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By Yeprem P. Davoodian, M.A. | Agent in Encino, CA
  • The Museum of Neon Art Presents the Glendale Neon Cruise

    Posted Under: General Area in Los Angeles, Quality of Life in Los Angeles, In My Neighborhood in Los Angeles  |  April 27, 2013 8:32 PM  |  565 views  |  1 comment


    The Museum of Neon Art Presents the Glendale Neon Cruise


    Co-Sponsored by TGHS


    A fundraiser to help MONA glow to Glendale


    Saturday, April 27

    6:00-10:00 PM


    Tour all that glows in Glendale, Hollywood, and Downtown LA


    6:00-7:00 p.m. -- Pre-tour wine reception catered by Deluca's Deli in the Great Room at the Americana 


    7:00-10:00 p.m. -- Three-hour narrated tour, traveling via double-decker bus through Glendale, L.A.'s historic Broadway Theater District, Chinatown, Hollywood and neighborhoods in-between


    Includes validated free parking.


    Tickets $100


    Tickets may be purchased through MONA or Glendale Arts or by calling (213) 489-9918


    The Glendale Historical Society
    P.O. Box 4173
    Glendale, California 91202

  • Glendale Arts and The Alex Theater

    Posted Under: General Area in Glendale, Agent2Agent in Glendale, In My Neighborhood in Glendale  |  April 27, 2013 8:30 PM  |  563 views  |  1 comment


    Please Join TGHS in Supporting Glendale Arts and The Alex Theater


    The Glendale Historical Society was instrumental in saving the landmark Alex Theatre in the 1990s. Glendale Arts, which operates the Alex Theatre, is conducting its annual "I Heart Glendale Arts" fundraising campaign through May.

    TGHS has set up a fundraising team, and we encourage you to make a donation to Glendale Arts, in any amount, to help ensure that the Alex continues to thrive as a community theatre.
    You can contribute online by clicking here.
    If you prefer U.S. Mail, please send contributions to Glendale Arts, 116 West California, Glendale, CA 91203, noting that you are participating as a member of TGHS.


    Donors of $50 or more will receive a Glendale Arts card, which provides benefits and discounts from a variety of participating businesses and organizations (including TGHS home tour tickets).

    Please consider contributing today.
    Thank you!
    The Glendale Historical Society
    P.O. Box 4173
    Glendale, California 91202
  • Lenders in settlement to make payouts to foreclosed borrowers

    Posted Under: Market Conditions, Agent2Agent, Foreclosure  |  April 21, 2013 1:43 PM  |  464 views  |  1 comment

    Lenders in settlement to make payouts to foreclosed borrowers

    The settlement replaces a failed process in which bank regulators required large mortgage servicers to hire consultants to audit foreclosures for wrongdoing.

    An Arizona home in foreclosure. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

    By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times

    April 9, 2013, 6:18 p.m.

    As part of a settlement with federal regulators, 13 lenders this week are starting to pay out $3.6 billion to more than 4 million troubled borrowers whose homes were in foreclosure proceedings in 2009 and 2010.

    A chart released Tuesday by the regulators showed that most of the borrowers would receive $300, the minimum allowed under the settlement terms. The maximum of $125,000 would go to 1,135 borrowers whose homes were seized while they were serving in the military or who were current on their payments.

    The settlement replaces a failed process in which bank regulators required large mortgage servicers to hire consultants to audit foreclosures for wrongdoing. The process proved so costly and time-consuming that it was called off, and the independent auditors were replaced by the general settlement — a debacle that has drawn criticism from advocacy groups and others.

    "The independent auditors should be asked to return some or half of the $2 billion that they charged to audit for nothing," said Faith Bautista, president of the National Asian American Coalition.

    Bautista, who lost her own home to foreclosure in 2009, called the settlement payments "grossly inadequate."

    The first wave of checks, totaling $1.2 billion, is to be sent Friday, with 90% of the payments to be made by the end of April, according to the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Treasury Department agency that regulates national banks.

    Another wave of payments, to be made after borrowers provide additional information, will go out in mid-July, the Fed and OCC said. The check recipients will total about 4.2 million.

    The agreement is separate from a $26-billion settlement that the five biggest mortgage servicers reached to put an end to foreclosure-abuse investigations by state attorneys general, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    Payments from 11 of the 13 mortgage servicers are to be sent by the end of July. The payment schedule for the other two servicers — Wall Street giants Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — weren't yet available, the regulators said.

    The banks also agreed to provide $5.7 billion in foreclosure-prevention aid as part of the settlement, bringing the total relief to $9.3 billion.

    "We're focused on giving consumers relief as soon as possible," said OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard.

    But critics continued to hammer the agency as the checks went out. Regulators, banks and consultants "botched the whole process," said Sasha Werblin, director of the economic equity program at the Greenlining Institute, a Berkeley advocacy group for lower-income people and neighborhoods.

    Regulators ordered banks to send letters to eligible borrowers at the end of 2011, informing them that they could apply for independent reviews if they were in the foreclosure process in 2009 and 2010. Legal shortcuts, lost paperwork and improper fees were common at that time as banks struggled to handle the enormous wave of delinquencies.

    But response from borrowers was weak, and critics said the letters resembled foreclosure-avoidance scams. The regulators extended the deadline for borrowers to apply for the reviews three times, then started an outreach program last November, using radio public-service announcements and recruiting housing counselors and advocacy groups to spread the word.

    As the response deadline ran out at the end of last year, the banks and regulators hashed out the agreement to make wide-ranging payments, with borrowers who had applied for reviews receiving more than those who had not.

    "Even if you were in foreclosure because you messed up, you still get some money," said Werblin, who blamed the regulators' inside-the-Beltway mentality for contributing to the failed review program.

    "Because of their inability to connect with real people," she said, "we now have this settlement that gives money to people who don't deserve it, and therefore less money for those that do."

    Payments will be handled by an outside firm, Rust Consulting. Borrowers can call Rust at (888) 952-9105 to update their contact information or to verify that they are covered by the agreement.

    Information provided to Rust will be used only for purposes related to the agreement, the regulators said. They warned borrowers to beware of scams and anyone asking them to call a different number or to pay a fee to receive payment under the agreement.

    Accepting a payment will not prevent borrowers from pursuing additional legal action against banks. The servicers are not permitted to ask borrowers to sign a waiver of any legal claims.


  • Housing is back! Best moves for homebuyers

    Posted Under: Market Conditions, Home Buying, Home Selling  |  April 21, 2013 1:41 PM  |  454 views  |  1 comment

    Housing is back! Best moves for homebuyers

    By Beth Braverman @Money April 8, 2013: 4:39 PM ET


    To get an idea of a neighborhood's prospects, ask local brokers if cash-only offers dominate.

    NEW YORK (Money Magazine)

    Six years after prices collapsed, housing has begun to climb out of its hole. So what are the best moves to make now? In a three-part series, we offer smart strategies for buyers, sellers, and owners in today's market.

    Real estate has finally started to bounce back across the country -- even roar back in some places.

    Low mortgage rates and pent-up demand have coaxed buyers back into the market, and homeowners who list their houses are seeing more traffic. That quaint relic of the bubble, the bidding war, has even started to reemerge in some cities.

    Consider the mounting evidence that the long national real estate nightmare is over: During the past year, home prices increased in 92 of the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas, according to data provider CoreLogic, with prices rising as high as 23% in Phoenix and 17% in San Francisco. Sales volume rose in 69 of the top 100 markets, and 35 of those showed double-digit gains.

    Related: Home prices - your local market forecast

    Yet while most economists agree that the bottom is behind us and the five-year outlook for housing is on solid footing, the shorter term is shakier. "Two thousand thirteen and 2014 are going to be transition years," says Mark Fleming, CoreLogic's chief economist. "The market's improving, but it's not totally healed."


    Thinking about buying a home? For the first time in more than half a decade, the economics of the market are working against you in most places.

    Inventory is tight, and bidding wars are back in some parts of the country. To snag your dream home, you'll have to pay up and contend with continuing strict loan requirements. The bright side: Despite rising prices and mortgage rates that are edging upward, buying a home is still cheaper than renting in the majority of the top 100 markets.

    Don't waste time with a low-ball offer.

    Yes, home prices are still way down from their highs, but the days when you could scoop up a house for 20% less than the list price are long gone. The typical home sells for pretty close to what the owners asked for, and even in shaky markets, sellers have gotten more realistic about pricing.

    The median sales-to-list-price ratio in Detroit, for example, is 98%; the national number is 97%. (To find the figure for your market, go to zillow.com/local-info and click on "More metrics.")

    Related: 5 best markets to buy a home

    Here's how to figure out how much to offer initially: In places where homes are still selling below list price but deals are being made in less than two months, come in no more than 2% to 3% below the asking price, says Michael Murphree, a realtor in Birmingham, Ala. Where homes are selling above the listing price, make your first offer the asking price.

    Be the winner in a bidding war.

    In January and February, 73% of agents with broker Redfin said their clients' offers faced rival bids, up from 56% who said so in the fall of 2011.

    You win bidding wars, of course, by raising your price; it also helps to have few contingencies and to move quickly, since today's sellers don't want multiple go-rounds. "You have to give your best offer," says Dallas real estate agent Mary Beth Harrison. "Step up to the plate or walk away."

    Related: Closing on a new home

    Be flexible about closing too: Quick deals -- the median time on the market for homes is 71 days, down from 99 a year ago -- have left many sellers scrambling for alternative housing. Leave the closing date blank on your contract for the seller to fill in, or negotiate a leaseback if the seller needs to stay put for a while.

    Outsmart the pros who bring cash.

    Thinking about investing in a rental property in a downtrodden market before prices there really start to take off?

    To beat out the professional investors who have scooped up houses in these areas by offering all-cash deals, lead with your best offer; investors count on nabbing properties at a big discount and are unlikely to boost their bid by more than 5% to 10%. "They'll just move on to another house," Harrison says. Also include a bank prequalification letter or statement of funds to show that your money is as reliable as investors' cash.

    Assess the risk in your local market.

    Though prices have revived in most areas of the country, they don't all have the same staying power. In markets that bounced back last year merely because prices had fallen so far, you can't assume a continued streak; once investors clear out, demand will die down.

    "In rebounding markets, recent price gains might not last," says Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko. Some near-term value setbacks may not be a problem if you plan to stick around for a long time, but a short time horizon calls for greater caution.

    To get an idea of a neighborhood's prospects, start with the foreclosure rate heat map at RealtyTrac.com (click on "Stats & Trends" at the top). The deeper the color you see, the weaker the market's fundamentals. A broker should also be able to tell you whether cash-only offers dominate -- a sure sign of an investor-driven market.

    Play bankers off one another.

    While it's old news that credit unions and small banks tend to offer lower rates, they also can be less rigid about their underwriting, says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. To obtain your best deal, says Cecala, get a good-faith estimate from one lender (you'll have to shell out for a credit check). Then show the offer to other lenders and ask if they'll beat it.

    Tactics like this will work, he says, because market conditions have changed: "Some lenders want to build up market share and are willing to offer more aggressive pricing than their competitors." In the past two months, he says, a few have sliced their profit margins on loans.

  • Bigger Loans Mean Tougher Requirements

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing  |  April 21, 2013 1:39 PM  |  417 views  |  No comments

    Bigger Loans Mean Tougher Requirements


    Jumbo loans often come in three sizes: small, medium and large. The bigger the loan size, the tougher the lending requirements.

    Izhar Cohen

    At national lender EverBank, a jumbo loan up to $1.5 million requires a 20% down payment and 12 months of reserves, or enough money in liquid accounts to pay the mortgage for a year if something happened to the borrower's cash flow. For a loan of $1.5 million to $2.5 million, buyers are required to make a 30% down payment and have 18 months of cash reserves. Anything above $2.5 million will see thresholds climb to 35% down, with two years of cash reserves.

    Bank of America BAC +1.92% has similar requirements: a 20% down payment for loans up to $1 million; 30% down for a $2.5 million to $5 million loan; and 35% down for $5 million-plus loans.

    The requirements go beyond the buyer's ability to repay the loan. Lenders prefer that luxury-home buyers have larger reserves in case the property ends up in foreclosure, which can be a liability to the bank. "A bigger house is more expensive but it also is more personalized," said Mike McPartland, global head of residential real estate for Citi Private Bank. "You can look at it and say, 'This is exactly what I want.' I could look at the same house and say, 'I sure don't want a pool in my living room.' "

    Location may also play into the lending requirements, said Brad Blackwell, executive vice president, portfolio business manager at Wells Fargo WFC +1.16% Home Mortgage. "We view a $2 million property in Newport Beach, Calif., or Manhattan differently than one in a rural area where it may be hard to sell," he said.

    Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the nation's largest jumbo lender with a volume of about $40 billion in 2012, has more than three tiers. For loans ranging from $417,000 (the jumbo mortgage threshold in most areas of the country) to $2 million, the bank requires a 20% down payment. Above that, each $1 million in the loan amount corresponds to a 5% larger down payment, up to 45% for a $5 million to $6 million loan. If the borrower is incurring debt greater than $6 million, then the required down payment will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, Mr. Blackwell said.

    As for cash reserves, Wells Fargo would like to see 12 months' worth for a loan of $2 million or less; 24 months for $2 million to $4 million and 36 months for $4 million to $6 million. Both EverBank and Wells Fargo require the same credit score, 720, and a debt-income ratio of about 40% to 43%.

    However, lenders generally build some flexibility into the loan tier. EverBank is open to considering mitigating factors to qualify a high-end home-buyer for a mortgage, said Tom Wind, executive vice president of residential and commercial lending. "If you have additional reserves, that's a strong positive," he added. "We could maybe do a bit higher loan-to-down payment ratio at a higher loan amount."

    At Wells Fargo, the guidelines are just that—guidelines—not a hard line to which every borrower must confirm, Mr. Blackwell said. "We are going to take into account the borrower's full financial profile, but with these very large loans, we don't want the borrower taking all of their cash and having no money in the bank in case something goes wrong," he added.

    Citi Private Bank doesn't use tiers at all in its mortgage business; its underwriters evaluate the borrower's credit profile and report, rather than a traditional credit score. However, while each loan qualification is considered individually, a $16 million loan, for example, certainly will require the home buyer to pay a bigger-percentage down payment and have more liquid collateral than a $1 million loan, Mr. McPartland said.

    Some factors to consider:

    • Leverage a relationship. Lenders with tier requirements are more likely to loosen requirements for longtime clients. They can even offer a mortgage-point discount to reduce the loan's interest rate. "We do a lot of loans for customers with strong banking relationships with us," Mr. Blackwell said. "But that's not to say that we don't do a lot of loans with a strong borrower who doesn't have a strong past relationship with Wells Fargo."

    • Identify liquid assets. If a borrower doesn't have sufficient cash reserves to meet tier requirements, sometimes a lender will accept an asset such as stocks that can be liquidated easily.

    • You may want to shop sooner, rather than later.New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules will go into effect in early 2014. While unlikely to affect tier requirements, they will tighten standards for verification of borrower income or assets and make interest-only loans difficult or maybe even impossible for many borrowers to obtain, said Mr. Wind. However, if the borrower's financial profile is secure, private banks may offer other options to wealthy clients, Mr. McPartland said.

  • California Home Prices Hit Highest Level in Five Years

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Home Selling, Agent2Agent  |  April 21, 2013 1:34 PM  |  473 views  |  No comments

    California Home Prices Hit Highest Level in Five Years

    By Francys Vallecillo | April 16, 2013 11:40 AM ET

    Driven by strong sales in high-end coastal areas and shrinking inventory, California's median home price hit its highest level in March since May 2008, according to the California Association of Realtors.  

    The median price for a single-family home increased 13.7 percent to $378,960 in March from $333,380 in a February, after a shift from a previous two-month decline. The month-to-month increase was the highest recorded by C.A.R.  

    Thumbnail image for leslie-appleton-young.jpg

    Leslie Appleton-Young

    The median price in March was 28.2 percent above the $295,630 median price in March 2012 and the 13th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. 

    Higher sales in the coastal areas of Marin, Orange, San Diego, and San Luis Obispo helped push up the median price, C.A.R. vice president and chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young said in a release.

    "Sales of homes priced $500,000 and higher are up more than 34 percent from last year, and have been on a rising trend since early 2012," Mr. Appleton-Young added.

    Palos-Verdes-Los-Angeles-California.jpgCalifornia continues to deal with low home sales caused by a low supply of available homes, an issue that is impacting markets across the U.S.

    Statewide inventory dropped 36 percent from last March and was below three months for the second time in the past few months, CAR reports. "Supply conditions are particularly tight in the lower-priced segment of the market, as inventory for homes priced below $300,000 plunged more than 50 percent from the previous year," C.A.R. president Don Faught said in a release.

    Homes continued to sell faster in March. A house typically stayed on the market 29.4 days in March before selling, down from 34.2 days in February and below the revised 52.2 days for the same period a year ago.
  • Keep Killer Bugs Out of Altadena

    Posted Under: General Area in Pasadena, Agent2Agent in Pasadena, In My Neighborhood in Pasadena  |  April 21, 2013 1:29 PM  |  531 views  |  No comments
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