Tuesday, September 1, 2009

$8,000 Tax Credit Ends Soon

Act fast! Homebuyer tax credit ends soon

There's barely three months left before the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers ends -- and it can take that long to close on your new home.

By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Use any metaphor you want: the ticking clock, sands running through the hourglass or pages falling away from the calendar. The fact is, time is running out to claim the $8,000 first-time homebuyers tax credit.

Passed earlier this year as part of the economic stimulus package, the credit is good for up to $8,000, or 10% of the purchase price, and applies to people who have not owned a home in the previous three years. (There are some income restrictions.) The best part: Unlike a similar program from 2008, the credit does not have to be repaid.

The bad part: It ends on Dec. 1.

Because it usually takes around 90 days to close on a house after a contract is signed, buyers have very little time left to act. As of Thurs., Aug. 27, there were only 96 days left before the credit ends.

"Buyers have to get a home under contract very, very soon," said Tom Kunz, CEO of Century 21. "They probably should get out looking."

Sense of urgency
What they will find may surprise them: Many of the prime properties have already been snapped up. Home sales have been on the upswing, and inventories are so depleted in hot markets that first-time buyers are struggling to find homes in their price range. (Check prices in your city.)

In Whittier, Calif., for example, there are few repossessed homes for sale. Those are easy to buy because there isn't a lot of red tape and the bank wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Instead, most of the properties are short sales, where the sellers have to convince their lender to let them sell the house for less than they owe.

"That's why there's such a sense of urgency now," said Irma Tapper, a Century 21 real estate agent in Whittier. "The banks have to approve short sales, and they're taking three to six months to do that."

That means a first timer putting a bid on a short-sale might not get an answer form the bank until well after the Dec. 1 deadline for the tax credit. So when an actual repossession listing hits the markets, it creates a feeding frenzy.

Chuck Whitehead, who runs the Coldwell Banker agency in Temecula, Calif., said one recent listing hit the market on a Friday and by Monday there were 57 bids.

The National Association of Realtors attributes much of this activity to the first-time buyer tax credit. It estimates that 1.8 million buyers will file for the credit, and 350,000 of them wouldn't have been able to buy without it.

"It makes a big difference because most of these clients are in a lower price range," said Michelle Edmunds, an agent with Coldwell Banker in Temecula, Calf., who has closed sales for six first-time buyers. "The houses they buy need work and normally they wouldn't want to move in because of the [less than perfect] conditions the homes are in."

That is true for Wesley Forsythe. This June, the 30-year-old computer consultant and his girlfriend bought a row house in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. Since he paid just $80,000 for the three-bedroom, two-bath place, the credit acted like a 10% discount.

"It allowed us to expand our price range and plan additional renovations," he said. "My mortgage is several hundred dollars less than what my new rent would have been."

Forsythe applied for the credit immediately after closing, filing an amended 2008 tax return. The IRS cut him a check in less than seven weeks. He's spending it now on new hardwood floors, repainting most of the interior and renovating a bathroom. He's stretching the cash by doing much of the work himself.

Cash for Clunkers effect
Of course, analysts worry that this frenzy will dry up once the tax credit expires. They argue that without the incentive, much of the pressure on homebuyers to act quickly will vanish, and the nascent housing recovery could slump.

In many ways the tax credit is similar to the Cash for Clunkers program that ended this week. Already, auto dealers are anticipating that car sales will evaporate after accelerating during the program.

"It's just like Cash for Clunkers," said Robert Dye, a senior economist for PNC Financial Services Group. "It runs the risk of a let-down as the program runs its course."

Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who is a former real estate broker, is pushing legislation to extend the tax credit through next year, increase it to $15,000, include non-first-time homebuyers, and remove income restrictions.

The effort has drawn strong industry support.

"We need to stimulate the move-up buyer," said Century 21's Kunz, "so it works its way up the pricing food chain. That's what we need to get inventory moving again."


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How is Zestimate Calculated?

A lot of us use the Zestimate on zillow.com to get the value of a house. How is it calculated? Watch the Zillow videos.

For real estate professionals:

For general site users:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Real Estate Seminar (Part II)

The second part of the seminar had 25-30 attendees from Cisco. The questions from the audience were very specific:
  • is real estate in bay area hitting the bottom yet?
  • when is a good time to buy?
  • how is the rental market in bay area?
  • shall we look outside of bay area if we want positive cash flow?
  • what are the tax advantages of real estate investment?
  • what about loan options for investment properties?

Dr. Ho addressed the questions based on his first-hand info on the market and 30+ years of experience of seeing the ups and downs in the real estate market in bay area. It was a greatly informative and educational seminar, for veteran investors as well as first-time home buyers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Real Estate Seminar (Part I)

Last Friday, Dr. Ho hosted a real estate seminar in San Jose with 35-40 attendees from Cisco, including their family and friends. It was an open forum with the purpose to address questions on people's mind regarding real estate and investment in bay area.

Dr. Ho brings together his expertise in medical knowledge and 30+ years of experience in real estate, and started the session with an anatomy on decision making:
  • Should I buy?
  • Can I buy?
  • Will I buy?

After all, buying your first home or an investment property is probably one of the most important decisions to make in life. Dr. Ho went on to open up the floor to the audience, addressing their specific questions as well as throwing in some fundamental guidelines for real estate investment. Some highlights:

  • 4 Quadrants: wage earner, salary earner, business owner, investor. The goal is to become an investor and make the money work for you.
  • Dr. Ho's 2 Principles of Real Estate Investment, from his 30+ years of experience (sorry we can't divulge the "secret" here; you'll have to attend the seminar or contact Dr. Ho otherwise to find it out)
  • Criteria to buy an investment property: cash flow analysis, ROI, rental market, supply and demand curve
  • Your own home is not an investment, as contrary to some popular belief.
  • Why does the housing market behave like a basketful of rice?

The session was nicely concluded with a delicious catered lunch and mingling among the attendees. It was a diverse audience with some people looking to buy their very first home, and some others looking to add more investment properties to their portfolio. People exchanged information and learned from each other.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Find out where mortgage rates, home sales, and the median price are headed

Find out where mortgage rates, home sales, and the median price are headed. The Association recently released a mid-year update of our 2009 Housing Market Forecast. Click here to view.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bay Area Cities Ranked in Top 25 Places for Rich Singles

#5 Santa Clara: high tech as well as sports loving.

#20 Campbell: bar hopping in Campbell?

#21 Sunnyvale: how about Segway polo?

Complete list: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/moneymag/0906/gallery.bplive_richsingles.moneymag/index.html

Bay Area Home Sales and Median Price Rise

Home sales in the Bay Area jumped to their highest level in almost three years, the result of improved mortgage availability and a perception among potential buyers that prices have bottomed out. The median price paid for a home increased month-to-month for the third month in a row, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 8,644 new and resale houses and condos sold across the nine-county Bay Area in June. That was up 16.1 percent from 7,447 in May and up 20.4 percent from 7,178 in June 2008, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick.

Home sales have increased on a year-over-year basis the last ten months. June sales have varied from a low of 7,118 in 1993 to 15,735 in 2004 in DataQuick’s statistics, which go back to 1988. Last month was 16.1 percent below the 10,306 for an average June.

“Getting mortgage financing this last year has really been an egregious process, especially for borrowers in the upper half of the market. We’re just now seeing the beginnings of more normal mortgage lending patterns. There’s still a long way to go, but it looks like the worst of the grind is over,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the nine-county Bay Area was $352,000 last month, up 3.1 percent from $341,500 in May and down 27.4 percent from $485,000 in June 2008. It was the highest since $375,000 last October.

The current median is 47.1 percent below the $665,000 peak reached in June 2007. It hit a low of $290,000 in March this year. About half the downturn appears to be price declines, the other half is the absence of of high-end home sales in the statistics, which pulls the median down.

Financing with home loans above the old “jumbo” limit of $417,000 edged up to the highest level in almost a year. Last month 28.8 percent of all Bay Area mortgages were jumbos, the highest since 31.9 percent in August last year and well above the bottom of 17.1 percent last January. Two years ago jumbos accounted for more than 60 percent of all home purchase loans.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo are the two most active lenders in the Bay Area with 30 percent of the market between them.

Use of government-insured FHA loans – a common choice among first-time buyers – represented 24.1 percent of all Bay Area purchase loans in June, down from a record 26 percent in April but up from 10.7 percent a year ago.

MDA DataQuick is a division of MDA Lending Solutions, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. MDA DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts. Because of late data availability, sales counts were estimated in Alameda County.

Last month 37.3 percent of all homes resold in the Bay Area had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months, down from 40.5 percent in May and the lowest since 36.0 percent in August 2008. The peak was 52.0 percent in February this year. By county, foreclosure resales ranged last month from 6.3 percent of all resales in Marin to 62.7 percent in Solano.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed themselves to paying was $1,585 last month, up from $1,443 the previous month, and down from $2,407 a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 39.7 percent below typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. They are 55.4 percent below the current cycle's peak in July 2007.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity remains near record levels, while financing with adjustable-rate mortgages is near the all-time low but has recently edged higher. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes and flipping rates are stable, and non-owner occupied buying is above-average in some markets, MDA DataQuick reported.

 Sales VolumeMedian Price
All homesJun-08Jun-09%ChngJun-08Jun-09%Chng
Contra Costa1,5281,81718.9%$378,000$250,000-33.90%
Santa Clara1,6262,09028.5%$612,000$445,000-27.30%
San Francisco571561-1.8%$726,750$635,000-12.60%
San Mateo56562210.1%$690,000$565,500-18.0%
Bay Area7,1788,64420.4%$485,000$352,000-27.40%

Source: MDA DataQuick Information Systems, www.DQNews.com

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Tools for Home Buyers

You are walking in the neighborhood and see a house for sale that you really like. You can't wait to check out the details: price, square footage, sales history, etc. Now, whip out your iPhone and check out everything at your fingertip.

As an investor, you wonder how profitable an investment property will be? What's cash flow like? Log on to InvestorLoft.com to sort the properties by different options.

With so many properties priced below market, you are interested in finding out how many times a house has dropped its price, and by how much, so that you may price your offer accordingly. Check out Trulia.com for price reductions.

Video is an efficient means of communications these days. Why not use it for real estate? Watch realtors talk about the areas that they service in, and, better yet, watch listing videos when you hunt for your favorite home.

Check out the latest and the greatest new tools for home buyers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Interesting Housing Anecdotes

Several interesting stories I heard recently:

REO SFH in Tracy: the same kind of house was priced at $280K last year. Peak was $550K+. Now the listing price is $220K. A buyer offered $230K (5% over) but didn't get it. The whisper number is $250K (~15% over).

Another REO SFH in Tracy: 20 yr old, 1,500+ sq ft, 3 BR/2BA. The listing price is $120K, market value $180K, offered $140K (17% over), didn't get it either.

SFH in San Jose Berryessa area: 25 yr old, 1,500 sq ft, 3 BR/2.5 BA. The listing price is $410K (below market). Got 70 offers in 7 days! $480K (20% over) will likely get it.

SFH in West San Jose, Lynbrook High: 1,200 sq ft, 4BR/2BA, listing price in the high $700s. On major street with a bus stop right in front of the house. It went sales pending after one open house!

It seems a lot of investors from out of the state/country are buying distressed properties in CA. Heard there are a surge of applications to get TIN (temporary SSN) from foreign investors who pay cash for homes in the bay area lately.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fantastic Campbell SFH Next to Saratoga - Open House

1635 Westmont Ave. Campbell, CA 95008
4 Bedrooms, 3.5 Bathrooms
Living: 2,050 SqFt, Lot: 6,000 SqFt
List Price: $869,000

Open House This Weekend
06/27 (Sat) 2 PM-4PM
06/28 (Sun) 2PM-4PM

Contact: Dr. Richard Ho, (408)828-0189, prkho@DrHoRealty.com

Brand New Total Rebuilt - remodeled Single Family House in Campbell next to highly desirable Saratoga LG. Efficient, elegant floor plan and style. Easy living . Priced to sell and move in. Approximately 2050sf living space.

LIKE NEW! COMPLETE ADDITION AND REMODEL! GREAT SCHOOLS! FANTASTIC VALUE! Two master suites with full baths - total of 4 bedrooms! 4 as NEW bathrooms! Spacious family room area with entertainment bonus center. Great floor plan! Gourmet kitchen! Spacious and bright! Desirable neighborhood that borders Saratoga! Close to commute and shopping. Great Campbell Schools.

More details on Zillow.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Available New Home Purchase Tax Credit Funds Dwindle

In March the California State Legislature passed a law establishing a personal income tax credit for purchasers of a qualifying principal residence. The tax credit is capped at the lesser of $10,000 or 5 percent of the purchase price for the purchase of a principal residence that has never been occupied between March 1, 2009 and March 1, 2010.

Over the past two months homebuyers have reserved over $65 million in tax credits, with only $35 million in available credits remaining, according to the California Franchise Tax Board. It is important for buyers to be aware that the seller must file paperwork with the state within seven days of the sale for the buyer to qualify for the credit.

The credit provides in equal amounts ($3,333 for the $10,000 credit) over the three successive taxable years beginning with the year in which the purchase is made.

Qualifying residences must never have been occupied and must be eligible after purchase for the Homeowner's Property Tax Exemption. The taxpayer must live in the home as his principal residence for at least two years, or be subject to payback for any tax credits received.

Unlike the federal tax credit, the state has limited the total amount of credits that may be claimed to $100 million. Because of this provision buyers must make a tax credit reservation, and credits will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) is accepting applications (via form 3528-A) for allocation (reservations) of credit by fax only (916-845-9754). For more information about the credit reservations, applicable forms and the number of credits still available, please see this California Franchise Tax Board Web page.

President Signs Law to Limit Foreclosures

President Barack Obama last week signed into law S. 896, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, an NAR-supported bill that includes provisions to limit foreclosures and keep families in their homes. The bill seeks to help home owners by providing a safe harbor for mortgage servicers who make a good-faith effort to modify troubled loans, and it makes changes to increase the use of the Hope for Homeowners program, which encourages replacement of troubled loans with safe FHA-backed financing. The bill also strengthens oversight of FHA-approved lenders and it establishes a task force to investigate mortgage foreclosure fraud.

The new law loosens the Hope for Homeowners (H4H) program requirements to help homeowners refinance out of their troubled mortgages and into more affordable, fixed-rate FHA-insured loans. If refinance proceeds are insufficient to pay off existing liens, the existing lien holders must voluntarily agree to a short payoff, but a new inducement is an opportunity for them to share in the homeowner's equity. Other changes to the H4H program include monetary incentives for both the participating servicers of the existing loans and originators of the FHA refinance. Millionaire borrowers (with net worth over $1 million) are now excluded from the program.

Effective immediately, an REO lender or buyer who acquires title through a foreclosure sale must give at least a 90-day notice to terminate a bona fide tenant. The following shall be considered bona fide tenants:

• the mortgagor or the child, spouse, or parent of the mortgagor under the contract is not the tenant;
• the lease or tenancy was the result of an arms-length transaction; and
• the lease or tenancy requires the receipt of rent that is not substantially less than fair market rent for the property or the unit's rent is reduced or subsidized due to a federal, state, or local subsidy.

A 90-day notice to terminate is sufficient for a month-to-month tenant or if a new owner will occupy the property as a primary residence at the end of the 90 days. Otherwise, a tenant with a one year or other fixed-term lease with a remaining lease term exceeding 90 days can stay in the premises until the remaining lease term ends. This new 90-day notice requirement applies to foreclosures of a federally-related mortgage loan or residential real property, except for properties under rent control, rent-subsidized programs (such as Section 8), or other state laws that provide additional protections for tenants. This law expires on December 31, 2012.

Other provisions of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act include a 4-year extension of the $250,000 FDIC deposit insurance to December 31, 2013, protection for loan servicers who establish qualified loss mitigation plans from liability for an alleged breach of duty to maximize mortgage values for their investors, $130 million for foreclosure prevention counseling and education, and $2.2 billion to strengthen homeless programs.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Market Update in May

In response to my May 6th post below:

No wonder since the last 30 days we are seeing the foreclosed properties (e.g. REO= Real estate owned by bank) in Silicon Valley and the starter properties have received multiple and multiple offers. I have witnessed the record of 75 offers in Milpitas! I believe the bottom of the Silicon Valley housing market has been well supported and we might see a momentous increase in the property values soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

$$ for Homebuyers

Final Score: $8,000 for Homebuyers

First-time purchasers get a tax credit windfall if they buy before December.

Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer

There's a nice windfall for some homebuyers in the economic stimulus bill. First-time buyers can claim a credit worth $8,000 - or 10% of the home's value, whichever is less - on their 2008 or 2009 taxes.

A big plus is that the credit is refundable, meaning tax filers see a refund of the full $8,000 even if their total tax bill - the amount of withholding they paid during the year plus anything extra they had to pony up when they filed their returns - was less than that amount. But there has been a lot of confusion over this provision. Adam Billings of Knoxville, Tenn. wrote to CNNMoney.com asking:

“I will qualify as a first-time home buyer, and I am currently set to get a small tax refund for 2008. Does that mean if I purchased now that I would get an extra $8,000 added on top of my current refund?”

The short answer? Yes, Billings would get back the $8,000 plus what he'd overpaid. The long answer? It depends. Here are three scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your final tax liability is normally $6,000. You've had taxes withheld from every paycheck and at the end of the year you've paid Uncle Sam $6,000. Since you've already paid him all you owe, you get the entire $8,000 tax credit as a refund check.

Scenario 2: Your final tax liability is $6,000, but you've overpaid by $1,000 through your payroll withholding. Normally you would get a $1,000 refund check. In this scenario, you get $9,000, the $8,000 credit plus the $1,000 you overpaid.

Scenario 3: Your final tax liability is $6,000, but you've underpaid through your payroll withholding by $1,000. Normally, you would have to write the IRS a $1,000 check. This time, the first $1,000 of the tax credit pays your bill, and you get the remaining $7,000 as a refund.

To qualify for the credit, the purchase must be made between Jan. 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2009. Buyers may not have owned a home for the past three years to qualify as “first time” buyer. They must also live in the house for at least three years, or they will be obligated to pay back the credit.

Additionally, there are income restrictions: To qualify, buyers must make less than $75,000 for singles or $150,000 for couples. (Higher-income buyers may receive a partial credit.)

Applying for the credit will be easy - or at least as easy as doing your income taxes. Just claim it on your return. No other forms or papers have to be filed. Taxpayers who have already completed their returns can file amended returns for 2008 to claim the credit.

Lukewarm reception

The housing industry is somewhat pleased with the result because the stimulus plan improves on the current $7,500 tax credit, which was passed in July and was more of a low-interest loan than an actual credit. But the industry was also disappointed that Congress did not go even further and adopt the Senate's proposal of a $15,000 non-refundable credit for all homebuyers.

“[The Senate version] would have done a lot more to turn around the housing market,” said Bernard Markstein, an economist and director of forecasting for the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). “We have a lot of reports of people who would be coming off the fence because of it.”

Even so, the $8,000 credit will bring an additional 300,000 new homebuyers into the market, according to estimates by Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

The credit could also create a domino effect, he said, because each first-time homebuyer sale will lead to two more trade-up transactions down the line. “I think there are many homeowners who would be trading-up but they have had no buyers for their own homes,” Yun said.

Who won't benefit, according to Mark Goldman, a real estate lecturer at San Diego State University, are those first-time homebuyers struggling to come up with down payments. The credit does not help get them over that hurdle - they still have to close the sale before claiming the bonus.

One state, Missouri, is trying to get around that problem by creating a short-term loan on the tax credit of up to $6,750. The state would loan borrowers the money so they could use it at closing as part of the down payment. Then, when the buyers receive their tax credit from the IRS, they pay back the state. Other states may follow with similar programs, according to NAHB's Dietz.

Many may look at the tax credit as a discount on the home price, according to Yun. A $100,000 purchase effectively becomes a $92,000 one. That can reassure buyers apprehensive about purchasing and then watching prices continue falling, he added.

And it provides a nice nest egg for the often-difficult early years of homeownership, when unexpected repairs and expenses often crop up. Recipients could also use the money to buy new stuff for their home - a lawnmower, a rug, a sofa - and, in that way, help stimulate the economy.

Reprint courtesy of

Monday, April 27, 2009

New San Jose SFH on Saratoga Border

Open House This Weekend
05/02 Sat 1-4 PM
05/03 Sun 1-4 PM

Contact Richard (408)828-0189, prkho@drhorealty.com

5017 Yorkton Way, San Jose 95130
4BR 4BA, 2,200 SqFt, 6,000+ lot
Newly built in 2008. Listing price $899,000.

  • Desirable neighborhood that borders Saratoga!
  • Three master suites with full baths--total of 4 bedrooms!
  • 4 as NEW bathrooms!
  • Spacious family room area with entertainment bonus center.
  • Great floor plan!
  • Gourmet kitchen!
  • Spacious and bright!
  • Close to commute and shopping!
  • Great Schools!
More details on Zillow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Are you confused about the terms of mortgage loan?

Conforming Loan

What Does Conforming Loan Mean?
A mortgage that is equal to or less than the dollar amount established by the conforming loan limit set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's Federal regulator, The Office of Federal Housing
Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) and meets the funding criteria of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Investopedia explains Conforming Loan
The term "conforming" is most often used when speaking specifically about a mortgage amount; however, the terms "conforming" and "conventional" are frequently used interchangeably.
Mortgages that exceed the conforming loan limit are classified as non-conforming or jumbo mortgages.

OFHEO, which sets the
conforming loan limit on an annual basis, has regulatory oversight to ensure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fulfill their charters and missions of promoting homeownership for lower income and middle class Americans. OFHEO uses the October to October percentage increase/decrease in average housing prices in the Monthly Interest Rate Survey of the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) to adjust the conforming loan limits for the subsequent year.

Loan Limits
Downloadable Documents
Historical Loan Limits
Loan Limit Look-Up Table

Related Links In:
FHFA Press Release: 2009 Conforming Loan Limits

2009 Single-Family Mortgage Loan Limits
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 changed Fannie Mae's charter to expand the definition of a "conforming" loan. Effective with the November 2008 release of the conforming loan limits, two sets of limits are provided for first mortgages -- general conforming loan limits, and high-cost area conforming loan limits.

The conforming loan limits apply to all conventional mortgages that are delivered to Fannie Mae on or after January 1, 2009. Please note that the 2009 general conforming loan limits are identical to the 2006, 2007, and 2008 conforming loan limits. The high-cost areas are determined by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The company may purchase loans up to $625,500 in designated high-cost areas.

Maximum Original Principal Balance
UnitsContiguous States, District of Columbia, and Puerto RicoAlaska, Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

*The limit may be lower for a specific high-cost area; use the Loan Limit Look-Up Table above to see limits by location.

Last Revised: January 12, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Credit Crisis in a Nutshell

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Stress Management

Stress Management from a friend and I love to share with you:

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 8oz. to 20oz. The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it."

"If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance."

"In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."

"So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work/life down. Don 't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow."

"Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. Relax; pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy!"

And then he shared some ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

1. Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days youʼre the statue.

2. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3. Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4. Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5. If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8. Never buy a car you can't push.

9. Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11. Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12. The second mouse gets the cheese.

13. When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

14. Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16. Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once. (you betcha)

17. We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today ! ! !

Sunday, February 15, 2009

U.S. Senate passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Wonder how you think about this Act? It should bring a good strong lifesaver dose to the housing market. Great news for first time homebuyers and investors !

Friday, February 13, 2009

Feb. 13, 2009

Dear C.A.R. Member:

Late this evening, the U.S. Senate passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 by a 60 to 38 vote. Earlier today, the stimulus package passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a 246 to 183 vote. Today’s votes followed several days of negotiations by the House, Senate, and White House, with the final tab for the stimulus bill coming in at $787.2 billion.

On the housing front, the good news is that the legislation resets the conforming loan limit cap at $729,750, up from $625,500. Numerous counties in California experienced a marked decrease in their conforming loan and FHA limits on Jan. 1, and the stimulus bill reinstates 2008 loan limits through Dec. 31, 2009.

The bill also increases the first-time home buyer credit from $7,500 to $8,000, and removes the requirement that the credit be paid back if the buyer stays in the home for at least three years. It also extends the expiration date for the credit from July 1 to Dec. 1, 2009. Homebuyers must have purchased a home after Jan. 1, 2009, and before Dec. 1, 2009, to be eligible for the $8,000 credit.

C.A.R. and NAR have long advocated for higher conforming loan limits. The conforming loan limit provisions and other housing elements in the stimulus package are a step in the right direction for our industry and all Californians.

The stimulus package also contains $308.3 billion in appropriations spending, including $120 billion on infrastructure and science and more than $30 billion on energy-related infrastructure projects. It also allocated an additional $267 billion for direct spending, including increased unemployment benefits and food stamps; and provides $212 billion in tax breaks for individuals and businesses.

Now that the stimulus package is approved and is on its way to President Obama for signature, it is our hope that Congress will turn its attention toward helping homeowners remain in their homes and will take immediate steps directed specifically at stemming the ongoing foreclosure crisis.

We’ll keep you updated on today’s news as more detailed information becomes available.

James Liptak
2009 President

C.A.R. e-Blasts are published by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a trade association representing nearly 200,000 REALTORS® statewide.

Executive offices:
525 South Virgil Ave., Los Angeles CA 90020
phone (213) 739-8200; fax (213) 480-7724

Legislative offices:
980 Ninth Street #1430, Sacramento CA 95814
phone (916) 492-5200; fax (916) 444-2033

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beautiful Saratoga New Home - Open House!

MLS: 80907003. Click for virtual tour.

Open house: 2/14 Sat 1:00-4:00, 2/15 Sun 1:00-4:00.

Contact Dr. Richard K. Ho for more details: prkho@drhorealty.com, (408)828-0189.

Click images below to enlarge: