Pricing Property in the Current Market

Has the property bubble burst in Orange County?

No,  not really,  but I can tell you that buyers are bringing the price of the market in general,  down.  They are doing this by low-balling sellers.  Desperate sellers (distressed sales) that are accepting these low-ball offers are playing right into the hands of those who are trying to bring property market prices down!

So,  how does a seller price a property ‘right’ for the market?

First,  and I cannot stress this enough…  get a qualified and experienced Realtor to do this for you. 

Your property must be measured up against – not the property that has just been listed in the neighbood 2 miles away, but against actual properties that have been sold within the last month or two.  These are called comparables and comparables are properties that are with a certain distance from yours.

Remember, that two streets north, a property may be adjacent to the freeway,  and two streets south,  the property may be within walking distance of the ocean.  Both these factors will affect the pricing of your property.

So you have a pool?  This is great,  but while a pool may be an asset to you,  because you invested in it,  it only has value to those who WANT a pool.  To the person who hates swimming or has a 6 month old child,  a pool would be a liability.

There is nothing that increases the marketability of a home quite like curb appeal and the first sight after walking in through the fornt door!  Your buyer has 10 seconds to draw a first impression, so this is where your effort must go into creating the ‘Wow’ factor.

Lets say that you have an identical property to the one that sold last week on your street.  Everything is the same…  number of bedrooms and bathrooms,  square footage, lot size etc.  Why should your property fetch a better list price than the other one?

Perhaps you have scraped ceilings and granite counters…  perhaps you have copper plumbing and the other one doesn’t… your property had roof replacement last year where the other one was replaced 15 years ago.

All this affects the list price of your home.

If you want a quick sale in the current market,  you must take the comparable price and DROP it,  otherwise you just won’t be in the game!

The other thing to consider,  is the buyers commision percentage. When a buyers agent is faced with 40 or 50 homes to show a client,  and has to whittle that number down to 5 or 6,  they are more likely to look at what commission is offered.  If you offer 3 – 3.5% commission and the property down the street is offering 4 – 5% commission,  whose house do you think will be shown?

Sad, but true!

In this market,  sellers need to do everything that they can to expose their properties to the more serious buyers and those serious buyers are brought to you by buyers agents!  If you want agents to show your property to serious buyers,  make it worth their while.

Just as you would like a fair price for your home,  so a buyers agent would like fair remuneration for their time and much of the work that Realtors do, is without cost.

If you would like a free market analysis of your property,  contact us at (714) 264-3458 for a free, no obligation report.

Happy house-hunting!

Rose-Marie & Althea
The OC Dream Home Team

View 38,000 properties at  Interested in foreclosure properties? …

Take one of our Saturday Foreclosure tours!

Want to buy property but don’t know how?…

Attend our next First-Time Home-Buyers seminar and learn the tricks of the trade!

Call (714) 264-3458 NOW!….  for more information.


Are the Holidays a Good Time To Buy Property?

Most will say not!  Most people will tell you that the holidays are a time when buyers concentrate on holiday shopping, preparation and merry-making.

This is the myth that ‘they’ would like you to believe so that ‘they’ can get in and scoop up the ‘pickin’s’ at low prices!

True, many sellers put their homes on the market in the summer, for a quick sale and then pull the property off the market in the fall, when prices tend to dip, families visit for the holidays, etc. This is normal and it happens every year!

The fact of the matter is that serious buyers will buy when it suits THEM to buy and if a serious buyer needs to be moved by December 24th,  they will be house hunting over the holidays and request a quick Escrow!

Two years ago,  at the very peak of property prices, we concluded an Escrow in one week – yup,  7 days!  Admittedly,  we would not want to work like that all the time, but when it is needed by the client, we pull out all stops to make it happen.

Escrow closed on December 24th,  which means that while everyone else was doing their holiday shopping, wrapping gifts and preparing the holiday menu,  our clients were out with us,  looking at property.

It is unfortunate that they had so little inventory to choose from,  being as many sellers had withdrawn their homes, but the buyer found a property that they fell in love with and were in and unpacked by January 1!

In this market,  we are seeing a lot of investors who are throwing out low-ball offers. To be honest, many of these offers amount to nothing more than an insult and a waste of time, but a serious buyer will offer a fair price and will see the Escrow through to the end.

A serious seller will consider that fair offer and accept it, even if there are conditions to the sale.

What results, are satisfied sellers who gets what they want (they sale of the property), and elated buyers who now have their own home!

Between them lie very happy Realtors who are once again happy that they were able to grant wishes.

It’s wonderful to be the fairy godmothers of Real Estate!

Happy house-hunting!

Rose-Marie & Althea
The OC Dream Home Team
View 38,000 properties at 

Interested in foreclosure properties?
Take one of our Saturday Foreclosure tours!
Want to buy property but don’t know how?
Attend our next First-Time Home-Buyers seminar and learn the tricks of the trade!
Call (714) 264-3458 NOW!….  for more information.

5 Secrets For Buying the Best Home For Your Money!

1. Get “Pre-Approved” – Not “Pre-Qualified!”

Do you want to get the best property you can for the least amount of money? Then make sure you are in the strongest negotiating position possible.
Price is only one element in the negotiations, and not necessarily the most important one. Often other terms, such as the strength of the buyer or the length of escrow, are critical to a seller.In years past, I always recommended that buyers get “pre-qualified” by a lender. This means that you spend a few minutes on the phone with a lender who asks you a few questions. Based on the answers, the lender pronounces you “pre-qualified” and issues a certificate that you can show to a seller. Sellers are aware that such certificates are WORTHLESS, and here’s why! None of the information has been verified!Many times unknown problems can come to the surface!Some of the problems I’ve seen include recorded judgments, alimony payments due, glitches on the credit report due to any number of reasons both accurately and inaccurately, down payments that have not been in the clients’ bank account long enough, etc.So the way to make the strongest offer today is to get “pre-approved”. This happens AFTER all information has been checked and verified. You are actually APPROVED for the loan and the only loose end is the appraisal on the property. This process takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on your situation. It’s VERY POWERFUL and a weapon I recommend all my clients have in their negotiating arsenal.2. Sell Your Property First, Then Buy the House

If you have a house to sell, sell it before selecting a house to buy! Contingency sales aren’t nearly as strong as one that comes in with a ready, willing and able buyer.
Consider this scenario: You’ve found the perfect house – now you have to go make an offer to the seller. You want the seller to reduce the price and wait until you sell your house. The seller figures that this is a risky deal, since he might pass up a buyer who DOESN’T have to sell a house while he’s waiting for you. So he says OK, he’ll do the contingency but it has to be a full price offer! You have now paid more for the house than you could have because of the contingency, and you have to sell your existing house in a hurry! Otherwise you lose the house! So to sell quickly you might take an offer that’s lower than if you had more time. The bottom line is that buying before selling might cost you THOUSANDS of dollars.3. If you’re concerned that there is not a house on the market for you, then go on a window-shopping trip. You can identify possible houses and locations without falling in love with a specific house. If you feel confident after that then put your house on the market.Another tactic is to make the sale “subject to seller finding suitable housing”.Adding this phrase to the listing means that WHEN YOU DO FIND A BUYER, you will have some time to find the new place. If you don’t find anything to your liking, you don’t have to sell your present home.3. Play the Game of Nines

Before house hunting, make a list of things you want in the new place. Then make a list of the things you don’t want.
You can use this list as a guide to rate each property that you see. The one with the biggest score wins! This helps avoid confusion and keeps things in perspective when you’re comparing dozens of homes.When house hunting, keep in mind the difference between “STYLE AND SUBSTANCE”.

The SUBSTANCE are things that cannot be changed such as the location, view, size of lot, noise in the area, school district, and floor plan. The STYLE represents easily changed surface finishes like carpet, wallpaper, color, and window coverings. Buy the house with good SUBSTANCE, because the STYLE can always be changed to match your tastes. I always recommend that you imagine each house as if it were vacant.Consider each house on its underlying merits, not the seller’s decorating skills.4. Don’t Be Pushed Into Any House

Your agent should show you everything available that meets your requirements.
Don’t make a decision on a house until you feel that you’ve seen enough to pick the best one.A decade ago, homes were selling quickly, usually a few days after listing. In that kind of market, agents advised their clients to make an offer ON THE SPOT if they liked the house. That was good advice at the time. Today there isn’t always this urgency, unless a home is drastically underpriced, and you’ll know if it is.

Don’t forget to check into the SCHOOL DISTRICTS of the area you’re considering.
Information is available on every school; such as class sizes, % of students that go on to college, SAT scores, etc. You can get this information from this web site.5.
Stop Calling Ads!

Please note – ads are cometimes created to make the phone ring!
Many of the homes have some drawback that’s not mentioned in the ad, such as traffic noise, power lines, or litigation in the community. What’s not mentioned in the ad is usually more important than what is. For this reason, I want you to be very careful when reading ads. Remember that the person writing the ad is representing the seller and not you! The most important thing you can do is have someone on your side looking out for your best interests. Your own agent will critique the property with an eye towards how well it meets your needs and will point out any drawbacks you should know about. So whether you decide to work with me or not, pick an agent you feel comfortable with and enlist the services of that agent as a buyer’s broker. Then you become a client with all the rights, benefits, and privileges created by this agency relationship, and you’re no longer just a shopper. Did you know that many homes are sold WITHOUT A SIGN ever going up or an AD EVER BEING PUT IN THE PAPER? These “great deals” go to those people who are committed to working with one agent. When an agent hears of a great buy, who do you think he’s going to call? His client, who he has a legal obligation to work hard for you, or someone who just called on the phone and said “keep your eyes open”? So to get the best buy on a property, I always recommend that you hire your own agent and stick with him.Thanks for visiting!

Rose-Marie & Althea
The OC Dream Home Team
View 38,000 properties at Interested in foreclosure properties?
Take one of our Saturday Foreclosure tours!

Want to buy property but don’t know how?
Attend our next First-Time Home-Buyers seminar and learn the trick of the trade!

Call (714) 264-3458 NOW!….  for more information.

What’s up with this property market?

OMG!  I can’t believe the Offers that buyers are submitting!

Rumor has it that John Lansner of the Orange County Register does not own ANY property,  yet he has set himself up to advise an entire County (Orange County, California), as to how to invest in the largest expenditure of a person’s life! YOUR investment and YOUR life!

How is this possible?

Would YOU allow a brain surgeon to operate on your tumor, if he had not done this before?  Would you let him loose, if he did not have an active role in recent brain surgery – no hands-on experience?  Let me see if I can get this right? ……  I have no hands-on experience in fixing a car – I’ve only seen it done by others,  but I will call myself an expert because I can write about it? And then I will derive an income from that writing, despite the fact that people lose money because of my lack of hands-on and current experience?

How can someone who is NOT a property owner, advise an entire County in the ways of property investment, over those who are experiencing the market first-hand on a daily basis and who are not only qualified but tested on the subject?

We received an Offer today of $600,000, on a property that Appraised at $970,000!  $370,000 lower than Appraisal?  THIS is what John Lansner is doing….  he is encouraging buyers to low-ball sellers and you know what is happening?  Sellers are being insulted and rejecting those Offers!

 What we are hearing is “But the Newspaper says that we should……” and our answer is: “And you believe that garbage?  Words written by a person who does not even own his own property?”

Buyers are wasting their time in submitting insulting Offers.  They are wasting the time of their Realtors, too,  who should have better sense than to even submit those ridiculous Offers!

So,  the person leading the troops to the front line, is NOT a General?  In fact he is not even a Private!  And you trust this person to lead you to slaughter?


We have investors who assume that properties are up for foreclosure, purely because those properties have languished on the market for a while.  What gives people the right to make that assumption?  Not all properties are subject to NOD (Notice of Default), Bankcruptcy, Short Sale and Foreclosure.  Sometimes sellers genuinely want to sell their property and ask a fair price for a quality property.  A property that will yield a tenfold profit.

OK,  try this:
The economy is not at its best, right? Supermarket chains are vying for customers to the point where they will try to undercut each other, yes?

The next time you visit your local chain store supermarket,  take a $1 can of beans….  go to the check out counter and offer them .05c and just watch what they do!

Think you’ll get the beans?  I don’ think so!

Yet,  that is what people do with property – the BIGGEST purchase that anyone ever makes in a lifetime!  The security for their future…  their kids college fund ….  their retirement!

Sheesh!  What’s up with THIS picture?

Back to the beans:

You: I’ll offer you .05c for this can of beans.

Supermarket: Um….  the label price is $1.

You: But John Lansner says that I can offer 10% below list price, so I am offering .90.  Now if YOU don’t get paid,  I can take another .03c off the price. 

Supermarket:  But that makes this can of beans .87c, when the shelf price is $1 and why shouldn’t I get paid?  Don’t you get paid for what YOU do?

You:  Of course I get paid, but the market is bad and you don’t deserve to be paid. Well,  since you are not earning anything for the sale,  we think that the distributor shouldn’t earn anything either,  so that’s another .03c off,  making it .84.  What the heck…  the market is so bad right now and beans are not selling,  so let’s take off another .75c.  That brings the ‘worth’ of the can of beans to .09c,  which makes my offer of .05c an attractive Offer!

 Go on….  try that the next time you go shopping and see how it works!  Then ask John Lansner to go shopping with you,  so that he can take the flak that the supermarket lashes out!

See,  it’s all very well to sit in an ivory tower, being paid a salary, whilst issuing useless advice that simply devastates an entire industry and results in buyers making fools of themselves…..  but some of us work in the REAL world.  The REAL world where people still envisage a home – a sanctuary – freedom of tenure and security for our families,  and the John Lansner’s and the Robert Allen’s of this world are not in this for YOUR security…  they are in, it for what’s in it for THEM!

 Don’t be taken in.  Don’t be brain-washed by those who advise you how to buy property, but themselves do not own property!

Deal with a reputable Realtor who works in this market everyday and whose reputation is steeped in the success of past sales to happy clients.

The proof is in the tasting.  Taste only from those who know how to cook, because tasting from one who does not know how to cook, could cost you your life!

Rose-Marie & Althea
The OC Dream Home Team

View 38,000 properties at

 Interested in foreclosure properties?
Take one of our Saturday Foreclosure tours!

Want to buy property but don’t know how?
Attend our next First-Time Home-Buyers seminar and learn the trick of the trade!

Call (714) 264-3458 NOW!….  for more information.

So, where ARE all those foreclosures?

According to the National Press,  foreclosures are abundant and property seekers can pick up a home of their choice for a real ‘deal’!

If this is so,  why are there so many buyers still waiting for property prices to come down?  Why haven’t they already purchased those ‘deals’?

The fact of the matter is that no matter what the Press says,  there are not as many foreclosures as we are led to believe.

“Half the state’s default activity is concentrated in 293 zip codes, almost all of which are in the Inland Empire and Central Valley. Grouped together, those zip codes saw year-over-year home price increases that reached 34.0 percent in first quarter 2005. Prices peaked in third-quarter 2006 at $399,000. Last quarter’s median of $352,250 is 11.7 percent off that peak.

In the 1,172 other zip codes, appreciation peaked in second-quarter 2004 at 25.0 percent. Last quarter’s median of $575,000 was 2.5 percent below the prior quarter’s peak of $590,000.”

SO DESPITE WHAT THE PRESS REPORTS,  ORANGE COUNTY (and in particular, Huntington Beach), IS NOT IN AS BAD A SHAPE AS WE ARE LED TO BELIEVE. One wonders why the Orange County Register paints the whole of Southern California so black, when the whole State’s foreclosures only occurred in 25% of the zip codes!

Let’s understand the foreclosure process:

When a home owner defaults on their mortgage payments,  it can be up to three months before Notice of Default (NOD) is issued.  At this time,  the NOD is to advise the home owner that the lender intends to foreclose – or take back the property, UNLESS the payments are caught up.

At this stage,  the home owner can still put the loan payments right by catching up on default payments, although, once a loan is three months in arrears,  it is very difficult for the home owner to come up with that money (Realistically,  if the home owner had that kind of money,  they probably wouldn’t have defaulted in the first place).

Usually, a property goes from NOD to foreclosed status three weeks after NOD has been issued.  During the NOD period,  it is possible for the home owner to sell the property, in order to avoid foreclosure,  however, many home owners remain in denial and pray that the money will miraculously appear to save their property!

During the NOD period there are five options open to the home owner:

1)  Catch up the arrear payments
2)  Find a really good Realtor to sell the property FAST – this usually involves pricing the property below market value in order to move it quickly,
3)  Send the property to Auction
4)  Sell the property as a Short Sale, or
5)  Allow the property to go to foreclosure.

In the next Blog,  we will discuss the difference between Foreclosure and Short Sales,  but for now,  let’s just say that the situation is not as bleak as the Press makes it seem.  Are there home owners who have to get out from under an ‘upside-down’ loan (where the amount owed is more than the market value of the property)?  Yes!  Are there home owners whose sub-prime mortgage payments have hiked (in some cases they have trebled), causing them financial hardship?  Absolutely!  Are there ways to overcome the adverse effects of losing one’s home?  Very definitely!

The first step in the recovery process is to accept that there is a problem – without this,  the property will most assuredly go to foreclosure.

The mere fact that there are not as many foreclosures as the Press alledges, is evidenced by the fact that there is more than one way to get out from ‘under’.

As consumers, newspaper readers must first accept that when the Press talks about foreclosures,  they are talking about not only foreclosures,  but also NOD’s and Short Sales and all three of these are very different in nature.

More in our next Blog!

Rose-Marie & Althea
(Star Real Estate)

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