397 Aristotle Street, Simi Valley, CA

Just sold this, Bank Owned, REO, Foreclosure. The home has been rehabbed with new interior paint, carpets, and more. This 4 bedrooms and 2 bathroom home was a great price and great location.

Real Estate Market Snapshot – November ’08

  ACTIVE SOLD – w/in Last 6 Months
  Number of
Average Price Days on
Number of
Average Price Days on
Today 864 $1,313,753 100 959 $689,798 85
Last Year 1196 $1,173,932 96 891 $888,664 75
% Difference 72% 112% 104% 108% 78% 113%
GREEN Indicates an improvement from the previous year.
RED Indicates a decline from the previous year.
Information is gathered from the Ventura County MLS. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed to be accurate.

The spreadsheet above is updated almost daily by going to this link: http://www.themmteam.com/2008/09/conejo-valley-stats.html

As we mentioned earlier this month in an announcement, the Conejo Valley, for the first time in TWO years has finally started to sell more homes than it did the year before.

We predicted in last month’s Real Estate Market Snapshot, that this year’s sales would exceed last year’s sales by the end of the month.

As you can see in the chart above, Conejo Valley is by far selling more than last year and this number continues to spread further. Another thing to note is that inventory is STILL down almost 30% from last year. Which poses the question: If inventory is down and sales are up, does that mean houses are not staying on the market as long?

YES! Last month the days on market were 14% higher than last years figures. This month it has dwindled down to 4% higher. We expect to see this number become lower in the next couple of months. Stay on the look out for more snapshots!

Great Kitchen’s Sell Homes

The kitchen is the most important room to stage in your home. Potential home buyers will want to view it without the unnecessary countertop appliances and clutter. By showcasing your kitchen in the best possible light, you can potentially sell your home faster and increase the closing price. Even in a slow real estate market, making your kitchen attractive to a buyer could make the difference.

Clean up the kitchen

Studies have shown that one of the dirtiest places in the home is the kitchen. Before you list, pull out those rubber gloves and give everything a good scrub so that the kitchen sparkles.

Clutter is a kitchen killer

A great rule of thumb for the staging of a kitchen is to leave no more than two appliances on your counter. After you have uncluttered the kitchen counter, brighten and soften the space by adding some fresh fruit, new dishtowels, a cookbook, and plants or flowers.

Modernizing today will help you sell tomorrow

Modernizing your kitchen can help you sell your home for years to come. Renovating your kitchen now will let you enjoy new appliances while boosting the value of your home for the future.


Take the time to make sure all the existing light fixtures have working light bulbs. Make sure the blinds are open on all the windows and, if required, add a small table lamp or two to accent a dark corner.

… And the kitchen sink

Another kitchen remodeling idea is to upgrade your “sinkware.” New faucets, soap dispensers and sinks (whether you are reglazing or replacing altogether) are affordable ways to give the kitchen an immediate facelift.

The kitchen is the most important room and biggest selling feature in your house. Staging it properly can make every potential buyer say, “this could be my kitchen.”

Loans for Veterans

There has been a lot of news lately about how difficult it is for a person to get a loan to finance the purchase of a home. For most people, that is true; however for qualified veterans, the VA loan has certain guarantees to the lender that make these loans more available in today’s volatile lending market. A VA loan is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and for that reason; lenders who have been approved by the Veteran’s Administration currently have money to lend to qualified VA buyers.

There are several standards and periods of service one must meet to qualify for a VA loan. A professional Real Estate Agent specializing in assisting VA buyers can help you through the process and direct you to a reputable VA approved lender. Our very own, Joan Genter of The M & M Team has first hand knowledge of the VA process. Joan is a retired member of the United States Air Force, has relocated many times over the years and has purchased her personal property using the VA Loan.

The first step in becoming eligible for a VA loan is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from either the Veteran’s Administration or through a qualified VA lender who has the ability to obtain a certificate for you. In most cases you will need a copy of your DD214 or equivalent to prove your military service periods. When the Certificate of Eligibility is issued, it will be good for 12 months.

There are several advantages to obtaining a VA loan. VA loans allow you to purchase a property with 100% financing (no down payment) and they do not require you to pay primary mortgage insurance. Additionally, a seller can pay up to 6% of your closing costs and the loan can be written for 30 years, with a fixed interest rate. In Ventura County, effective January 1, 2009, the maximum loan amount for a VA loan will be $598,000. This makes many properties in Ventura County very affordable. One of the best advantages of the VA loan is that your credit scores are not a heavy weight for your loan qualification. What is more important to the VA is that the last 12 month period shows a clean history of paying on time. The VA also does not charge you a higher interest rate based on your credit score as most lenders do. Also, VA loans are assumable, which is a good position to be in when you are ready to sell your home as it helps buyers be attracted to your property.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the VA loan is to provide financing for your principal primary residence. These loans are provided for existing homes or new construction, not for land purchases. You can purchase a house, condominium or a townhouse; it doesn’t matter as long as you live in the property.

5 Tips to Help You Sell Your Home Fast

There is no question that in many parts of the country, houses are currently on the market longer. As a seller, this slow-down means there is more competition for a limited pool of potential buyers. Consider the following five tips to place your home on the fast track to sale:

Price It Right
The first 30 days are the most critical. If your home is priced too high, interested buyers may never even tour your listing. The longer the property is on the market, the fewer the prospects.

Deciding the value of a home isn’t an exact science. Yet, there is data to help you determine a fair asking price that is right on target. You may want to hire a real estate appraiser for an objective, unbiased estimate. Then consult with a real estate professional who can help you determine true market value based on a comparable market analysis, which will include recent home sale transactions as well as homes currently on the market. From your analysis, you may want to price your home conservatively to give it a competitive edge.

Make Your Home Irresistible
Unless they are looking for a fixer-upper, most homesellers are more likely to make a bid on a home that they can enjoy immediately. Therefore, you need to create an environment the buyer can’t resist. In other words, do everything you can to make the home so attractive, charming, cozy, inviting, comfortable and exciting that a buyer will want to buy that lifestyle for himself.

Evaluate the home from a buyer’s point of view. An experienced real estate professional will be able to offer an objective view and will also know what buyers are asking for. Get your home in tip-top shape by making repairs and cosmetic improvements, and removing clutter. This may mean investing in a few upgrades to modernize your home’s look such as installing newer carpet and light fixtures and painting the walls a neutral shade.

Create Traffic
If you want buyers to see your home, you must first find the buyers. Work with your real estate professional to design a marketing plan that is flexible and capitalizes on your property’s most desirable features. Your strategy should include ways to reach buyers online and offline – such as word of mouth, the Internet, yard signs, direct mail, open houses and so on.

Go with a Professional
Selling a home is more than just putting a sign in your yard and having a listing on the Internet. And in a competitive market, you don’t really want to take the chance of making novice mistakes that can slow the selling of your home. By hiring a real estate professional, you get the benefit of an experienced marketer and negotiator who is familiar with real estate issues in your community. A real estate professional can offer worthy advice on pricing and staging your home based on their vast experience.

Plus, there’s the added value of the peer-to-peer networking among real estate professionals, which can bring buyers and sellers together – sometimes even before the property goes on the market.

Offer Incentives
Offering incentives can be just the impetus a potential buyer needs to select your property over others. You may want to consider offering a carpet or paint allowance. Or, pay for a professional home inspection or a home warranty – and, depending on your market and budget, offer to pay some of the closing costs.

Don’t be discouraged if there are competing homes for sale in your neighborhood. With just a few smart moves, you can turn a buyers’ market in your favor.

Curb Appeal

Imagine going on a job interview looking shabby, or trying to sell your car for a good price when it’s filthy and loaded with stuff. In a competitive market, you wouldn’t do well.

The same can be said about selling your home. If it looks neglected and in need of work, some buyers won’t even take a look. This is particularly the case in today’s market where, in many parts of the country, there are far more homeowners anxious to sell than there are buyers interested in buying.

In a business where emotions and pride of ownership play a big role, first impressions can have a lasting effect. Most buyers lack the ability to imagine what a house might look like with a different exterior paint color or a landscaped yard. When there is a lot of inventory on the market, you may have only one chance to catch a buyer’s attention. Make sure it’s not lost before he or she walks through the front door.

One of the first items on a home seller’s agenda should be a critical evaluation of how the home and yard look from the street. It’s a good idea to ask your real estate agent to help with this. Sellers often have strong emotional attachments to their homes and have difficulty seeing it objectively.

Your goal is to identify cost-effective changes you can make to your house and yard that will make it more appealing to buyers. This could be as simple as cleaning up the yard, adding colorful plants, mulching, power washing the entry walk, and washing dirt off the exterior of the house.

However, if the paint is peeling, shutters are deteriorating, the fence is leaning and the yard is a mess, you have a bigger project on your hands. You can sell a house in this condition. But, it will appeal to a limited number of buyers who are willing to tackle a fixer-upper in order to get a bargain price.

Tips for Homeowners Who Might be at Risk

Homeowners who are in default or at-risk of defaulting should contact a reputable credit counseling agency to discuss possible options other than foreclosure. When calling a credit counseling agency, the homeowner should have their loan number, most recent mortgage statement, bank statements and a letter demonstrating financial hardship.

Homeowners should contact their loan servicer as soon as possible to try to work out potential solutions. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), some borrowers who do not meet the requirements for an existing mortgage modification program may still be considered for a loan adjustment based on personal circumstances.

If a mortgage modification is not possible, homeowners may want to consider a short sale — sell the home for less than the amount of the mortgage. Although a short sale enables a homeowner to avoid foreclosure and often causes less damage to the homeowner’s credit score than a foreclosure, the lender must agree to accept the loss and in some cases the homeowner may have to pay taxes on the difference. Also, many lenders are overwhelmed by the large number of short sales being submitted by homeowners, so it could take longer than usual to receive a short-sale acceptance from the lender.

If a homeowner cannot qualify for a mortgage modification or a short sale, some lenders will consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure, where the homeowner transfers the title to the lender in exchange for debt forgiveness. Properties that have additional debt, such as home equity lines of credit or additional mortgages, may not qualify for a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Homeowners who have additional debt tied to the property must share this information with their lender for consideration when applying for a short sale.

What is the Foreclosure Process?

Click on image to enlarge

The process begins when a homeowner has missed a payment or two, at which time the lender may choose to start the foreclosure process. This usually happens in 45 to 60 days but the decision to begin the foreclosure process is at the lender’s discretion and may vary. Once the lender decides to begin the foreclosure process, the lender is required to file a 30-Day Notice of Intent to file a Notice of Default (NOD).

The 30-Day Notice is a rule put into place by Senate bill 1137 in July of this year and applies to owner-occupied residential properties sold between January 1st, 2003 and December 31st, 2007. After the 30 days are up, the lender can file an official NOD. Lenders of residential properties that do not fall under the Senate bill can simply file an NOD after the first missed payment, again the actual time they file an NOD is at the lender’s discretion and may vary. The lender provides information on how to reinstate the loan and the homeowner has not less than three months from the NOD filing to do so.

If the homeowner does not act by end of three months after the NOD is filed, the lender can proceed with the foreclosure. The lender must publish a Notice of Trustee’s Sale, which is posted for 20-31 days (the law requires lenders to post the sale for at least 20 days but most usually file 31 days before the sale because of an IRS notice requirement). In all, the homeowner has a little over three months to bring their loan into good standing from the time an NOD is filed on their property. In addition to the time frame above the homeowner can, by law, bring their loan current until five days prior to the Trustee Sale. Even after the deadline to cure a default is filed, the homeowner still has an option to pay the entire loan amount up to the time of the Trustee Sale. However, once the Trustee Sale is recorded, the property is transferred to a new owner, in most cases the lender itself, and all bets are off for the homeowner. The property is then owned by the lender and becomes a real-estate owned or REO property.

The elapsed time from the first sign of financial distress to the final Trustee Sale may range anywhere between four and seven months, during which the homeowner can take steps to avoid foreclosure. The two most common ways of avoiding foreclosure are to negotiate a plan with the lender or negotiate a short sale (selling the home for less than what is owed to the lending institution). Regardless of how a homeowner’s mortgage problems are ultimately resolved, the foreclosure process tends to be lengthy and stressful, not to mention costly for all of those involved. The lender has incentives to work out a deal with homeowners if it is viable for them because the foreclosure process costs time and money in terms of legal fees, carrying costs, maintenance costs, and the burden of selling the property. The first thing for homeowners to do when they are facing difficulties paying their mortgage is to call their lender as soon as there is a problem. This early communication is key to avoiding foreclosure.

This information was provided by the California Association of REALTORS®, (C.A.R.). More information can be found on their website: CAR.org

The Best Time to Buy Real Estate

When is the best time to buy? The obvious answer is when the real estate market has reached it’s absolute lowest. Where prices can’t seem to get any lower. When the market is just about to turn around and head for the better.

The real question is, how do you know when the lowest point in the market happens? By the time you think everyone else is buying, or that it’s safe to buy, or the market is turning around, it’s already too late! You’ve missed it! There is no real solution for timing the market, however, getting in “the game” when it’s somewhere near the bottom is ideal.

We have reason to believe that the market is very near, if not already at the bottom in the Conejo Valley. It’s just a matter of time before everyone starts to jump in. Our reasons: The number of foreclosures are diminishing. The number of sales or higher than last year. Most importantly, homes in the $0 – $350,000 price range are already selling for 105% of list price.

For those of you that are truly looking for a home, but are nervous about the current market, we have two questions that you should be asking yourselves… Do you know when the bottom of the market is going to happen? If you are planning on living in the home for a while, won’t you be in it long enough to see a major improvement in the market? Even with all of Ventura County’s down-turns in the market, the value of homes have increased an average of 6% a year since 1982!

In answer to our first question, the best time to buy is NOW! Just before everyone else realizes that the market is making a come back. Just before sellers realize that they don’t have to give huge discounts to sell their property any more. Just in time for buyers to see a huge amount of equity build up in the years to come.

Camarillo Average Price – October ’08

This is a comparison of average prices for the area of Camarillo, CA, between 2007 and 2008.

October 2008 List Price Sold Price Diff. SP/LP % DOM
  $477,437 $462,156 -3.20% 85
October 2007 List Price Sold Price Diff. SP/LP % DOM
  $646,809 $605,754 -6.35% 88
Diff. ’08/’07 % List Price Sold Price   DOM
  -26.19% -23.71%   -1.14%

All information is gathered from the Ventura County MLS and is deemed reliable but not always accurate.