Call: (916) 712-4255

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Farewell... For Now At Least!

I have been meaning to write this for a while, but it keeps getting put off. The reasons are obvious - my focus today is on my family - my husband and raising my two wonderful little pre-schoolers.

So, although I do still have a broker's license to sell real estate in the greater Sacramento area, I am currently not selling real estate.

To my readers, thank you for reading and visiting this blog. To all the companies I worked at during my real estate career, it was so much fun. Thank you.

I'll see you around!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Last Day for Federal Tax Credit

Obviously, this is not news to many home buyers but those of you wanting to get that federal tax credit with offers that are already out there should get the sellers to respond to your offer and create a binding contract by the end of the day today. A "binding contract" does not mean just an offer. It is imperative that you receive both the buyer and seller's signatures on the contract form and that the acceptance of the seller is conveyed to the buyers. It is only when acceptance is conveyed that a binding contract is created.

This is what the California Association of Realtors has to say about it:

This is the final day for home buyers to enter a binding contract to take advantage of the federal tax credits for certain home buyers. Eligible purchasers must enter contract by April 30 and close escrow before July 1 to claim the tax credits on their federal tax returns. A one-year extension may be available for members of the military and other federal employees who served on official duty outside the U.S. for at least 90 days from January 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010.

First-time buyers may be eligible for up to $8,000, while existing homeowners may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500. Neither credit requires repayment if buyers live in the residence for three or more years.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Military Families Get Extended Housing Tax Credit

Home buyers today are very aware that time is running out for the purchase of a new home - in fact the last few days of the month of April are probably going to be fraught with stress with many home buyers and Realtors alike because unless they are able to get into a binding contract by April 30, the federal tax credit will be lost. But military families do not need to rush. Their deadline for the federal home buyer's tax credit is April 30, 2011. April 30th is the last date to enter into a binding contract and the deadline to close a purchase transaction is June 30, 2011.

This includes military personnel, members of the Foreign Service and employees of the intelligence community. The extension applies to any individual and if married to the individual's spouse who serves on qualified official extended duty service outside the United States for at least 90 days during the period of December 31, 2008 and May 1, 2010.

All other home buyers must be under contract by April 30, 2010 and close by June 30, 2010 to qualify for the federal tax credit.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Law about Lead Based Paint

If you're renovating an existing home built before 1978, you should know that a new law is now in effect regarding who can work on the remodel. According to this law, renovations that disturb lead-based paint in older residential dwellings and child-occupied facilities must generally comply with the Lead-Based Paint Renovation Rule of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA had made this rule in 2008 but delayed implementing it until now. It is now in effect since April 22, 2010. The rule applies to building contractors, handymen, residential landlords, property managers, and anyone else who is paid to perform renovations or to direct workers to perform renovations as specified. The lead renovation rule does not apply to homeowners renovating the homes they live in. However, sellers of target housing must, among other things, disclose to their buyers any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards as always.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Home Owners Garden Ideas

As someone who remembers the allure the unplanted backyard presents to a new homeowner, I wanted to write a blog post about what does well in the Sacramento garden. In our first home we thought we had hit the jackpot when we were able to grow a few things, but the careful application of the gardening principles we learned then have made many such gardens elsewhere. So if you are a new homeowner in Sacramento or have just relocated from another city, or even another state, here's what grows extremely well. By experience.

Tomatoes. Well, this should have been obvious, or will soon become obvious when you're driving around on Highway 5 and see truckloads of tomatoes being transported around. Tomatoes are easiest vegetables to grow and The Home Depot lately has also been selling tomato cages which makes them even easier to grow because they need support. Just find a sunny spot in your garden and plot a vegetable garden with plenty of tomatoes. You won't be disappointed. Just make sure you water, water, water. Tomatoes like their feet in water and head in the sun, so to speak.

Okay, so you're not a vegetable person. Maybe you want flowers. If you want something that is very lot maintenance and just want something pretty to look at that makes your heart sing but don't want to commit yourself to it year after year, consider some morning glory seeds. They grow instantly, grow fast and they are the prettiest flowers you can imagine. My favorites are the blue ones that become purple in the summer. Plant along a fence and watch them grow.

Next time I'll have some more flower and tree advice for relocated homeowners!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No More State Tax on Forgiven Real Estate Debt

This just in - Distressed homeowners no longer have to pay California state income tax on debt forgiven in a short sale, foreclosure, or loan modification. Enacted into law yesterday, Senate Bill 401 generally aligns California's tax treatment of mortgage debt relief income with federal law. For debt forgiven on a loan secured by a "qualified principal residence," borrowers will now be exempt from both federal and state income tax consequences. The existing federal exemption is for indebtedness up to $2 million, whereas the new California exemption is for indebtedness up to $800,000 and forgiven debt up to $500,000.

"Qualified principal residence" indebtedness is defined as debt incurred in acquiring, constructing, or substantially improving a principal residence. It includes both first and second trust deeds. It also includes a refinance loan to the extent the funds were used to payoff a previous loan that would have qualified.

The tax breaks apply to debts discharged from 2009 through 2012. Californians who have already filed their 2009 tax returns may claim the exemption by filing a Form 540X amendment.

Taxpayers who do not qualify for the above exemptions (e.g., second home or rental property) may nevertheless be exempt under other provisions. Most notably, taxpayers who are bankrupt are exempt from debt relief income tax. Also, taxpayers who are insolvent are exempt from debt relief income tax to the extent their current liabilities exceed current assets.

Information from CAR Legal.

Monday, April 12, 2010

These are Days I'm Happy to be Broker!

Our agent at Elite Properties Mike Keleshian just received this letter of thanks from his recent clients.

And boy am I proud of him! You can reach him directly at 916-997-4086.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Short Sellers & Loan Modification Receivers - Be Careful!

This might be old real estate news, but I'm repeating here because it's so important. However, please keep in mind that you should always consult your tax professional before you take my word here regarding your specific tax situation. So that being said, as you've probably already been told, the IRS does not tax you on the difference in your principal for forgiven mortgage debt either through your short sale or a loan modification. You might still receive a 1099 showing that the loan company has reported it and you do have to report it on your taxes.

However, California state laws still require you to pay taxes on the difference, and it is definitely something to keep in mind not just at tax time but also during the process of applying for a loan modification. It's a sad situation that when you're already stretched that you have to consider that the state still requires taxes, but at least it might help to know that beforehand.

This is how the California Association of Realtors reported it:

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have prevented California homeowners who sold their homes via short sales or received loan modifications in 2009 from being taxed on the forgiven mortgage debt. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, which would have aligned much of the state’s tax code with that of the federal government’s, because it contained an unrelated provision regarding tax refunds for the state’s largest businesses. Although the governor vetoed this particular bill, he expressed his support for banning taxation of forgiven mortgage debt, and immediately called for the legislature to send him a bill to provide tax forgiveness prior to the April 15 tax-filing deadline.

So be sure to go over your financial situation with a fine-toothed comb before making at decisions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

National Housing Survey Findings

Fannie Mae recently conducted a housing survey and it seems that homeownership in the long term at least will never die. Nevertheless, the findings were interesting to note. I'm including just a few things that struck me and that might interest you to read. For the entire study and other details, visit Fannie Mae.

Just 31 percent of responders felt that the economy was on the right track but 44 percent expected their personal financial situation to improve in the next year. Renters are more optimistic about their personal finances (56 percent) than mortgage holders or owners. Delinquent borrowers are even more optimistic about the future, with 63 percent expecting they will be in a stronger financial position in the next year.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of survey respondents prefer owning to renting. Respondents cited non-financial reasons such as safety (43 percent) and quality of local schools (33 percent) as driving factors in wanting to own a home, ahead of economic considerations.

With reference to specific mortgage choices, nine out of ten respondents are satisfied with the features of their current mortgage. But Americans with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are significantly more satisfied than those with other types of mortgages. (This, by the way, I have experienced anecdotally as well. Even though most investment-type people will tell you that you can save a lot more in interest otherwise, I believe peace of mind in knowing next month's and next year's mortgage amount makes a big difference. Anyway, just one Realtor's opinion.)

Americans are split on whether banks should foreclose if the owners are unable to paytheir mortgage: forty-eight percent of respondents say yes; forty-three percent say no.

For the entire survey, you can go here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Last Month for First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

That's right. This is officially the last month for the first-time homebuyer tax credit. Although the state has extended it in the past, as far as we know as things stand today, the home buyer has to have entered into a written binding agreement (contract) by April 30, 2010.

The written binding contract however might need some clarification - this does not mean submitted an offer, since an offer is not a contract. Those of you who are looking actively for a home and intend to close on a house and use this tax credit should hurry. It's not necessary to panic of course but do keep in mind that if you are looking for a home in which a bank is involved on the seller's side either through a short sale or a bank sale that they will take time. So do your shopping and don't take too long and waste time. If you are not in contract by the end of this month, you could lose your intended tax credit. "In contract" means that you have an accepted contract in escrow with all signatures on all eight pages. Yes, then. Only then is it considered binding.

You must close escrow by June 30th to avail of this homebuyer credit which is 10% of the purchase price not to exceed $8,000. No repayment is required if the buyer owns and occupies the home for at least 36 months after purchase.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Real Estate Finds in Fair Oaks

Remember a time when there were no homes on the market that came even close to under $200,000 for a three bedrooms? I was meeting with a friend yesterday and she mentioned that on one of her walks she noticed "very pretty homes" (her words, not mine) around Fair Oaks, where she and her husband intend to buy a home someday. So I decided to look it up.

And here are some great real estate finds in the area for under $200,000.

Fair Oaks in the zip code 95628 has older established neighborhoods with homes approximately thirty years old. Many of these homes have been occupied by one or two owners, and bought new. Its proximity to highways 50 and 80 make it a good central location with plenty of businesses nearby. If you can tolerate the perpetual (it seems) construction on Hazel, you might find some real jewels in the area. Take a drive. Or better, a walk. I love looking at homes on a walk; don't you?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Welcome Back, Real Estate Mama!

Whoa! What a time it's been. A whirlwind of a year since I've written seriously on this blog. You would think I would have realized that babies take time, but no. In our usual unbridled optimism, my husband and I have had two children and some major restructuring. But don't leave this page without getting a look at all this cuteness. Go on, look:

That's the youngest addition.

So now you know what I've been doing with my time and my brain, full of baby stuff has not been on real estate like it should. However, here it is - April is here! And that brings with it spring and home buyers. Even though this week is supposed to be rainy we should see some increase in activity soon. And you will hear all about it right here!

If you've been keeping up with the market updates I've been posting on the main Elite Properties blog over at you probably know that sales are down all over Sacramento county and that prices are stagnant or rising very slowly in some local areas, a sign of potential recovery. I do however want to write about short sales which could nip this recovery in the bud - the inventory is huge. But more on that in another post.

For now, Happy April! And I look forward to seeing you here more often. If you've just landed on this page, feel free to call me directly for assistance or fill out my contact form and I'll get someone over to help you in your real estate transaction as soon as I can!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Real Estate Market Report for Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer County

I'm sure you're shuttling back and forth now reading market reports over at Sacramento Home as well as here, but I thought to get an overall idea of the real estate market, I would put up the statistics for all three counties combined right here. 2233 homes sold this August in the tri-county area as compared with 2630 last August. This points to a unit volume drop of 15.1% year over year. The hardest hit seem to be foreclosure sales with a 37.4% drop! Short sales in the meanwhile seem to be filling the gap with a 63.7% increase year over year. Non-distressed sales have remained mostly unchanged year over year with a 5.4% increase. Still, the overall market looks healthier with 37.4% of all sales now being non-distressed as compared with 30.2% last August.

Average sold price per square foot is now $127.69, down 15% from last August's $150.34. Average sales price rests at $226,416 also down 15.1% year over year from a high of $266,563. Median sales price in the tri-county area is currently $201,000. That's down 14.5% from $235,000 last August.

Inventory is at 4.1 months regardless of whether you're looking at the last year of sales or the last six months. Foreclosure inventory is hovering around the 0.6 month mark. Short sales have gained traction in the last few months but they still have a long way to go with 15.6 months of inventory based on the last 12 months of sales and 13.5 months based on the last six months.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Foothill Farms Real Estate Market Update: July 2009

When home buyers are looking for a nice little community to live in close to the highway with solidly built homes with an old-world charm, they usually begin their search in the Foothill Farms area. There haven't been enough real estate buyers however to keep sales buoyed this month. Overall unit volume fell by 40% year over year in the neighborhood and the biggest drop was seen in foreclosure sales. REOs fell by 68% year over year from 53 homes sold last July to just 17 this July. Also, they went from being 88% of all sales to just a little over 47% of all sales. Short sales gained by 125% and non-distressed sales by 233% year over year. Distress sales now make up 72% of all real estate sales in the area.

Average sold price per square foot now rests at $103.37 which is 12.2% lower than last July's average of $117.71. Home buyers thus afforded themselves homes on average 9% bigger than they did last July. Average sales price in Foothill Farms is now $132,882 - 4.2% under last July's price of $138,755. Median sales price is at $134,000.

Inventory in Antelope is at 2.8 months based on the last year of sales and 3.2 months based on the last six months of sales. Foreclosure inventory is at 0.6 months and 0.8 months respectively. Short sale inventory is at 11.7 months and 11.5 months respectively.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Land Park Real Estate Market Update: July 2009

Hey, welcome back! Since this blog is now part of the family of blogs of Elite Properties, you can now hope to read market updates as well as "ask the Realtor" type of articles along with some real estate quotes and trivia. Today we have a market update for Land Park for the month of July. (Statistics are available for the previous month when we update our database around the fifth of each month.)

Anyway, on to Land Park!

This has been a pretty impressive month for real estate in the Land Park community with unit volume up 108% year over year. 27 homes sold in the area and just 4 of them were foreclosures. None of the 17 short sales on the market sold but home buyers renewed their interest in non-distressed properties with a whopping 23 selling in the month of July.

Average price per square foot is now $257.41, which is a 17.8% drop year over year from a high of $313.20. The average home sold for $384,867 this July which is 4.3% lower than it sold for last July when average price was $402,146. Median sales price rests at $370,000 - 2.8% higher than last July's $360,000. However, keep in mind that the average home sold this July was also 16.4% larger than last July so the numbers can seem a little skewed. The most accurate measure here is the average price per square foot.

Inventory is at 4.8 months based on the last year of sales and 4.4 months based on the last six months of sales. Foreclosure inventory is at 0.4 months.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dead? Not Quite Yet.

I've been giving a lot of thought to where this blog is headed. Yeah, I guess you can tell by the fact that there haven't been any posts up lately. No, I haven't given up blogging. And no, I haven't given up selling real estate either. And yes, I still believe real estate can be a very strong investment. I would however temper and moderate that statement by saying you must have reserves to protect that investment.

But more to the point has been the concern that this real estate blog hasn't received the kind of attention lately that I would have liked to give it. As most of you know, my writing has been mainly over at Sacramento Home, the official company blog of Elite Properties. And between writing that and reviewing files for the company and taking care of my one year old (yes, she's officially a whole year old, believe it or not!) I've had my hands full. How in the world do people find time to juggle so much, I wonder sometimes looking at other brokers who have a post a day.

So, this is where this blog is going: I've made the decision that it's going to be another of Elite Properties' company blogs. You know we have Sacramento Home and Roseville Homes and Land and now we're adding Sacramento Real Estate Gal into the mix. What does this mean to you? Just that besides writing more here, I'll be adding more market updates and "ask the broker" kind of posts. And if you love reading them at the other blogs, chances are you'll enjoy them here as well!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Been a While...

Well, hello! It has been a while and I'm happy to see you're back here. What can I say? Life got in the way of blogging... but you can see my market updates every day almost at Sacramento Home, so if you miss me, just hop over there and take a look!

So, the latest on the Sacramento real estate scene? I wish it was the same old, same old. I really wish it was something. Lately though the market seems to have gotten so lackadaisical that it refuses to get people (homebuyers and homesellers alike) interested in it. Even tenants seem to have trouble hanging on. We should know. Our tenants have decided to move out - get this - after fifteen days in the new home. Something between the husband and wife. And relatives. But they weren't on a lease, so what can we do? Just say okay. End of next month you're free to go.

Hmmm... this is going to be a looong summer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rent Slashed!!! Open House this Saturday 11 to 1!

If you have been a regular visitor to this website, you should know that I have a rental home in Colonial Village that is looking for a tenant. Our last tenants were great - lived there for almost two years and we miss them.

Anyway, if you're interested, here's a link to the 3 bedroom 1 bath home in excellent condition. It's ready to move in now! So call me or email me for more information and to schedule a showing.

Also, I should mention that if your home has been foreclosed, we will still consider you as tenants if everything else on your credit report looks sound. We understand the financial hardships homeowners have been going through and will not hold a foreclosure against you if everything else looks okay.

For more information about this rental, you can reach me at 916-712-4255

Friday, May 29, 2009

Yes, We're Still Selling Homes!

As Realtors and brokers cut down massively on their advertising budgets lately, our clients are beginning to wonder if we're still selling homes. Mention to someone that I'm a real estate broker and the look on their face changes. "How IS the real estate market?" is always the next question.

Look, it isn't a great market if you're a seller or a homeowner. I know. I have checked comps on my houses and I don't want to see them for a long, long time. But then, my brother isn't interested in looking at his stock portfolio either. For now. And he's a CPA and a very savvy investor. No one's happy right now.

Oh wait, did I say no one? I'll tell you who's happy. Home buyers are happy. They're more than that - they're ecstatic. And they should be. One look at our tenants' faces when they just bought the house of their dreams could tell you their story. And yes, they deserve it. Excellent care and not one month of missed payments.

So yes, if you're a homebuyer, wipe the worried look off your face. You're going to be just fine. And quit asking how the market's doing. We're still here. We're still selling homes! And it's a great time to buy!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Real Estate Article Worth Reading

At a time when real estate prices have plunged - farther down than most people anticipated - it might seem like a good idea to just get rid of the mortgage payment. A disinclination to be in any kind of debt is one of the goals of most people but you might want to read this article before you get too hasty with paying off that mortgage. Then decide for yourself if it's really, really that high on your list of priorities.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Forget real estate, look towards men's underwear!

This one gave me my first laugh of the day, so I'm sharing it here. Those of you who are homeowners might find this interesting. As we know, it isn't the homebuyers or even the home sellers and potential home sellers looking for signs of the market recovering. Home sellers and home owners believe the market will look much, much better in the coming six months. (Whether this means they will put their homes up for sale has to yet be seen.) The Sacramento Bee has already reported that median sale prices of real estate are beginning to stabilize in Sacramento.

But if you want to know the real state of the economy, forget real estate! Says Michael Brush of MSN Money, look towards men's underwear. Since they're not easily seen (thank God!) most men put off buying underwear during a recession. And that can give you a clue as to where the economy is headed.

Interesting read.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's Here!

If you're a novice real estate investor, the market is great for being a landlord or jumping into investment property. But, do you know the landmines to avoid? No? Then, pick up my book "Landlord Landmines." Available NOW at Amazon!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Foreclosure Alternatives Program Details Announced

The California Association of Realtors has just sent out news that new details have been announced under the Foreclosure Alternatives Program. According to the CAR email, the program "requires that prior to proceeding with a foreclosure, servicers must determine if a short sale is appropriate." The program is in place until 2012.

Incentives to lenders in this program include:
- $1,000 for servicers for successful completion of a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure
- $1,500 for borrowers/homeowners to help with relocation expenses
- up to $1,000 toward the cost of paying junior lien holders to release their liens

As we have seen in the market updates, it is the short sale inventory that worries everyone and could hurt the return of a normal real estate market. If this program works, it could just be the answer. It's too soon to tell, however.

The FAP also claims straightforward and streamlined documents and procedures in dealing with short sales.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Watch that real estate inventory!

The Sacramento Bee has today reported that inventory in the Sacramento real estate market is down to 2005 levels. After the peak in listed homes in 2007, inventory has been declining over the last 20 months. We have already been covering these market updates at the company website, so it's no surprise to us.

Could this be a recovery or the beginning of a recovery? REO listing agents don't believe so because they expect more bank-owned homes to be listed beginning June 1st. Banks don't want to flood the market with REOs all at once because the price drops will be scary. So with banks not listing REOs and individual sellers not willing to sell if they have to, inventory has shrunk quite a bit lately.

We'll just have to see what happens in June to get a better picture.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I love my job!

At the risk of sounding like I'm tooting my own horn (a little too loudly!) I want you to read this post on Sacramento-Home recently about me taking over as broker of record.

I love my job. Oh wait, did I say that already?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

For Sale by Owner?

I came across this while surfing the internet. Thought it was worth a smile on a Monday morning. Check it out!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Want a Recovery? Look after the Investors!

I came across an excellent article on Yahoo today that brings up the all-important real estate investor and his role in a potential real estate recovery. I couldn't agree more with what the writer, Bob Hunt, says. Go ahead and read the entire article to see if this makes sense. He brings up a valid point in that most sales today are in the lower range of prices. If there were some way to attract not just the homeowners but the investors into the real estate market, the scene might look very different a few years from today.

Unfortunately real estate investors don't get the respect they deserve. We seem to be lumped in with "real estate developers" and "big business" or "those rich people that kill small business." Most real estate investors I know are middle-class hardworking people that just want to save enough for retirement. Maybe we need an image overhaul!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Real Estate Quote of the Month

The Englishman, hidden behind his hedge or wall, is not interested in his neighbor’s house, and the idea of wanting to read about houses bought, sold, or built by total strangers is not even funny; it is merely absurd.... But to an American, it is not only important, it is comforting, it is gratifying that other people are improving your home town; even people who have no personal economic stake in the rise of real-estate values feel the same kind of interest that makes a motherly woman smile with genuine amiability on the children of total strangers. The very linguistic difference between “house” and “home” is significant. All Americans who live in houses, not apartments, live in homes; the Englishman lives in his home but all his neighbors live in houses or flats.

D. W. Brogan in The American Character.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A real estate recovery for Sacramento?

Those of you who follow the real estate market updates I write over at the Elite Properties company blog already know that some areas in Sacramento have hit bottom and have already begun the recovery. But Sacramento real estate as a whole seems to be taking a while.

This article published today suggests mixed information but it's worth a read.

Monday, May 4, 2009

REO Buyers May Pick Title Company

If you're a homebuyer in today's market, the deeply discounted real estate is definitely there. But if you're distressed by the fact that sometimes the bank wants to call all the shots and you seem to be playing only their game, this news might comfort you a little.

The California Association of Realtors claims that "new language" in AB 957 - Choice of Escrow Bill - "protects fair negotiation over settlement services" like title and escrow providers. So basically, if the seller wants to pick a specific title company they will have to cover title and escrow expenses.

So if you're a homebuyer out there, don't assume you cannot pick title and escrow companies. The new bill claims to impose new penalties on banks who violate this law.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I'm very excited to announce that as of Monday May 4th 2009 I am taking the position of Broker of Record at Elite Properties. Having worked at three different brokerages over my real estate career, I believe at Elite Properties I have found my niche, as have our other agents that continue to do a fantastic job for our clients in spite of the pressures of this very different real estate market.

Elite Properties has always carved its own space out of the mass of other real estate brokerages out there. Our agents are hard-working, detail-oriented and provide exceptional service. Our competitive advantage has been and will continue to be giving the clients information about choices that affect them so that they can make an informed decision.

I am honored to be part of this team of self motivated and strong individuals and hope you will continue to come back to us with your real estate needs year after year.

Thank you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good News in Real Estate?

Maybe! Read all about it here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Carnival of Real Estate is Here!

And since it is tax time, I've decided to pick three entries as winners and divide them according to ease of reading and understanding. I call them the 1040s of real estate.

In third place, we have the 1040EZ. Not great for deductions but it sure gets the job done quickly and easily. And for that, the winner is Rev-N-You for tips on How to Deal with Late Paying Tenants.

In second place, comes the 1040A. Slightly more complicated, but hey, at least you got your taxes done. The 1040 winner is Andrew Schultz with What do your Rentals Cost You?

And in first place comes the 1040. A long form, but you know it accounts for every cent you get back and everyone wants bigger deductions (and more of them!), right? The 1040 winner is Pat Friedl with his post Myths that can Sink New Real Estate Investors.

Enjoy! And remember to file your taxes!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What does a Real Estate Broker do?

As I sit here gloating over the fact that I passed my real estate broker exam (at the first attempt - yeah!) I seem to be getting quite a few questions from my readers regarding the difference between a real estate salesperson and a real estate broker. "Weren't you already in real estate?" they ask. "I thought you already were a broker." "How can you sell real estate without a broker's license?"

Okay. I will answer. Besides the fact that Realtors throw around a lot of acronyms most people don't understand, ("Send me over the TDS and the FIRPTA ASAP or we're going to get a 24 hours NTP!" If you understood all those acronyms, chances are you are a Realtor) we also tend to assume the general consumer understands agency and laws and regulations surrounding them. They have been so drilled into our heads by the time we pass our real estate exams that we think everyone knows.

Okay, so here goes. A real estate salesperson can technically only sell real estate when employed by a broker. The broker is usually the only person in a real estate office who is able to sign into an agency agreement with a client. So, in effect, the real estate salesperson (who also needs a license, albeit a "junior license" so to speak) is an agent of the real estate broker and works under his instructions. The salesperson's license is not effective unless employed by a real estate broker.

A broker on the other hand may sell real estate on his or her own without being employed by a real estate brokerage. A broker may also hire real estate salespeople of his own. There are some real estate brokers however who do choose to work with other brokerages as "associate brokers" in that they in effect become salespeople in their job descriptions even though they keep their broker's license.

There also seems to be some confusion over whether the term "Realtor" applies to all real estate agents or the broker alone. "Realtor" is a term adopted by the National Association of Realtors. Any real estate agent (broker or salesperson) who is a member of this trade group is a Realtor and follows a code of ethics. It is an effort to standardize real estate and also provide important business tools used in everyday real estate activities. Usually, if a brokerage is part of the National Association of Realtors, all its salespeople are also required to pay their dues and are each individual members (Realtors) as well.

Hope all of this helps clear up some confusion regarding real estate salespeople and brokers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I am now a Real Estate Broker!

All righty, then! Cheers!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Landlords: Read This!

Coming Soon! Here are some reviews of what you should be reading coming out soon and available on Amazon. Check back often!

"Landlord Landmines represents the PERFECT balance to all those "How to get rich investing in real estate" books! Only the IRS thinks being a landlord is a "passive" activity! What do they know?
"Purva has written her experience in a light, often funny style, that's easy on the digestion, concise, with a ton of hard earned insights. From me to you: Get a credit report EVERY TIME! People who pay their bills on time will pay their rent on time. Good reading!"
- Huck Ferrill, Sacramento mortgage broker.

“This little book points you in the right direction.
“I like this little book - it contains a lot of what to do and what to avoid. If I was a beginner, I would take it and put tabs on some of the pages, put it in a three ring binder, then add to it whenever something changed or I discovered a great way to do something - Sort of like mom's old cookbook!
“I think the book offers a lot of advice to prospective landlords. You do not have to be certified to be a landlord, but you do need to know a lot about a lot.”
– Michael Mast, landlord for over three decades.

“As a real estate investor herself, Purva and her husband, James, went through their share of landlord horror stories. Landlord Landmines is the book Purva wished they’d had when had when they were getting started. Landlord Landmines is written both from her own experience and from the experience of many other landlords who she interviewed for the book.
“Forget the theory and the spreadsheets — Landlord Landmines puts together decades of collective experience and stories from real investors, who teach you what you need to know and what you need to avoid.”
- John Lockwood, real estate broker of Elite Properties.

Want to know what to avoid without all the jargon? Here’s a simple straightforward book that tells you – without the hype and the legalese! And it might just save you thousands of dollars in mistakes! Check back for details!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

If You Live in Folsom...

...and are a homebrewer, you might want to head over to the Brewmeister for your supplies. Today, we were over there to catch a little brewing session in the parking lot - so this notice is a little late. However, besides the fact that real estate is fairly stable in Folsom you homebrewers in Folsom have a lot to celebrate!

You can visit Brewmeister's website here.

It's about January, but still...

... if you're interested in the general state of real estate you might want to read this article on MSN. And remember that real estate is local. For the most up-to-date (and most local) market reports, go to the blog at Sacramento Home.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sacramento Drivers: Take a Breather!

I don't know if it's because I drive in a small town lately - yes, Pollock Pines is small - about 5000 people! It's been hard lately driving in Sacramento. Actually, no, it's not because I drive in Pollock Pines! And although I hate the drivers in Sacramento tailgating me every time I head into the city, here's my take: have you seen the new lanes being put in? Any doubt population is going up? And if the population goes up, what do you think real estate will do?


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Living in a Box?

This might give new meaning to the term "living in a box!"

Check it out!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dear Real Estate Broker Exam

Dear Broker Exam,

I know, I know. You're supposed to be tough. After all, a broker's job is a tough job. It involves - amongst keeping track of all the salespeople in a real estate office that are out showing property & managing mounds of paperwork, not to mention storing them for gasp! three years! - keeping a real estate brokerage out of court. But must you be so damn tough?

On the DRE website, you sound almost like a dream. 200 questions. Two and half hours in the morning, then a break, then two and a half hours in the afternoon. Get 75% right and you can get a license! (Well, unless the FBI doesn't clear your fingerprints. But then, getting a license is the least of your worries, holy moley!) And they're multiple choice. Should be a breeze, right? Wrong.

Even studying for two months and doing innumerable mock tests had not prepared me for your fury. And from the conversations outside the examination room during the break, no one else quite tamed you either. A flurry of flash cards and stacks of study materials flew out of purses and bags with such vigor that examinees forgot to eat. Really, broker exam, you are quite the anorexia-creator.

And now as I reflect on the five hours on my brain being bent every which real estate way and then some, I'm wondering about my results. Four days is an extremely long time to wait. My refrigerator is still covered with sticky notes with supposedly meaningless stuff like "43560" and "5280." But I'm not taking that down just yet. Not just yet.

My dear, dear broker exam... you're finally done. All I know is I couldn't have studied any more. Not a minute more than I did. Now to see if you liked me as much as I liked you!

Sacramento Real Estate Gal.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Landlord Landmines: Another Review

We have another one! This is the third review of my upcoming book "Landlord Landmines" and it comes from Huck Ferrill, a mortgage broker I have worked with very closely in the past for my clients as well as for my own mortgages. Read on!

Landlord Landmines represents the PERFECT balance to all those "How to get rich investing in real estate" books! Only the IRS thinks being a landlord is a "passive" activity! What do they know?

Purva has written her experience in a light, often funny style, that's easy on the digestion, concise, with a ton of hard earned insights. From me to you: Get a credit report EVERY TIME! People who pay their bills on time will pay their rent on time. Good reading!

And remember to buy a copy when it comes out!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Broker Exam Next Week!

Yes, you read that right. Your very own Sacramento Real Estate Gal is now going to be a real estate broker. Which of course means I can't blame my mistakes on anyone. Ha. Just kidding.

So if you've been wondering where I am and what I've been doing, this is part of it. As of now, I can tell you off the top of my head that there are:

1 mile = 5280 feet
1 acre = 43560 square feet
1 square yard = 9 square feet

....and that's just it for the math! Anyway, studying for this test has been very interesting. If anything, it has renewed my faith in real estate as a long term investment even more!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Home Sellers: Must-Have Product

If your home is currently on the market, chances are you are still living there and wanting to every home buyer interested in buying it or at least making an offer. If you have pets and are a home seller, there's no product I would strongly suggest more than the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair.

I picked it up today along with the rest of my groceries and spent the next half hour picking up an entire cat from my couches and curtains. Okay, just kidding! But still, this product works. I've been so frustrated by cat hair on my couch when guests come over, I can just imagine being a home seller with pets and a current listing on the market!

Try it! It's an essential for home sellers! Realtors, this might be a good gift to give your listing clients as well. I know I will!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Avoid a Real Estate Disaster!

If you haven't given up yet on the real estate market, obviously you're here to stay. Learn what mistakes to avoid today and in the future when the market turns around. Read my posts on Sacramento-home "How to Avoid a Real Estate Disaster!"