Brian's Monthly Real Estate Ne
From Brian Davis
Brian Davis, Keller Williams Tri-Valley Realty / BRE #: 01146612
5994 W. Las Positas, & 459 Main St., Pleasanton, CA, CA 94588
(w) 925.998.3078

Real estate sales end 2011 on positive note

U.S. existing-home sales rose for the third straight month in December, finishing 2011 with a modest over...
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Fannie Mae brings back REO buyer incentives

Fannie Mae is once again offering closing-cost assistance for buyers who close on a home in the mortgage ...
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Winning 'open house' strategies

Public open houses have been a mainstay of the home-sale market for decades. During the peak market years...
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The fight for condo transparency

DEAR BENNY: I live in a 35-unit condominium complex. The homeowners association is incorporated and is le...
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Loan servicers participating in the government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) boosted the number of trial and permanent loan modifications offered to borrowers in November, even as fall... CHECK OUT MORE
Following the lead of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac is expanding its "First Look" program to give buyers who are looking for a home to live in, rather than flip, an opportunity to buy without competition fr... CHECK OUT MORE
Despite a very wet season this past winter, the increase in rainfall didn’t make up for many years of below-average water levels. In 2009 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state o... CHECK OUT MORE
The home-sale market has taken a beating in the last few years, which begs the question: Does it makes sense financially to invest in home improvements?... CHECK OUT MORE
Imagine this. You move into your new home for the first time after closing and, although you transferred the utilities into your name, the lights don't turn on. There isn't a single light bulb left in... CHECK OUT MORE
If you’ve been putting off energy-efficient home upgrades, now may be the time to take on some home improvement projects. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed by Pres... CHECK OUT MORE
You'd think with so many homes for sale, there would be no problem finding one to buy. However, plenty of buyers who would like to buy now to take advantage of low interest rates and prices can't find... CHECK OUT MORE
During the bubble housing market, a price reduction was considered a stigma. This was a time when most listings sold reasonably quickly. A price reduction meant there was probably something wrong with... CHECK OUT MORE
Some experienced investors buy foreclosure properties cheaply without even having seen the property. However, most buyers shouldn't buy a property unless they have had it thoroughly inspected by quali... CHECK OUT MORE
The temptation is strong: Clean up the yard, declutter the house, and put it on the market without spending time and money sprucing the place up for sale. This is especially the case if you anticipate... CHECK OUT MORE
In a partial settlement addressing so-called "robo-signing" foreclosure practices, the nation's largest loan servicers have agreed to hire outside consultants to review foreclosures initiated in 2009 ... CHECK OUT MORE
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has hired a consultant to help it track the performance of vendors it employs to manage, maintain, market and sell foreclosed FHA homes.... CHECK OUT MORE
Location has been touted by housing experts as the most important factor to consider when buying a home. Does this adage still hold, or has price trumped location as the most important consideration?... CHECK OUT MORE
What’s not to love about living in California--eternal sunshine, miles of gorgeous beaches, majestic mountains, and beautiful stretches of desert – this state has something for everyone. With so m... CHECK OUT MORE
Formaldehyde. The word alone recalls memories of the Hurricane Katrina victims housed in FEMA trailers and sickened by the “off-gassing” or vaporization of formaldehyde gas from the plywood and pr... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: My wife and I are in the process of getting a divorce. I am prepared to give her the family home so that our children will not be disrupted any more than they already are. I know that our ... CHECK OUT MORE
Many people want to do a good turn for the environment but simply are overwhelmed by the flood of green data, products and services.... CHECK OUT MORE
If you're thinking it's time to do something about your cold house and your high heating bills, here are five win-win suggestions that will help you do both. 1. REPLACE YOUR FURNACE FILTER A clogg... CHECK OUT MORE
There are many frustrating aspects associated with buying or selling a home today. One is that contract contingencies -- such as inspections, financing or the sale of another property -- often aren't ... CHECK OUT MORE
Just a short time ago, saving the planet took precedence over saving a dollar. Times have changed, but in today’s economy homeowners are still trying to find ways to do both. Just ask John Shipman, ... CHECK OUT MORE
In the current home sale market, it might seem ludicrous to make an offer on a listing if it means competing with another buyer. However, multiple offers are on the rise in some markets. But, it doesn... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: My daughter and her husband-to-be, who are both 21, are trying to buy a house and have put many offers in on various homes. They already are preapproved for the amount they need.... CHECK OUT MORE
Shopping for a mortgage would be a breeze if borrowers paid only an interest rate and lenders paid for everything else, embedding their expenses in the rate.... CHECK OUT MORE
There are obvious decisions that need to be made before embarking on a home purchase. How much can you afford to pay? How much do you feel comfortable paying? Which neighborhoods offer the kinds of ho... CHECK OUT MORE
It may not be the best time to sell, but it might not be the worst either. Recent economic forecasts suggest that the housing recovery could take years. As a seller who has a strong motivation to sell... CHECK OUT MORE
When it comes to drilling holes in concrete, concrete blocks, stone and other masonry, using a standard drill can be a real exercise in futility. The rotary motion of the drill bit -- even a carbide-t... CHECK OUT MORE
Fixer-uppers with upside potential were in high demand when the market was appreciating at a fast pace. Once depreciation took over, speculators disappeared until 2009, when low-end foreclosure proper... CHECK OUT MORE
If you’re a homeowner, it’s a given that you claim the mortgage interest deduction on your tax returns. If you are a green-minded homeowner, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit if you pur... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: I bought a home with my husband in 2002. We are both on the mortgage. When we got divorced in 2006, he bought me out and I signed over the quitclaim deed of the house to him.... CHECK OUT MORE
A spurt in home sales in 2009, aided by low interest rates and the first-time homebuyer tax credit, has led some economists to forecast a turnaround in the housing market this year. Other forecasters ... CHECK OUT MORE
Buyers often assume that if a house is new there's no need to inspect it. What could possibly be wrong with a brand-new house? You'd be surprised.... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: I am sort of handy around the house and was wondering how difficult it is to remove and replace the windows in my house. There seems to be moisture between the double-pane windows now. Any tips? --... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: I am on a mission to buy a home. I've wanted to own a home my entire life, and thought I would miss the opportunity to buy while the market was down, because I had no real savings when the market c... CHECK OUT MORE
Going through the mortgage approval process hasn't been easy these last few years, due to lender tightening and underwriting scrutiny. Aside from requiring mounds of documentation, large down payments... CHECK OUT MORE
There was a time when a price reduction tainted a listing. That was several years ago when listings in many areas sold quickly. At that time, it was assumed that something was wrong with a listing if ... CHECK OUT MORE
HOPE LoanPort, a Web-based portal developed by the HOPE NOW Alliance of loan servicers to streamline the collection of loan modification applications, is catching on with loan servicers and housing co... CHECK OUT MORE
If you're happy with your home and your neighborhood but are craving a little more space, maybe adding on is a better alternative to moving out. Room additions can be a terrific alternative for many h... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: My wife and I own a condo in a two-unit building. Our downstairs neighbor, who bought the property only two years ago, recently put her unit on the market. Her inability to cover her mortg... CHECK OUT MORE
Every seller's dream is to receive offers from more than one buyer. Although multiple offers were scarce last year, in some markets and price ranges listings that are priced right are receiving multip... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: Could you please tell me how linoleum scores in the same categories: virtues, detractions, and resale?... CHECK OUT MORE
Interest rates have been very low for several years, and right now they are lower than ever, yet millions of mortgage borrowers who could profit from a refinance haven't.... CHECK OUT MORE
Earlier this year, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) launched “California REALTORS®. Champions of Home.” a testimonial-based advertising campaign that shows real California home b... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: What is better to buy: a house or a townhouse?... CHECK OUT MORE
Real estate buyers today often turn down a listing because they think it's priced too high relative to the livable square feet it has to offer. In some neighborhoods, like planned unit developments, p... CHECK OUT MORE
Pending home sales were up 13.6 percent in California from December to January, with distressed properties accounting for more than half of pending transactions, according to a new index compiled by t... CHECK OUT MORE
By now, we're probably all familiar with the famous three Ls of real estate: location, location, location. But if you're shopping for a house and limiting yourself to those three Ls, you might be doin... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: Our house is a nondescript 1950s ranch tract home with a light-gray composition shingle roof. It's currently a dated white with blue trim, and we'd like to update the paint job. We're also relandsc... CHECK OUT MORE
With rising energy costs and growing awareness – and availability – of environmentally friendly products, it's no wonder that interest in purchasing green homes is rising. Green remodels on existi... CHECK OUT MORE
For home buyers, real estate professionals, and others who are particularly worried about gas prices, a commute calculator at Cost2Drive.com can help to estimate their costs.... CHECK OUT MORE
Imagine walking into an important job interview looking like you just dragged yourself out of bed. You'd be unlikely to make a good impression and diminish your chance of securing the job.... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: I just wanted to inquire about property taxes relative to the selling price of the home. I have found a property that I am interested in. The price of the home is within my range, but the taxes are... CHECK OUT MORE
Fears that droves of underwater homeowners will walk away from their homes in "strategic defaults" may be overblown, research by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco suggests.... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: You often advise home buyers to refuse to pay junk fees at settlement, but how is it done? We are about to close on a refinance. We have done this once before about eight years ago. We hav... CHECK OUT MORE
To avoid a bad experience that could end up in a legal battle with the sellers over property problems, make sure your purchase agreement includes an inspection contingency.... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: In your opinion, what home improvements (kitchen remodel, new front door, or wood floors) offer the best payback on investment when you are trying to sell?... CHECK OUT MORE
Interest rates dropped at the end of last year after creeping up over the summer, with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with interest rates below 5 percent readily available.... CHECK OUT MORE
A homebuyer in the hills above Oakland, Calif., recently closed on a home that matched her wish list almost perfectly, which is as good as it gets. Before closing, the new home was inspected and no ma... CHECK OUT MORE
Interest rates are low. Prices have come down in many areas. More buyers are deciding it's a good time to buy, even though it may be awhile before the housing market stabilizes.... CHECK OUT MORE
It’s always a good time for pool owners to think about ways to save both money and water. Not only are utility companies offering rebates for “green” upgrades to existing pools, also many states... CHECK OUT MORE
An energetic real estate agent can have your home on the market in a day. However, to provide the kind of marketing exposure you need to sell in today's market takes a little longer, unless your home ... CHECK OUT MORE
The improving job market and economy is helping push mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure starts down, but the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process remains stubbornly high, especially in s... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: I found an affordable house, but my significant other's credit scores are not up to par. What can we do?... CHECK OUT MORE
Find out as much as you can about who you'll be negotiating with before you start the process. Sellers need to know if the buyers are financially qualified to close a deal. Most sellers get hung up on... CHECK OUT MORE
It's an all too common situation. You find a perfect home for sale in an ideal neighborhood. It's been beautifully remodeled, and it has everything you've been searching for. Even the price is right. ... CHECK OUT MORE
Most buyers and sellers share similar frustrations in the current housing market. Buyers look long and hard for the right home to buy, exercising caution to make sure they don't make a mistake that co... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: I recently inherited my mom's home, valued at $136,000. Unfortunately, she had a home equity line of credit (HELOC) on it for $66,000. Apparently, a relative talked her into getting this l... CHECK OUT MORE
Closing costs, the costs associated with buying or selling a home, can add up. It's wise to get an estimate of how much you're likely to pay in closing costs before you make an offer to buy a home or ... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: I am shopping for a new mortgage (I will refinance about $160,000 remaining on a condo worth about $300,000) and discovered my mortgage holder wants about $2,200 in closing costs. I just f... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: I have a shower in my master bath that has had low pressure since we built the home five years ago. I've taken the head off and the pressure is still weak. All the other water sources in the house ... CHECK OUT MORE
Painting is certainly one of the perennial favorite projects for do-it-yourselfers. You can transform a room in just a short time, and perhaps best of all, you need only a few basic tools.... CHECK OUT MORE
Negotiation strategies differ depending on how well the home is priced and who's on the other side. If you're trying to buy a short-sale listing where the lender has to agree to accept less than the a... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: I saw your column that appeared recently in our local paper. One writer asked you what papers he needed to keep on a house he has owned since 1988, including a couple of refinances. That m... CHECK OUT MORE
It has always been important to assemble a top-notch team of real estate professionals to assist you with a home purchase. Today, it's more important than ever.... CHECK OUT MORE
For just about anyone, a home is the single-most expensive and single-most complex thing that you'll ever own. So when making that purchase, you certainly want to do everything possible to be an infor... CHECK OUT MORE
Some sellers have been biding their time for three years and now wonder if they should continue to wait or bite the bullet and sell now.... CHECK OUT MORE
After mustering the emotional energy to make an offer on a listing, it can be devastating if you hear nothing back from the seller.... CHECK OUT MORE
Homes are selling for less. Everyone's trying to cut back. Yet, many real estate agents think it's wise for sellers to provide presale inspections for buyers to review before they write offers. Is the... CHECK OUT MORE
If you look closely at homes with beautiful windows, you'll typically find one thing in common: wood trim. No matter what the style of the window is or what material it's made out of, a painted or sta... CHECK OUT MORE
The wealth created by the housing bubble has been wiped out, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, who spoke at the group's annual conference in Novemb... CHECK OUT MORE
There's not much you can do about keeping a down market from having some impact on the value of your home. But, you can carefully choose the home you buy so that you end up with a property that holds ... CHECK OUT MORE
Convincing a seller to accept an offer that's contingent on the sale of another property can be challenging. The odds of acceptance improve if the offer is structured to the mutual benefit of both buy... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: My daughter made an offer on a house, which the seller accepted, but it is a short sale and now we are waiting for the bank to accept the offer. In the meantime, the seller wants us to get the home... CHECK OUT MORE
By now, nearly five years after the real estate market meltdown began, you'd think virtually no housing consumer has been unaffected. To start, more than 5 million homes have been foreclosed and repos... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: We purchased a large home last year. The property overall was in good condition, with the home being only 10 years old. Now that winter is here, we are finding many areas of exterior paint flaking ... CHECK OUT MORE
In a tight market, preapprovals are needed more than ever to establish the financial bona fides of home purchasers. Unfortunately, preapprovals have also become less reliable, especially for self-empl... CHECK OUT MORE
Imagine taking possession of your newly purchased home and finding that every light bulb has been removed, the place is filthy, and the dining room light fixture that was to have been included in the ... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: My wife and I received from our lender a repayment agreement for our original mortgage. This was a result of the bank initiating a foreclosure sale, which was temporarily suspended because... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: Seven years ago, when my mother was 80, my husband and I purchased cooperative apartment shares in a senior complex for her to live in. Since at least one of the tenants had to be over 55,... CHECK OUT MORE
What is it?... CHECK OUT MORE
In most states, it's customary, or required by law, for the buyers to include a good faith deposit when they make an offer to purchase a home. The deposit should not be given directly to the seller, b... CHECK OUT MORE
Sellers should start packing as soon as they think they might want to put their home on the market. That is, they should start weeding out all the personal property they no longer want or need. It mak... CHECK OUT MORE
Today's buyers are looking for turnkey homes. That is, they want to move right in without having to do a lot of work. Buyers with busy lifestyles pay a premium for listings that are in prime condition... CHECK OUT MORE
House and Senate leaders signed off on a conference report for a "minibus" appropriations bill that included language restoring FHA's ability to insure loans of up to $729,750 in high cost markets thr... CHECK OUT MORE
A mortgage recast is an adjustment in the monthly payment that makes the payment fully amortizing. The recast will be a payment increase when the existing payment is less than fully amortizing, and a ... CHECK OUT MORE
The first step in the home-buying process is to find out what you can afford to pay for a house, condo or co-op. This will depend on the amount of cash you have available for a down payment, your cred... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: What can be done about dogs that bark all the time? I live in a gated development in a homeowners association. The board says they cannot do anything about it, but I don't see how that is ... CHECK OUT MORE
Putting yourself in the right mindset to sell is essential. It's the most difficult aspect of selling for most sellers. Your home is worth what a buyer is willing to pay, which may not be what you thi... CHECK OUT MORE
There’s no doubt about it. California is a great place to live. Eternal sunshine, miles of gorgeous beaches, majestic mountains, and beautiful stretches of desert – this state has something for ev... CHECK OUT MORE
As of Jan. 1, 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required lenders to provide mortgage borrowers with a new three-page Good Faith Estimate (GFE) to protect consumers who are ap... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: I am an 81-year-old widow who bought a townhouse four years ago. There were some odd things going on here so I installed a security system. I have been told that the security sign I have i... CHECK OUT MORE
DEAR BENNY: I am three months behind in my homeowner's association payments. Can the condominium foreclose on my unit? My mortgage payments are up to date, and I called my lender who said no, they can... CHECK OUT MORE
Interest rates are low -- really, really low. And artificially so, as time goes on, the government is slowly allowing some of the programs they imposed to keep rates low -- to encourage buying and a h... CHECK OUT MORE
California has expanded the pool of borrowers who could qualify for three programs aimed at helping families at risk of losing their homes, by making those who tapped their home equity or who took out... CHECK OUT MORE
Q: "My loan officer has told me that on a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), paying $1,000 more each month for 60 months won't generate any savings over paying $60,000 in month 60, just before the in... CHECK OUT MORE
The California Housing Finance Agency is teaming up with the Federal Housing Administration to offer 30-year fixed-rate loans to low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers at below-market rates.... CHECK OUT MORE
Buyers often are reluctant to make an offer to buy a home they find early on in their search. After looking for months and not finding anything comparable, some buyers regret not having moved quickly ... CHECK OUT MORE
If you’d like to have a garden, but think you don’t have the space, think again. Urban gardening techniques are allowing small-space gardening to take root in unlikely places, such as balconies, r... CHECK OUT MORE
If you're thinking of listing your home this spring, now is the time to be thinking about one of the most important elements of real estate marketing: Curb appeal. It's your one and only chance to mak... CHECK OUT MORE
Recently a homeowner in the hills above Oakland, Calif., applied for a refinance. An appraiser visited the property and measured both levels of the house. The appraiser called the homeowner a few days... CHECK OUT MORE
Today's home sales are all about negotiation. Negotiating the purchase price is the first step. A second round of negotiations can occur after the buyers complete their inspections. For sellers who ne... CHECK OUT MORE
Now would seem like a rotten time to sell. The economy is in recession and many housing markets around the country have suffered serious downturns.... CHECK OUT MORE