Closing Costs

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

Today was a happy day for a client of mine:  he signed his loan documents today!  It took over an hour and a quarter (signing two sets of loan documents, for the first and second loan – better make sure your pen has a lot of ink!).  After the buyer signs loan documents, there’s only a brief delay (typically just a couple of days) before the loan funds and the title records under the new ownership.  It’s pretty much the last thing the buyer does before he picks up the keys. The first thing that the lender did was go over the Settlement Statement with my buyer, explaining to him what all the charges were for.  I’d already gone over an estimate of the statement with him before, but it never hurts to go over everything again, one last time, so that the buyer knows where all the money comes from and where it’s going to. In this case, the sellers had agreed to paying $6,000 of the buyer’s closing costs.  That’s a common practice, by the way – many sellers will agree to help pay the buyer’s closing costs, if that will help them sell the property.  In this case, we gave them a full-price offer, minus the $6K we wanted back to pay the buyer’s closing costs.  The buyer was using 100% financing, and he wanted to conserve his cash to make some upgrades to the property after he bought it. When a seller credits a buyer with closing costs, however, they can only … Read More

Flickr Photos

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

Well, I don’t know how it happened, but somehow today I stumbled onto – now a subsidiary of Yahoo, Inc.  I’d heard of Flickr before, many times, but somehow it had never really caught my attention.  But today I downloaded a nifty little program for my computer that displays Flickr photos in a “stock ticker” format along one edge of my screen.  It just sort of sits there on top of the other windows, semi-transparent, and has a scrolling view of pictures that folks have posted up on the web. There are some really incredible photos there!  And so it inspired me to start uploading a bunch of photos to Flickr, too – even though I have my own prolific photo gallery on-line already.  I thought it might be a nice way to share my photos with the world and at the same time generate some traffic back to my own site. The cool thing is that Flickr has a built-in RSS Feed for the pictures that you put up there!  And now I’m a big RSS junkie, so that was something I just couldn’t pass up.  Now you, too, can view some of my photos on my Flickr RSS Feed!  Of course, if you don’t have an RSS News Reader, you can always just visit my Flickr web page. So what’s this got to do with Real Estate, you ask?  Precious little!  But one cannot live on Real Estate alone!

A Visit to City Hall

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

A couple of days ago, I went down to Santa Cruz City Hall, to catch a public meeting of the Zoning Administrator. There were several projects that the public was invited to comment on before the zoning administrator. I happened to know about the meeting because I’m a semi-avid reader of the Legal Notices in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. I spent about 90 minutes there, observing the proceedings. There were around five projects on the agenda that day. There was a stack of papers for people to grab, which documented what each project was about, and the City’s rationale for approving or dis-approving the project. I want to comment upon two of the projects that were debated there at the meeting that day. The first was a case proposed development of four 1-bedroom townhouses on a cul-de-sac on Sumner Street in the Seabright neighborhood of Santa Cruz. There is currently a single-family residence on the parcel in question, but it is zoned R-L which allows for much a higher density. There are other single-family residences on the cul-de-sac which are also, I believe, zoned R-L. The Planning Commission of the city had been inclined to approve the project, with some conditions, prior to the meeting. The property owner/developer started off with a brief presentation about how he had made some changes to the development plan, based on the input of the neighbors. There was a big kerfuffle about a heritage Boxelder tree – one would have to be cut down to make way for the townhomes, … Read More

Throw ’em a low ball!

Seb FreyCommentary, Santa Cruz Real Estate

There’s something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time now:  low-ball offers.  Last year we didn’t see too many low-ball offers.  The market was just too hot for sellers – properties were being snapped up in wild feeding frenzies, with just about everything going for over asking price in a matter of days.  In such an environment, what chance would a low-ball offer have?  A snowball’s chance in H-E-double toothpicks, that’s what! Things have changed considerably of late – and much for the better, if you’re a buyer.  Multiple-offers are still happening – for prime properties that are well priced.  By and large, though, properties are sitting on the market longer – much, much longer – now than they were last year.  What does this mean for you, the prospective real estate buyer? It means that there are a lot of anxious sellers out there!  Examine these listing remarks I stumbled upon recently: GREAT HORSE PROPERTY- 2 BEDROOM 1 BATH ON 1 ACRE OF LAND. CHERRY FLOORING, STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES, HOME HAS BEEN UPGRADED, NEW COMP ROOF, SOLD AS-IS. OWNER ANXIOUS, MAKE OFFER. Hello!  It says right there that the owner is anxious and you are invited to make an offer.  By all means, do the owner a favor and put in an offer.  Go ahead and offer $50,000 or $100,000 less than asking price.  What can it hurt?  The pain of rejection?  It’s business, don’t take it personally!  And if you do offer much much lower than asking price, do not be surprised … Read More

Snow White

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

Was that some crazy storm last night or what? Thunder, lightning, rain just bucketing down – I haven’t seen anything like that here in Santa Cruz since I don’t know when – maybe never. And this morning, when I left my house, I had to be extra careful going down the steps – for they were covered in hail-slush-ice. My car, too! Later that morning, I went out to the Larkin Valley area to check out some homes, previewing them for clients. All along the way, I could see that there was what looked like snow all along the sides of the freeway. I got off at the Larkin Valley exit, and I saw a line of cars parked there. I thought “Wow, Larkin Valley road must be blocked!” – but no. Instead, folks had just stopped by the side of the road to stop, build snowmen, go sledding, and throw snowballs. ¡Que wow!

Rates hit 2.5 Year High

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

Well folks, many of you have been waiting for the shoe to drop, and right now it may be getting ready, finally, to do so!  Check out this report that says interest rates have reached a 2.5 year high. For years now, the pundits (and everyone else!) have been speculating that rising interest rates will pop the real estate bubble – that the rapid rise in values that we’ve seen these past several years have been due to low rates and exotic financing options.  Every time the rates rise a couple of weeks in a row, the doom-sayers start coming out of the woodwork to announce that the party’s over, and, like latter-day Chicken Littles, that the sky is falling. But now we’ve hit a 2.5 year high!  Of course, even 2.5 years ago they were saying that rising interest rates would put the damper on rising home prices – but the thing is, rates never really rose all that high – but home prices continued right on rising, until last year when they started to plateau, and, in some markets, to decline. So now we have housing prices that aren’t rising (and in some cases falling, a bit), and the interest rates are rising.  So, about that shoe – is it about to drop? Probably not.  The consensus is that prices will be stay flat (not drop precipitously) in the event of a modest rate increase.  If rates climb much over 7%, the consensus seems to be that this will negatively affect home prices.  But … Read More

Coffee at the Perg

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

One of the great things about being a Realtor is that you get to meet many interesting people. A couple of days ago I set an appointment to meet a man at Caffe Pergolesi. We’d been in communication for several months about the real estate market – somewhere down the road, he’d like to buy a home here in Santa Cruz. This guy has done a lot in his life. I’m still not quite sure about what he does, exactly – some kind of engineer, and worked on a variety of diverse projects. Now, he’s taking a break from all of that and he’s pursuing a PhD at UC Santa Cruz. While he’s working on his PhD, though, he is looking for contract jobs. You can check out his resume on line. If you’re looking to hire a engineering wünderguy, give his portfolio a look! You might want to take a look, anyway – he’s living proof that Santa Cruz has become, in fact, a diverse community; it’s not just for surfers and hippies anymore. 🙂

Annual Real Estate Report

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

I wanted to make sure you all knew about my Annual Real Estate Report! It’s available on-line, and you can download it here: It should be a pretty interesting read: it contains lots of market statistics for what happened in 2005, and shows how the market performed in comparison to the predictions that were made for 2005 – for the nation, for California, and for our local market. It also contains forecasts for 2006. Bottom line? A further decrease in sales – but a further increase in prices! Interesting – a seeming paradox, but that’s how it was in 2005. I encourage you to download the report today!

Deal of the Century

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

The other day, I went in for a haircut.  Now, hold on, I know you’re asking, “What’s a haircut got to do with real estate?”  Hey – EVERYTHING has got something to do with real estate!  As it happens, I went to the JiffyCutz or whatever it’s called right next door to my office.  I’m a busy guy, and I just couldn’t make it over to Los Altos to my normal stylist.  I got in at a good time – I only had to wait but a moment. I like getting my haircut, it’s kind of relaxing.  Many stylists are chatty folk, and the time often just seems to fly by.  My stylist that day began by asking where I worked.  “Oh, I work at the real estate office right next door.” “You’re a Realtor, eh?” she asked, with a bit of suspicion in her voice – like maybe I was going to try to sell her something.  So of course, I replied, “Yes, I am!  Do you want to buy a house?”  Snappy rejoinder, wasn’t it?  “No thanks,” she replied – “I’ve already got a townhouse in San Jose.  And, besides, I just can’t see paying these prices!  I’ve love to live here in Capitola, but I don’t see how these prices can be sustained.” I get that a lot.  I hear it time and again.  The thing is, I’ve been hearing these same things for years – all my life, it seems.  It’s something I’ve thought a great deal about.  “Let me ask you … Read More

Home Prices: up or down?

Seb FreySanta Cruz Real Estate

I can hear some agents in my office muttering about how their buyer clients are hesitating to purchase in this market.  It seems that many folks feel that home prices are soon to come down a bit.  As you know, real estate is cyclical – prices rise, and they fall – so yes, one day, the prices will come down.  The question is, when?  And by how much? I’ve been telling people for years, throughout this recent boom in prices, that if they’re buying now under the assumption that they can flip the property in a year or two, without doing anything to it, and expect make a profit that way – that this is highly speculative and therefore risky.  Of course, if you bought two or three years ago, your gamble would have paid off.  Will the same gamble pay off if you buy today? Maybe, maybe not!  It’s all speculative.  Many folks say no, that the market is due for a “correction.”  But they have been saying that for years.  It could be we’ll have another couple-few years of home price growth before we see the next downturn.  Or, it could be a decade before prices actually drop – many “experts” are predicting that we’ll hit a plateau that will last a long time, with home prices not moving too much up or down. So if you’re looking to buy a home and you’re thinking that you’ll save money by waiting…you might want to think again.  Freddie Mac has just released the quarterly Conventional … Read More