2010

Coming Soon: 3500 Square Feet on an Acre

Hello Neighbors - actual and virtual.

We are helping a family on our own street sell their custom home. We will likely go to market in July.

Approx 3500 square feet on an acre. If you are interested - or know someone in need of Auburn, California - please call me.

Not a short sale, not a foreclosure.

High quality neighbors guaranteed.

Many thanks,

- Jim

(916) 801.3940 (making progress!)

Now Hiring: Full Time or Part Time "Dual Career" Agents

Neighborly Realty is looking for agents, full time or part time "Dual Career".

Are you curious about what it's like to be a Realtor or how to become a Realtor?

Do you know of an agent that might be interested in talking to us about coming on board?

Please contact Neighborly's Kevin Grimes via, or call Kevin directly at 916.747.6357.

Many thanks!

- Jim Harris
(916) 801.3940 (slowly making progress!)

May 26, 2010

See Neighborly Financial's YouTube Videos

Hello Neighbors,

John has published the Neighborly Financial Q2 newsletter.

On the first page, he points you to a ton of videos stored out on YouTube.

Take a look:

The videos cover a variety of topics, and include:

* Getting pre-qualified for a loan
* The truth about advertised rates
* How to save money on a loan
* ...a few other topics.

Go into YouTube and search for "Neighborly" today.

Or, jump on the website and see the videos linked from there.

- Jim (making progress!)

May 25, 2010

Coming to Market Soon !!

Hello Neighbors,

We've got a few homes coming to market soon, and a few short sales that need Buyers!

Please take a look at the flyer below and let us know if you have any questions.

Neighborly is representing property from Elk Grove to Grass Valley... and everywhere in between.

Should your family need help, we would like to help you with properly marketing your home.

...over 80% of Buyers find their homes this way - through the internet. Make sure you work with someone who knows technology.

Please call.

Many thanks.

- Jim (making progress!)

May 24, 2010

Homes Needed for These Buyers

Hello Neighbors!

We need your help.

Neighborly is trying to help several families with home purchases. Due to the low inventory levels (and what is out there is mostly short sales), we are looking for your help.

If you have a need to sell, or know someone who is thinking of selling - please pass the flyer below to them. You can simply pass this blog URL.

If you would like an emailed copy of this flyer, please drop me a note.

We all thank you for your assistance - Neighborly and the families we are helping.

- Jim (making progress!)

Neighborly's KidsFest Update

Hello Neighbors,

GREAT fun a week ago at KidsFest in Rocklin.

The event came off really well. Over 1,000 people passed through the grounds during that 4 hour period.

For those of you who signed up for the free Hewlett Packard printer?

We have a winner! Marla Hall of Citrus Heights. Congratulations Marla! Kevin from our team will be contacting you shortly.

For those of you who signed up for the free CMA (Competitive Market Analysis) of your home, the team will be contacting you shortly as well. That research is equivalent to a “mini-appraisal”.

If any of your friends or family would like a CMA review, please let us know! We’re happy to help.

Neighborly is a Northern California based company and appreciates your support,

- Jim (making progress!)

May 10, 2010

"Strategic Defaults" - Borrowers Who Can Afford Their Homes, but Walk Away

Hello Neighbors,

60 minutes did a story last night on something we see in this business on a daily basis.

"Strategic Defaults". When a home owner CAN afford their mortgage, but they decide to walk away from their home and let it go to foreclosure.

Here's the link:

Although I agree with the depression-era view - that losing your house is the last straw - it's clear not everyone else does.

Regardless of your moral or ethical view of this trend, the economic impacts are something to find concerning. We simply don't have economic models for this behavior.

We know banks are sitting on foreclosed homes and not releasing them to the market. If 1 of every 5 upside down borrowers is choosing to walk away, then the foreclosure rates are going to continue to be record setting for years to come.

If you need to short sell, give Neighborly a call.

Please don't walk away. We can help you protect your financial future by doing the right thing.

- Jim (making small steps forward)

Apr 30, 2010

Neighborly Supports the "Tour de Cure" 100 Mile Bike Fund Raiser

Hello Neighbors!

Good fun.

Neighborly Realty & Neighborly Financial will be supporting the "Tour de Cure" 100 mile bicycle ride and fund raiser tomorrow, May 1st.

Here is the link:

Neighborly's own Jeff Engle will be driving a support vehicle during the middle of the event!

Visit the web site, come out to the course, and come support the American Diabetes Association!

- Jim (check back in Mid May)

Apr 29, 2010

Latest Data is Out - Sales are UP.

Hello Neighbors,

Hopefully this graph of existing home sales will come across well. If not, call me for the data.

What I find amazing is the ratio of homes that have gone PENDING (in escrow) vs. the amount that are on the market. It's gone nuts in the last month or two.

PENDINGs were at a record 2,921 in March - that is several hundred higher than any month since 2008.

While homes on the market have increased at a much slower pace (only 3,963 for the same March measure).

Meaning? There are segments of the market that are absolutely now a "Seller's Market". ...which is how we operated between 2002 - 2005.

Here is the data:

Many thanks,

- Jim

Apr 23, 2010

Approved Short Sale - Buyer Walked !!

Hello Neighbors,

We don't usually use this space for updates about just one listing, but this is a special opportunity.

After months of negotiation, we have short sale approval at $146,400 for an Elk Grove property. ...and the original buyers have walked away!

If needed, a new buyer could likely close in 30 days.

We call this the "sweet spot" of short sales - the lender has approved the terms and conditions (which takes MONTHS) but the original offers have moved on. Now the property is ready for another potential buyer - and that buyer won't have to wait months!

Some basic details:

$35,082 Spent in Installed Builder Options !!!!

• 2 Bedrooms, 2 Separate Bathrooms, and a 1 Car Garage Included !!
• Great Room Concept with Kitchen + Living Room + Nook
• 1,239 Square Feet on this Quiet Second Floor
• Quality DR Horton Construction – Completed in 2007 – with DR Horton’s Ultra-Efficient “Environments for Living” Options, Meaning Very Low Utility Bills
• Outdoor Balcony / Patio for your Barbeque, Table + Chairs
• Upstairs Laundry
• Maple Cabinets, Built In Entertainment Center, and Fireplace!
• Granite Counter Tops in Kitchen
• Pre-Wired for Security Systems
• Upgraded 18” x 18” Tile Flooring Throughout
• Maytag Stainless Steel Appliances
• Upgraded Window Treatments, Including 3.5” Plantation Shutters
• Upgraded Carpet and Carpet Pad
• Maple Stair Rail, and Elegant Wood Framed Stairs
• Additional Storage Fixtures in Garage
• Upgraded Sinks and Faucets, Shower Doors Too!

MLS #10006472

We put a few pictures in Craigslist at this URL:

Please let us know if we can help!

Many thanks,

- Jim (Good video content, web site needs work)

Apr 21, 2010

Neighborly Joins Tahoe Sierra Board

Hello Neighbors,

Neighborly joined our 4th Realtor board today, the Tahoe-Sierra board.

If interested, their web site is:

Neighborly is now officially part of:

* Placer County Association of Realtors
* Sacramento Association of Realtors
* Nevada County Association of Realtors
* Tahoe Sierra Association of Realtors.


We have another client who needs better information in the Tahoe area than the "standard" Placer County and Nevada County MLS systems provide. The Tahoe area is on a smaller MLS system than the rest of the nearby counties. They are supposed to list properties in the major MLS systems too, but we are done fighting that battle.


Should you need help with vacation property in Tahoe, or even your primary residence in Tahoe, we now have even better information.

Many thanks,

- Jim (Good video content, but web site in development)

Apr 19, 2010

Win a 5 Bedroom Home in Rocklin !!

Hello Neighbors,

What a fantastic opportunity and for a wonderful cause.

For a $100 entry ticket, your family could win a 5 Bedroom home in Rocklin. Yep. 3,096 square feet. Free. Built by Standard Pacific Homes. The address is already set - 2122 Ranch View Drive in Rocklin's Whitney Ranch.

This is made possible through a St. Jude charity program.

Here is the link:

The drawing is on June 27th.

Don't act too quickly though - Jenny and I haven't bought our tickets yet!

Good luck.

Please do invite Neighborly to the housewarming party!

More about St. Jude and their children's programs:

- Jim (GOOD video content, but website really hurting)

Apr 16, 2010

US Q1 Foreclosure Rates Grew at 35% over Q1 Last Year

Many thanks to Paul Smith for passing this along.

Hello Neighbors,

From Yahoo yesterday.

Disapointing data on the foreclosure rates. Lots of detail below. One point of importance at the very bottom:

>>> California accounted for the biggest slice overall of homes facing foreclosure - roughly 23 percent of the nation's total. One in every 62 properties received a foreclosure filing in the first quarter. <<<

Neighborly has signed up with a Chicago based company to help sell foreclosed homes. We don't have insight yet on timeline on volumes, but watch this space for future updates.

By ALEX VEIGA, AP Real Estate Writer Alex Veiga, Ap Real Estate Writer - Thu Apr 15, 7:32 am ET

LOS ANGELES - A record number of U.S. homes were lost to foreclosure in the first three months of this year, a sign banks are starting to wade through the backlog of troubled home loans at a faster pace, according to a new report.

RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday that the number of U.S. homes taken over by banks jumped 35 percent in the first quarter from a year ago. In addition, households facing foreclosure grew 16 percent in the same period and 7 percent from the last three months of 2009.

More homes were taken over by banks and scheduled for a foreclosure sale than in any quarter going back to at least January 2005, when RealtyTrac began reporting the data, the firm said.

"We're right now on pace to see more than 1 million bank repossessions this year," said Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac senior vice president.

Foreclosures began to ease last year as banks came under pressure from the Obama administration to modify home loans for troubled borrowers. In addition, some states enacted foreclosure moratoriums in hopes of giving homeowners behind in payments time to catch up. And in many cases, banks have had trouble coping with how to handle the glut of problem loans.

These factors have helped slow the pace of foreclosures, but now that trend appears to be reversing.

"We're finally seeing the banks start to process the inventory that has been in foreclosure, but delayed in processing," Sharga said. "We expect the pace to accelerate as the year goes on."

In all, more than 900,000 households, or one in every 138 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice, RealtyTrac said. The firm based in Irvine, Calif., tracks notices for defaults, scheduled home auctions and home repossessions.

Homeowners continue to fall behind on payments because they've lost their job or seen their mortgage payment rise due to an interest-rate reset. Many are unable to refinance because they now owe more on their loan than their home is worth.

The Obama administration's $75 billion foreclosure prevention program has only been able to help a small fraction of troubled homeowners.

About 231,000 homeowners have completed loan modifications as part of the Obama administration's flagship foreclosure prevention program through March. That's about 21 percent of the 1.2 million borrowers who began the program over the past year.

But another 158,000 homeowners who signed up have dropped out - either because they didn't make payments or failed to return the necessary documents. That's up from about 90,000 just a month earlier.

Last month, the administration expanded the program, launching a plan to reduce the amount some troubled borrowers owe on their home loans and give jobless homeowners a temporary break. But the details of those programs are expected to take months to work out.

The states with the highest foreclosure rates in the first quarter were Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California, with Nevada leading the pack, RealtyTrac said.

Rising home prices and speculation fueled a wave of home construction there during the housing boom. But now the state, particularly around the Las Vegas metropolitan area, is saddled with a glut of unsold homes.

Still, the number of homes in Nevada that received a foreclosure filing dropped 16 percent from the first quarter last year.

All told, one in every 33 homes in Nevada was facing foreclosure, more than four times the national average, RealtyTrac said.

Foreclosure filings rose on an annual and quarterly basis in Arizona, however.

One in every 49 homes there received a foreclosure-related notice during the quarter.

Florida, meanwhile, posted the third-highest foreclosure rate with one out of every 57 properties receiving a foreclosure filing.

California accounted for the biggest slice overall of homes facing foreclosure - roughly 23 percent of the nation's total. One in every 62 properties received a foreclosure filing in the first quarter.

Thanks again Yahoo.

- Jim (GOOD video content, yet the site is still a mess)

Apr 14, 2010

Rocklin Hosts "KidFest" on May 16th

Hello Neighbors!

Join us this May 16th from Noon to 4:00 at Rocklin's "KidFest"!

For young families, this should be a kick. Not only are there tons of kid and family friendly vendors, but there will be activities for the kids... You can even register for a mini-triathlon.

See you there!

- Jim (early in development)

Apr 7, 2010

Neighborly Becomes Preferred Supplier

Hello Neighbors,

Exciting times indeed.

Neighborly has partnered with ( to help California Buyers searching in Granite Bay and Rocklin! is the #1 search engine used for Real Estate in the United States. Not a bad partner to have!

Click on these links below to try the "Search Assist" program now:

Granite Bay:


Please let us know how we can help you and your families.


- Jim

www.PartnerWithNeighborly (EARLY in Development)

Apr 2, 2010

Interest Rates are Moving Up!

Hello Neighbors,

March 31st was the last day of the Federal program to buy mortgage backed securities. That is the program that has been removing the bad loan debt from the market at an enormous rate. It’s been going for well over a year now, and we know it’s been keeping mortgage interest rates artificially low.

Yesterday was the first day without this program in effect, and guess what?

We are already seeing rates jump. Yesterday they went up a quarter of a point.

Overnight? Some rates aren’t even available now. A few days ago, a client could buy down a rate to the low 4 percents. Now? We can’t even get access to those low 4 percent rates. Buying down will get you into the mid or high 4 percents.


While movement on any day is expected, the move by the Fed in general is signaling that interest rates are going up.

While we have all expected this, to what degree they will change (go up) is anyone’s guess.

Buyers? Be alert.

Re-financing? Get busy.

Many thanks,

- Jim

Apr 1, 2010

3rd Neighborly Business Under Way!

Hello Neighbors,

Exciting times here at Neighborly!

The real estate company has been up and running since 2002.

The mortgage loan company has been up and running since 2007.

It's time to start something new!

In a few days we launch the new "Neighborly Gas & Sip"! Yep, a convenience store that is truly Neighborly. High quality gasoline, high quality slurpees. Tasty salted snack treats. We'll have a lotto kiosk sitting next to a Neighborly Financial loan officer. Win the big draw, and immediately finance your castle.

The first location will open in Roseville in The Fountains.

Branches two and three will be in Des Moines, Iowa and Puerto Rico.


- Jim

Mar 30, 2010

Suspension of National Flood Insurance Program

Hello Neighbors,

This just in from our friend Chris Altobell with Farmers Insurance. It looks like buyers in Natomas may have a few extra hiccups:

Hi Jim,

The National Flood Insurance Program has been suspended; meaning new flood policies cannot be issued. This will likely have an impact on your clients looking to close escrow on a house in the Natomas area (or any other area) where flood insurance is required by the lender.

The flood program will not be reconsidered for extension until the Senate resumes its session on April 12th.

Here’s why it is being suspended:

1) The proposal for extending the flood program is part of a larger package of programs that are under consideration for extension. There is opposition to extending some of the other programs, not the flood program.

2) There are many in Congress who want to make reforms before granting a long-term extension to the flood program.

I’ll keep you posted on any further changes.



Have questions?

Chris can be reached at the following:

Altobell Insurance Agency
1700 Eureka Rd., Ste 120
Roseville, CA 95661
(916) 797-0990 (office)
(916) 214-2126 (cell)

Thank you Chris for the updates!

- Jim

Mar 25, 2010

California Extends Buyer Tax Credits !!!!!!!!

Hello Neighbors,

This JUST in... literally, not 30 seconds ago.

It looks like California is extending Buyer tax credits past the existing April / June deadline!

I will dig into the mechanics of the legislation more in the coming days, but here is the note we just received from the California Association of Realtors:

Dear C.A.R. Member:

I’m gratified to report that late this afternoon, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 183, the Homebuyer Tax Credit legislation, into law. His actions today are the result of our efforts in Sacramento over the last several weeks as members and our team in the capital worked for the bill’s passage before it landed on the governor’s desk.

AB 183 will provide $200 million for home buyer tax credits, allocating $100 million for qualified first-time home buyers of existing homes and $100 million for purchasers of new, or previously unoccupied, homes. The eligible taxpayer who purchases a qualified personal residence on and after May 1, 2010, and on or before Dec. 31, 2010, or who purchases a qualified principal residence on and after Dec. 31, 2010, and before Aug. 1, 2011, pursuant to an enforceable contract executed on or before Dec. 31, 2010, will be able to take the allowed tax credit. The credit is equal to the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,000, in equal installments over three consecutive years. Under AB 183, purchasers will be required to live in the home for at least two years or forfeit the credit (i.e., repay it to the state).

The positive impact of the federal home buyer tax credit is clear. Nearly 40 percent of first-time home buyers said they would not have purchased a home if the federal tax credit for first-time home buyers was not offered, according to C.A.R. research conducted last year.

The state’s previous home buyer tax credit program was so successful that it ran out of tax credits by the end of June 2009, eight months before it was set to expire and just as housing markets appeared to be turning a corner. Unlike last year’s legislation, AB 183 adds a tax credit for the purchase of an existing home by a first-time home buyer.

AB 183 will significantly contribute to the effort to stimulate jobs-creation within California's housing market by helping to incentivize first-time home buyers to purchase homes that have been abandoned, foreclosed upon and returned to the lender, or have been sitting on the market for extended periods of time. It is these homes that will require substantial rehabilitation by the new owners, which will in turn generate a tremendous increase in jobs and accessory purchases connected to home improvement activities.

Your Association’s efforts at the state and federal level to help protect private property rights and your right to conduct business are ongoing. This promises to be another busy year in the state legislature and in Washington, D.C.

If you’re not already involved in the political process, I encourage you to do so. You can go to for a quick guide to involvement opportunities at the local, state, and national levels.


Steve Goddard
2010 President

Woo Whoo!

- Jim

Mar 24, 2010

Neighborly Welcomes Noelle Pitts to the Team !!

Hello Neighbors!

It's been a GREAT week here at Neighborly!

The real estate team added a fine young lady to the group - Noelle Pitts.

Noelle comes to us with experience, and from one of the larger "corporate" brokerages. She got tired of the high costs of doing business with the large shops, and wanted to focus more on the customer experience - 1000% the Neighborly Way!

Welcome to the team Noelle, and thank you for spending your time with Neighborly!

If any of you need help, Noelle is full blast as of a few days ago. You can reach her at 916.600.7665. You can also email Noelle directly at

Woo Whoo!

- Jim

Appraisal Problems (Again)

Hello Neighbors,

More insanity with appraisals.

As we are seeing with just about every appraisal these days, the values are out of sync with the market. It doesn't matter if the appraisal is for one of our real estate clients or for one of our partner company's loan / re-fi clients.

On May 1st of last year, the government changed the regulations governing the appraisal industry. The regulation is known as “HVCC” – Home Valuation Code of Conduct. We are now getting appraisers from out of the area doing appraisals in areas

Here is a bit of background on the appraisal changes over the last year and a half:

My own experiences:

Thoughts from the industry in general:

From the National Association of Mortgage Brokers:

Our latest appraisal came in at roughly $11,000 below our offer price.

The appraiser isn't a high performer. He has used one comp that is bank owned property (that isn’t truly “like kind”).

What does it all mean?

If you are putting a large sum of cash into the process, then the appraisal value isn't as much of a problem. If you are using a high loan to value ratio, then you may be in trouble - having to renegotiate the contract, get additional appraisals, or a few other steps.

Remember - the valuation is more of a “comfort” level for the Buyer / Borrower. The appraisal isn’t used by any other entity – it’s not used by the County to determine your taxes, it’s not used by the home owners insurance company to determine value, it’s not used by any other group in this process.

I think my clients are getting this particular home at a good price (or I wouldn’t let us proceed).


Nope. We still don't have effective channels to provide feedback on appraisals or appraisers.

- Jim

Mar 3, 2010

Infamous Sacramento Landmark Up for Sale

Hello Neighbors,

This is a bit morbid, but an important part of downtown Sacramento real estate history.

1426 F St Sacramento, CA 95814

MLS# 10015576

List price is currently $309,800. It is bank owned (Bank of America), meaning the last buyers (who paid $560,000) defaulted.

This duplex has a very sad history. Back in 1988, this duplex was owned by a lady named Dorothea Puente.

This property comes with a ton of disclosures, including photocopies of the newspaper articles.

- Jim

Feb 2, 2010

Toll Free 1-800 Recorded Mortgage Loan Information

Hello Neighbors!

This one is fun...

John and his team are at it again. Using technology to get information out fast and free.

He has recorded 5 new messages (each just a minute or two long) and put them out on our toll free service line.

Give them a try and let us know what you think.

The Neighborly toll free number is 1-800-960-0860.

Extension numbers and topics are as follows:

• 8000 – How Do I Take Advantage of the Buyer Tax Credits Before April?
• 8100 – How Do I Pick the Right Lender?
• 8200 – How Do I Get Pre-Approved for a Loan?
• 8300 – How Do I Get the Best Rates on a Loan?
• 8400 – Is My Current Loan Worth Re-Financing?

Many thanks for support Neighborly.

- Jim

Jan 20, 2010

FHA Announces Changes to Lending Policies: More Mortgage Insurance

Hello Neighbors,

FHA just announced some big changes.

Why is this important?

FHA drives the standards for loan qualification that many of the large lenders adhere too. FHA backed loans are also a major percentage of all loans underwritten in this current market.

FHA loans are popular when times are tough. When lending is easy? FHA fades into the background. No more. The lending practices of 2000 – 2005 have pushed FHA back into control.

What does this mean?

• Loans will be a bit more expensive for the borrower, for those who finance more than 80% of the purchase price.
• Sellers can expect a reduction in requested concessions – no longer will the Buyers ask for 6%. It’s now limited to 3%.
• A few other technical issues that will make loans a bit harder to qualify for.

Here is the detail from the FHA:


New Measures Will Help FHA Better Manage Risk, While Maintaining Support for the Housing Market and Access for Underserved Communities

WASHINGTON – Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner David Stevens today announced a set of policy changes to strengthen the FHA’s capital reserves, while enabling the agency to continue to fulfill its mission to provide access to homeownership for underserved communities. The changes announced today are the latest in a series of changes Stevens has enacted in order to better position the FHA to manage its risk while continuing to support the nation’s housing market recovery.

The FHA will propose to take the following steps: increase the mortgage insurance premium (MIP); update the combination of FICO scores and down payments for new borrowers; reduce seller concessions to three percent, from six percent; and implement a series of significant measures aimed at increasing lender enforcement. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan previewed the changes in December of last year, noting that the FHA would announce additional details before the end of January.

“Striking the right balance between managing the FHA’s risk, continuing to provide access to underserved communities, and supporting the nation’s economic recovery is critically important,” said Commissioner Stevens. “When combined with the risk management measures announced in September of last year, these changes are among the most significant steps to address risk in the agency’s history. Additionally, by continuing to provide affordable, responsible mortgage products, FHA will support the housing market’s recovery. Importantly, FHA will remain the largest source of home purchase financing for underserved communities.”

Announced FHA Policy Changes:
1. Mortgage insurance premium (MIP) will be increased to build up capital reserves and bring back private lending
a) The first step will be to raise the up-front MIP by 50 bps to 2.25% and request legislative authority to increase the maximum annual MIP that the FHA can charge.
b) If this authority is granted, then the second step will be to shift some of the premium increase from the up-front MIP to the annual MIP.
c) This shift will allow for the capital reserves to increase with less impact to the consumer, because the annual MIP is paid over the life of the loan instead of at the time of closing
d) The initial up-front increase is included in a Mortgagee Letter to be released tomorrow, January 21st, and will go into effect in the spring.

2. Update the combination of FICO scores and down payments for new borrowers.
a) New borrowers will now be required to have a minimum FICO score of 580 to qualify for FHA's 3.5% down payment program. New borrowers with less than a 580 FICO score will be required to put down at least 10%.
b) This allows the FHA to better balance its risk and continue to provide access for those borrowers who have historically performed well.
c) This change will be posted in the Federal Register in February and, after a notice and comment period, would go into effect in the early summer.

3. Reduce allowable seller concessions from 6% to 3%
a) The current level exposes the FHA to excess risk by creating incentives to inflate appraised value. This change will bring FHA into conformity with industry standards on seller concessions.
b) This change will be posted in the Federal Register in February, and after a notice and comment period, would go into effect in the early summer.

4. Increase enforcement on FHA lenders
a) Publicly report lender performance rankings to complement currently available Neighborhood Watch data - Will be available on the HUD website on February 1.
a1) This is an operational change to make information more user-friendly and hold lenders more accountable; it does not require new regulatory action as Neighborhood Watch data is currently publicly available.
b) Enhance monitoring of lender performance and compliance with FHA guidelines and standards.
b1) Implement Credit Watch termination through lender underwriting ID in addition to originating ID.
b2) This change is included in a Mortgagee Letter to be released tomorrow, January 21st, and is effective immediately.
c) Implement statutory authority through regulation of section 256 of the National Housing Act to enforce indemnification provisions for lenders using delegated insuring process
c1) Specifications of this change will be posted in March, and after a notice and comment period, would go into effect in early summer.
d) HUD is pursuing legislative authority to increase enforcement on FHA lenders. Specific authority includes:
d1) Amendment of section 256 of the National Housing Act to apply indemnification provisions to all Direct Endorsement lenders. This would require all approved mortgagees to assume liability for all of the loans that they originate and underwrite
d2) Legislative authority permitting HUD maximum flexibility to establish separate "areas" for purposes of review and termination under the Credit Watch initiative. This would provide authority to withdraw originating and underwriting approval for a lender nationwide on the basis of the performance of its regional branches

In addition to the changes proposed today, the FHA is continuing to review its overall response to housing market conditions, and continuing to evaluate its mortgage insurance underwriting standards and its measures to help distressed and underwater borrowers through FHA/HAMP and other FHA initiatives going forward.

Many thanks,

- Jim

Jan 19, 2010

MOVIE: What is My "FICO Score" (Your Credit Score)

Hello Neighbors,

Again, more educational material from the team at Neighborly Financial.

You may have heard the term “FICO score” before… You’ve certainly heard the term “credit score”. What are they? Are they different? How are they calculated, and how can I improve mine?

Watch this video and find out how your credit score matters, and how the actions you take can impact that score:

Need more information? Call John Graham at 916.799.4336 or email John at

Many thanks,

- Jim

MOVIE: What is my Loan’s “APR” and Why is it Higher Than Interest?

Hello Neighbors,

Again, more educational material from the team at Neighborly Financial.

This time - what is "APR"?

Like interest, you will see this number quoted in your mortgage (purchase or re-fi) Good Faith Estimates. Unlike interest, it isn't totally clear how this number was created.

Watch this video and find out why APR is often higher than the interest rate you've been shopping for:

Many thanks,

- Jim

MOVIE TIME: Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

Hello Neighbors,

Our team at Neighborly Financial is at it again – creating more consumer education videos to help you make informed mortgage decisions.

Again, be gentle.

The content is fantastic, but we aren’t movie stars. Brad Pitt has nothing to fear.

Should you need more insight, please contact John Graham at 917.799.4336 or email

This first movie: What is the difference between a Pre-Qualification letter and a Pre-Approval letter.

What are the process differences between the two, and which should you ask for?

Why does your Realtor need this data up front before you start looking for houses?

Please take a look and let us know what you think:

Many thanks,

- Jim

Jan 8, 2010

Neighborly in Kaneva

Hello Neighbors, and "virtual neighbors",

We aren't sure how it works yet, but we took the leap into a very popular "virtual world" called Kaneva:

Some of our younger clients have mentioned this a few times... so why not?

If you are in Kaneva, look us up!

Many thanks,

- Jim

Jan 6, 2010

Help Us With the Next Neighborly Web Design !

Hello Neighbors,

Do you have some graphic artist skills?

Do you create pages for the web?

Want to participate in a design contest?

If so, take a look at and search for Neighborly.

We are sponsoring a contest to design the next version of the "Neighborly Group" website. The contest will run for a week.

On that site, click on "Browse Projects" then enter "Neighborly" in the keyword field.

Thanks for the help!

- Jim