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Welcome to Joan Weisman, Broker's Blog

By Joan Weisman | Broker in West Los Angeles, CA
  • Real Estate Buying Magic

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Dana Point, Home Buying in Dana Point  |  July 10, 2013 2:36 PM  |  482 views  |  1 comment

    Real Estate Buying Magic

    Behind most spectacular displays of music, art or magic is... mundane, repetitive discipline. Inside a musician's fingers that float and dance along a keyboard are hours, days and years of practice.  Magicians are known for the rigorous practice to make the  impossible look easy. I've been experiencing a kind of magic lately as I've been exercising more since last November. My clothes fit better and I feel better and to friends it looks magic, but I worked for it.

    Buying well in today's real estate market requires a little magic. Fortunately you don't have to practice buying for years to create this kind of real estate magic; in fact you've been living in homes your whole life so you've got a lifetime of practice. Magic in real estate buying today is available to those with crystal clarity about what they want and what is essential in their space and location to make them happy.

    Do you like to move? Most people don't. However, if you buy a house you don't really like because you're desperate to win a bid on any property right now then you're moving now with your future move date already set for as soon as possible. You want to move into this house or condo and know that it gives you exactly what you want and happily see yourself there  for the appropriate future.

    In comes Crystal Clarity: Your Top 3

    There can be a lot of hard work in buying a property these days. Getting out to see properties quickly when they become available, then doing the research and writing offers can eat up your free time.  That hard work is important and will pay off in a new home, but the really important hard work is clarifying your top 3.

    Some people can sit down and discuss what they like in a home, and after conversing for a while their goals and needs are obvious. With other people, it takes some time walking through properties to remember what is truly important. Either way, make a list of everything you want and need in your next house. Your list could look something like:

    Convenient neighborhood
    Walk to park and store
    Large kitchen
    Two car garage
    Bathtub in master bedroom
    And so on.

    It 's ok to spend some time on this first step making the list of everything you would like. Once you have your list the real work begins:

    What 3 items on your list can you NOT live without. What 3 items are essential to your comfort, ease and long-term contentment?

    If you're married you each get a top 3. Often one or two items overlap which makes the shopping easier.

    Now you have a cheat sheet to help find your perfect home

    Or at least a home you will be happy and comfortable living in for years to come. With your top 3 cheat sheet you save time by only pursuing houses or condos that will actually work for you. Also, when a place is a match you can be very aggressive in your offer because you know you're getting what you want.

    I hope this real estate buying magic helps you get a home you'll enjoy for years!

  • Real Estate Prices Have Room to Grow

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Dana Point, Home Buying in Dana Point, Home Selling in Dana Point  |  June 10, 2013 7:05 PM  |  611 views  |  2 comments

    On Saturday June 1 I joined almost 500 other Southern California real estate investors and professionals to listen to Bruce Norris present his most recent real estate market research. If you've never had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Norris, he has successfully predicted the past two changes in the market by gathering and sifting through reams of market data that most of us do not have the time or the man power to access and analyze. His precision and accuracy have created quite a following, and in the room with me on June 1 were many well-established investors as well as a number of people who run their own real estate clubs and teach classes to newer investors. Quite the who's who in real estate.

    The bottom line of Mr. Norris' message: buy buy buy. Interest rates are still astonishingly low. Prices, while climbing steadily, are still greatly reduced. Inventory is also remarkably low, which means there are more buyers than sellers. This competition for available properties drives up the price of each home that sells. While the long term future of the economy and interest rates is uncertain, we are in a time window right now where people who own property could see their values increase dramatically over the next couple of years.

    Don't wait until everyone is buying. As Warren Buffet says: "You should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." Those people who waited until the market was hot hot hot in 2005 and 2006 did not fare as well as those who jumped in early.

    Loans guidelines are still tight, but there are many programs out there including loans with as little as a 3.5% downpayment. That's only $3500 plus costs of your money in to purchase every $100,000 worth of property. 

    Don't take my word for it. Bruce Norris is offering more workshops soon. If you're curious, check it out for yourself.

    If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

  • Buying a Home: How Do I Know What I Want?

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Laguna Hills, Home Buying in Laguna Hills, Home Ownership in Laguna Hills  |  May 30, 2013 3:13 PM  |  401 views  |  1 comment

    Maps help travelers because it makes the unfamiliar manageable. You can go to a city you've only seen on TV, and with the help of a map and a few friendly strangers you can get anywhere you want to go.

    Similarly, creating a "map" or outline of what makes you (and your partner) content/fulfilled/satisfied/happy in a home, living space or neighborhood will ensure that you buy the home you really want.

    I think people often underestimate the importance of feeling good in your home. When you have a comfortable, functional base of operation your whole life is uplifted and supported. What is fantastic is that the perfect home is different for different people.

    You don't want the same vacation as everyone you know, do you? Some people like camping in the mountains while others want to be pampered. Some people want to be stimulated by new, exciting experiences while others simply want to relax and let go.

    Your perfect home is as unique for you as your perfect vacation. For example, some people need bright, airy spaces while others need dark bedrooms for good sleep. Some people like to entertain and need a gourmet kitchen while others want to walk to restaurants and shops. Parents have different priorities than young professionals or retirees.

    What makes you happy in a home?

    I realize that we all work within price restrictions. Believe me, it always looks greener in the next price bracket. What I've found working with buyers is that people who can afford $200,000 dream of places listed for $300,000, but people who can afford $300,000 dream of places listed for $400,000 and people who can afford 3 million dream of houses for 5 million and so on. We always want more than we have, the trick is to get what we want for what we can afford.

    I help buyers find their perfect place by sitting down before we start looking. At this point they will already have spoken with a mortgage broker and understand their buying power.

    What is important in this first conversation is to speak to each adult individually and to get them to really see, hear, feel and share what is essential to them in their home.

    Magic questions include: What is most important to you about [location, condition, layout, yard, size, your new home]. What have you loved most about other places you've lived? What do you want in this home that you've never had before now? What would make your life easier in the [location, condition, size, your new home]?

    It's nice to spend some time brainstorming to allow the buyers to really process their best and desired home experiences. Then, it's time to narrow the list to the TOP 3. Each adult gets their TOP 3, the 3 things they must have in their new home.

    Once you've got this short list of what's important you've got your map you're ready to look at homes for sale in your price range.

    You can refine your list over time. Maps evolve and are redrawn over time as the landscape changes. Seeing a few available properties may spark new ideas or refinements. As long as the list is maximum of 3 musts and 2 nice-to-haves it will be a powerful shopping tool.

    Sometimes people walk into a home and romanticize it. Perhaps a feature reminds you of a home you loved, or maybe the home has a breathtaking view and you see it and you want it; the Top 3 list allows you stay clear, focused and get what you want. If it doesn't have 1,2, and 3 -- move on.

    Right now there are more buyers than houses for sale, so you have to edge out other buyers to win your property. A buyer with a Top 3 map can act faster and more aggressively than other buyers because they recognize a match when they find one.

    Buying a Home? Start by mapping out your Top 3 must haves so you get the home you really want.


  • Just Buy! Just Buy!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Dana Point, Home Buying in Dana Point, Rent vs Buy in Dana Point  |  April 1, 2013 3:23 PM  |  394 views  |  No comments

    I am by nature a cautious person. Not risk-averse by any means, but definitely measured and cautious (which I believe contributes to my excellence as a real estate Broker). Why do you care? Because I'm cautious enough that I take the following recommendation very seriously:
    If you've been on the fence about getting into the real estate market. Now is the time. If you've been thinking about buying: just buy! Just Buy!

    Interest rates are SO LOW, STILL. Property prices in Southern California (and many other areas) is slowly -- but steadily -- going up.

    ALWAYS do your due diligence. Inspect your potential property thoroughly. Listen to your inspector if he warns you about any important systems (foundation, plumbing, electrical, heat, roof, drainage). FOCUS on what YOU want in your new place. I advise buyers to each pick their top three must haves. Things like big windows or a dark bedroom, a fireplace or washer/dryer inside, or maybe a gourmet kitchen or a large enclosed yard or walking distance to the kid's school. Where you live is a big deal in your life. It's worth getting those things that really make your life easier/happier/better. Then, be flexible on the rest of it. Let the Universe or the Housing Market deliver to you the best available option that meets your musts.

    Know what properties have sold recently in any neighborhood where you make an offer, but don't quibble too much on the price. I've seen properties going for from 5% to 40% above asking price. You're not the only one following through on your good idea of buying in this market! A fixed interest rate under 4% for the next 30 years! Are you kidding me? History would indicate that in a few years that interest rate is going to seem amazingly, wonderfully low. If prices keep moving as they have been, so will the value you paid for the house you're deciding to buy right now.

    Don't miss out! Buy something you love and buy it today!

    This information is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.

  • Affordability is Fueling an Increase in Demand

    Posted Under: Market Conditions, Home Buying, Rent vs Buy  |  April 9, 2012 5:26 PM  |  217 views  |  No comments

    The Orange County Association of Realtors (OCAR) published an eye-opening article on affordability in this month's issue of Orange County Realtor.

    Houses are more affordable today than they've been for 13 years. Let me show you what I mean.

    In 1999 the median sales price for a detached single family home in Orange County was $280,900. Interest rates back then averaged at 7.4%, so the payment for that home was $1945.

    Payments went up steadily from there. In 2002 (only 3 years later) it cost $2560 per month to buy that same home.

    In 2006 and 2007 that number was $4461 and $4392, respectively. This for a house that was 7-8 years younger and over $2300 cheaper in 1999.

    Last year in 2011 the monthly payment for that home was $2399.

    Because interest rates are so low (for now), and because of the price dip real estate has seen, houses in 2012 are Actually close to 1999 affordability.

    According to OCAR, this year the median sales price of an OC home is $449,000. That is 59.8% MORE dollars than in 1999. However, with an average interest rate of 3.9% (get it while you can!) the payment on that $449,000 home is a mere $173 more a month at $2118.

    So many buyer's today are looking for a "deal". In fact, home affordability may be the "deal" they have been waiting for. Buying right now may be the "deal" everyone wished they got in on.

    According to the Orange County Realtor, the 2012 UCLA Anderson Forecast says that mortgage interest rates will rise to an average of 7.3% within a couple of years. At today's prices, that would increase the monthly mortgage payment to $3078, or by almost $1000.

    Would you like to save $1000 a month?

    If you're interested in buying in Orange County give me a call.

  • Lowest Payments in Over a Decade

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Laguna Niguel, Home Buying in Laguna Niguel, Property Q&A in Laguna Niguel  |  August 15, 2011 2:14 PM  |  374 views  |  No comments

    For those people who want to own their own home, the best real estate scenario for yourself and your family is to buy at or near the bottom or the market and to have a low, fixed interest rate so your housing payment is affordable and consistent.

    Wait a second! That is exactly what is available right now! Right now in Southern California prices are almost as low as they were 20 years ago. Interest rates are at a 50 year low.

    It is true that the home mortgages out there are hard to get, and qualifying may become more difficult before it gets easier. However for those people with good credit and some savings, now is the time to get out there and buy buy buy property.

    The safest buy you can make is one that generates cash flow at the purchase price. That means that mortgage, taxes, insurance and a reserve for maintenance and repairs all add up to less than the market monthly rent. This equation is available in many though not all areas.

    Many, many people these days don't have good credit due to a short sale or a foreclosed home. Don't feel like you cannot participate in this opportunity because you cannot get a traditional loan right now. There are short term options like rent-to-buy or even hard money loans that can help rebuild your credit while you build towards a traditional loan.

    Right now through the next couple of years could be the best time to buy real estate in decades. If you've been thinking about it, get qualified with a lender and start looking at property today.

  • Don't Miss Today's Real Estate Opportunities Dreaming About Tomorrow's Prices

    Posted Under: General Area in Laguna Niguel, Market Conditions in Laguna Niguel, Home Buying in Laguna Niguel  |  July 14, 2011 3:23 PM  |  257 views  |  1 comment

    If you are buying a house or condo in today’s market, steer clear of the frenzy for a deal. Prices have been on a downward trend and instead of using market research to support offers, some buyers are betting on the trend and offering much lower than market.

    I have to admit there is a fine line in today's real estate market, because some properties are priced too high. If a for sale price is higher than the recent comparable sold properties, a seller should be open to offers that line up with the recent sold properties in that area, adjusted of course for condition, location, lot and style.  

    However, I'm noticing buyers writing offers that are much lower than the recent comparable sales prices. For the most part this is a waste of time. It is true that if you write a huge number of below market offers you will eventually find a seller who is tired enough or desperate enough to take your low offer. However, if you are shopping for a single home or condo that will be your primary residence, buying below market is less important than getting the property you want where you want it.

    Rather than focusing on getting a rock bottom price, remember how much this property was worth 5 years ago. In many cases in Southern California, it was close to double what it is worth today. Right now is an amazing time to buy. Plus, you can lock in a low interest rate that may be impossible to find 10 years from now. Imagine how fun that will be to talk about over cocktails.

    If you're buying in today's market, know what you want and have done your research: Make a fair deal with the seller; it's still a great deal for you.

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