To Rent or To Own

To figure out which is better now, start with the fact that in the long run, the costs of owning and renting stay in fairly steady proportion.  Economists call this the price-to-rent ration- take the average cost of buying a house and divide it by what you’d pay in rent in a year.  Since 1986, the price-to-rent ratio for U.S. cities has averaged 16.5.  In other words, the price of a house is the same as what you’d pay to rent it over 16.5 years. ran the numbers for 54 metro areas and compared their current price-to-rent ratios to what their ratios have been over the past 16 years.  The result:  in 21 cities, renting still looks to be the better bargain. Among the renter-friendly outposts are Baltimore, Raleigh and Charlotte, NC; Salt Lake City; San Antonio; Trenton, NJ; Philadelphia; Honolulu; Seattle; and Portland, Ore.

The cities where houses for sale look inexpensive compared with rentals include: Cleveland, Phoenix, Vegas, Cincinnati and, in California, Oakland, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose. 

Don’t get hung up on the numbers though.  Owning a home doesn’t necessarily bring happiness.  You may be happier renting a home and living in a nicer area you can afford.  Maybe the calculus of ownership should include a measure of enjoying ourselves at home- whether it’s one we’ve rented or one we’ve bought. 

If we can help you with information on how to buy bank-owned homes, foreclosure homes at rock-bottom prices or help you with mortgage interest rates, questions or mortgage calculations, feel free to call us anytime.  We are happy to assist you with your loan modification or help you with your short sale.  You may use us as a resource for any Real Estate needs as well. 

How to buy a home with less than 20% down- Article From RPM Mortgage

The days of 100% financing with no documentation are gone, but with upgraded FHA loan guidelines, buyers can put as little as 3.5% down and obtain a conservative 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

FHA loans allow gift funds and/or co-signers and also allow sellers to credit buyers for closing costs.  FHA loans are stringent on borrower income and asset analysis as well as property analysis- especially on condos.

If you plan to use an FHA loan, make sure you are pre-approved by a direct lender.   Tell your lender about each property you’re serious about so they can examine potential property-specific issues before you write an offer. 

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions:

Are FHA loans even relevant for higher cost areas?  Yes, for example, in the 9 county S.F. Bay Area, FHA loan limits are $729,750.  With a 3.5% down payment, this translates into a $756,217 home purchase price.  On a condo with a $350 HOA fee, all-inclusive pretax monthly costs are $5486 and all-inclusive cash-to-close is $45,438.  With a 10% down payment, this translates into a $810,833 home purchase price.  On a single family home, all inclusive pretax monthly costs are $5289 and all-inclusive cash-to-close is $102,506.  Cash-to-close figures include 6mo prepaid taxes and 1yr prepaid insurance.  About $15,000 gross annual household is needed to qualify for these scenarios.

What are FHA home loans?  FHA home loans are mortgages best suited for borrowers with steady income but without 20% down payments, including first-time buyers, individuals or families trying to conserve cash, and early-career buyers.  They’re also well suited for borrowers with past credit problems.

What kinds of terms and rates are available?  The most common FHA terms are 30-year and 15-year fixed loans.  These loans have no prepayment penalties and are assumable.  FHA rates are the same and often lower than Conventional Conforming loans.

Can I use FHA loans for investment property or second homes?  No.  FHA loans are for owner-occupied property only.  Borrowers must move into the property within 60 days of closing a purchase, and must occupy the property for at least 1 year.

The Story of the Tortoise

Slow and steady (consistency) will prevail over the long haul.   The tortoise constantly evaluates his progress and becomes more efficient with every stride as it consistently moves towards his goal.   Where will you be in 10 years from now? If you do exactly what you did last week, every week for the next 10 years, where will you be personally, professionally, spiritually in you relationships with those you love and care about the most?  How will your health be?  What will your bank account look like in 10 years from today? 


If we can help you with information on how to buy bank-owned homes, foreclosure homes at rock-bottom prices or help you with mortgage interest rates, questions or mortgage calculations, feel free to call us anytime.  We are happy to assist you with your loan modification or help you with your short sale.  You may use us as a resource for any Real Estate needs as well. 

From the book "The Success Principles, How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want To Be"

Jack Canfield states “We Must Give Up All Excuses”

99% of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses. 

“To create the life of your dreams, you have to take 100% responsibility for your life.  You have to take the position that you have always had the power to make it different, to get it right, to produce the desired result.  For whatever reason- ignorance, lack of awareness, fear, needing to be right, the need to feel safe- you chose not to exercise that power.  Who knows why?  IT DOESN’T MATTER.  THE PAST IS THE PAST.  All that matters now is that from this point forward you choose- that’s right, it’s a choice- u choose to act as if (that’s all that’s required- to act as if) you are 100% responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen to you.

“Basically every outcome we experience in life is the result of how we respond to an earlier event or events in our life.  We have 2 basic choices:

1) Blame the event for our lack of results.  We blame all the external forces for the result- the economy, racism, gender bias, lack of support, the system, the weather, other people, etc., however, lots of people overcome these so-called limiting factors, so it can’t be the limiting factors that limit us.  It is not the external conditions and circumstances that stop us- it is us.  We think limiting thoughts and engage in self-defeating behaviors.  We waste time on the trivial, eat unhealthy food, fail to exercise, spend more money that we make, avoid necessary conflict, fail to tell the truth, don’t ask for what we want- and then wonder why our lives don’t work.

2) You can instead simply change your responses to the events- the way things are- until you get the outcomes you want.  You can change your thinking, change your communication, change the pictures you hold in your head and you can change your behavior- the things you do.  That is all you really have any control over anyway.  Unfortunately, most of us are so run by our habits that we never change our behavior.  We get stuck in our conditioned responses—everything we think, say, and do needs to become intentional and aligned with our purpose, our values and our goals.


We hope you enjoyed this reading material today.  Remember:

If we can help you with information on how to buy bank-owned homes, foreclosure homes at rock-bottom prices or help you with mortgage interest rates, questions or mortgage calculations, feel free to call us anytime.  We are happy to assist you with your loan modification or help you with your short sale.  You may use us as a resource for any Real Estate needs as well. 

"Whatever the Mind Can Conceive…

and believe, it can achieve,” is a great quote by Napoleon Hill.  Here is a great story to read:

We respond to what the brain, based on previous experience, expects to happen next.  Through a lifetime’s worth of events, our brain actually learns what to expect next, regardless of whether it happens that way or not.  Because our brain expects something will happen a certain way, we often achieve exactly what we anticipate.  In order to change that, begin to believe what we want is possible and positive, our brain will take over the job of accomplishing that for us. 

Another quote from Hill, “you can be anything you want to be, if only you believe with sufficient conviction and act in accordance with your faith.”  So what is it you believe for your own life, in this moment?  Do you have a vision and personal mission statement for yourself that you truly believe in- that absolutely resonantes with you at all levels of your being?  If, like most of us, you want to be happy, set a goal that “commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes” (quote by Andrew Carnegie, richest man in American in the early 1900’s).   If not, no better time than today to start.

I hope this article’s message was as powerful for you as it was for me!

If we can help you with information on how to buy bank-owned homes, foreclosure homes at rock-bottom prices or help you with mortgage interest rates, questions or mortgage calculations, feel free to call us anytime.  We are happy to assist you with your loan modification or help you with your short sale.  You may use us as a resource for any Real Estate needs as well. 


This was sent to me by a dear friend.  I liked it so much, I wanted to share it with you.  Enjoy!!!

Have you ever had a moment when someone describes how they see you, and inside you just say that is so not me?  This past week I had a few of those moments.  The circumstances were not that dramatic; however, it caused me to pause and ask myself why does this person see me that way?  Why do I project that ‘mask’ with other people?  Why do I, at some level, feel the need to hide behind that image; when if questioned, I know in the confines of my own being that is not the person I wish to be.  Why not choose thoughts, language and behavior that are consistent with my ‘authentic self?’

Over the past several weeks a dear friend encouraged me to ‘engage’ with people who cross my path; instead of moving past them trapped in my own little world.  She keeps reminding me that I’m better than that … and I should choose a different behavior.  My response was to deflect her question by ‘level shifting’ and moving on to a safer topic.  A few days later a peer asked my forgiveness for misjudging me – that my external tunnel vision was not the real person she experienced lately.  Although I appreciated the gesture, which was genuine and heart felt; I immediately went to asking myself why the incongruity between what I project and the real me?  Am I being ‘authentic’ in who I am and what I’m projecting to other people?  I guess the quick and dirty answer is no – not always.  I sometimes struggle with this part of my personality … something I am committed to changing!!

What does being ‘authentic’ mean for you?  Venturing outside my box, I asked a few people to share their view of what it meant to be their ‘authentic self.’  Conceptually most answered consistent with Dr. Phil’s definition “the authentic self is the ‘you’ that can be found at your absolute core.  It is the part of ‘you’ not defined by your job, function or role.  It is the composite of all your skills, talents and wisdom.  It is all of the things that are uniquely yours and need expression, rather than what you believe you are supposed to be, say and do.” 

Then as if on cue, people continued to reflect on the subject and it became obvious how they condition their responses to certain situations from a place of how other people expect them to respond.  Or they begin to rationalize their choices consistent to certain acceptable roles such as husband, wife, parent, boss, friend, man, woman, or business person, etc.  Oftentimes we live behind these ‘masks’ or roles without even recognizing how they compromise who we are at our core.  One author stated it succinctly by saying “do what you say and do who you are.”  In my personal affirmations, I summarize this sentiment by repeating “live passionately in the flow of life conscious and aware” and listen to my “inner voice.”  Over the years, I have personally concluded that when I fail to listen to my ‘inner voice’ a ‘parade of horribles’ inevitably occurs in my life. 

Dr. Carol Adrienne writes in her Article entitled “Authenticity” that “the voice of the authentic self seems to be the same as the intuitive voice, that quiet, but persistent voice that whispers new ideas to us in the middle of the night, on vacation, or after meditating.  Intuition speaks in short, clear messages that are qualitatively different from the repetitive mind chatter that makes us feel anxious.  Intuition tells us where the authentic choice is – for us.”  Dr. Adrienne continues by describing an interview with a client by asking the woman “what is the first step in identifying what she wants.”  The client answered the question in the negative by saying: “I don’t want to be dependent on anyone.  I don’t want to feel unsure of myself.  I don’t want to be tired all the time.  I don’t want to be negative, to always see the down side, or to expect the worst.  I don’t want to be a fearful worry-wart.  I don’t want to be a people-pleaser.  I don’t want to feel that I am not being authentic.” 

In the Article “Your Authentic Self,” Dr. Phil states that failing to live consistent to your authentic self creates this feeling of incompleteness, as if there is a “hole in your soul.”  When we continually live from this place we feed the “fictional self” that results in “draining the critical life energy we need to pursue the things we truly value.”  When we live consistent to our ‘fictional’ self we are “putting our trust in a broken compass.”  An interesting movie entitled The Compass (similar in presentation to The Secret) was released earlier this year focusing on living consistent to our inner guide or compass.

Dr. Suzanne Zoglio in her Article titled “Living Full – Living True: The Authentic Life” that “when you fashion a life where the decisions you make and the actions you take are considered, deliberate, and in harmony with what’s important to you, you are living an authentic life.  It is not necessarily a life that ‘others’ admire or think is right for you, but a life that you know in your heart is right for you.  It may not be a life that has been your habit, but it is a life that makes you greet each day with enthusiasm and sleep peacefully at night.”  Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements suggests a transformational path to get in alignment with your inner self and to live an authentic life by creating four agreements for yourself:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.  Carefully examine what you tell yourself, what you tell others, and when you decide to speak.  Speak with integrity.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.  It’s not all about you – reject the fallacy of personalization.  Rely on your own well-founded self-concept – be immune to the opinions and actions of other people and you will avoid being a victim.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.  Suspend judgment.  Carefully examine all the facts, acknowledge what you don’t know and have the courage to explore and ask questions.
  4. Always do your best.  Do all you can while you recognize you can’t do it all.  But by doing your best given the situation it will help you avoid self-judgment, self abuse and regret.

When you accept these agreements in your life you begin the work of transformation; the journey toward your authentic self will be your reality.  In the quietness of your own being ask yourself:  Is your behavioral life, your public persona, at odds with the values, beliefs, desires, passions and visions that define your authentic selfWhat ‘masks’ do you hide behind to shelter your authentic self from being present in the momentHow are you living a compromised existence?

I hope you enjoyed the reflection, and take the time to consider how you can live a more authentic life today and beyond.  Most of all I hope you make it a GREAT day and week!!

Fast and Affordable Weekend Home Upgrades

1) Install a new entryway door.  This can increase the perceived value of a home by up to $14,000.

2) Instal an energy efficient door if your home was built prior to 1939.   These homes use 50% more energy per square foot than those built after 2000.

3) Upgrade your home with layered lighting– a combination of ambient, task and accent lighting– to create a quality of light that not only looks and feels better, but is also better-suited to activities that can take place in any room.

4) You don’t have to spend loads of money on your lighting.  Light dimmers are available at hardware stores for a few dollars.  Before starting though, make sure you turn off the circuit breaker.

5) According to the Dept. of Energy, artificial lighting consumes almost 15% of a household’s electricity use.  Dimming an incandescent bulb by just 15% reduces energy use by 15% and doubles the life of the bulb.  The more you dim the light, the more energy you save.

6) Refresh your home with new paint.  A low-VOC (Volatile Organice Compound) and low odor paint can help ensure better indoor air quality, and it is manufactured using sustainable processes.

If we can help you with information on how to buy bank-owned homes, foreclosure homes at rock-bottom prices or help you with mortgage interest rates, questions or mortgage calculations, feel free to call us anytime.  We are happy to assist you with your loan modification or help you with your short sale.  You may use us as a resource for any Real Estate needs as well. 

Save On Summer Travel

Here are 5 tips for making the most of your summer vacation dollars:

1) Demand the most– From amusement parks and museums, to parks and recreation, look for a location with the greatest variety of accommodations, attractions, dining and shopping venues that your budget allows.

2) Find the freebies–Popular destinations often host free events and celebrations throughout the summer, and especially on holidays.

3) Don’t spend on the commute–Flying may still be the fastest way to go, but it is also the most expensive.  It will still be cheaper to drive to your destination.

4) Think alternative accommodations–Book a suite or rent a vacation home for a week.  Check with your accommodations to see what kinds of package deals they have available.

5) Don’t wait to make your move–Book now!  The earlier the better.

Short Sale Information

In this ever changing real estate market, many people have asked what is a short sale and how does it affect my credit if I sell my home when I owe more thatn it is worth?  This information should help you make the right decision for you:

How a Short Sale Affects Your Credit:

Homeowners who are in financial difficulties and facing foreclosure often opt for a short sale in order to escape the foreclosure process.  A short sale simple means that the amount of the mortgage balance owed is greater than the current market value of your home.  This is precisely the situation now across the U.S. where the sub prime adjustable rate morgage mess has caused mass foreclosures and significantly reduced the value of real estate.

A short sale takes place when the lender agrees to accept less than the amount you owe him on your mortgage because you don’t have enough equity to sell the home and pay all the costs of the sale.  And make no mistake, the lender must agree or you are out of luck.

Who makes a short sale happen?

Most banks and financial institutions will not be willing to negotiate a short sales.  Therefore, you will need the services of a good real estate agent or lawyer.  They will have to contact the bank’s loss mitigation dept. to find out if they will sell. And they may not.  If you are current on your payments, but have just lost your job or suffered a major family illness, the lender has little incentive for a short sale.  Moreover, if you are very far behind and there is a major arrearage, they will usually just let the foreclosure proceed.  The one exception might be if you are just one to three months behind and explain the situation properly, they lender may say yes.  That’s the Catch-22.  Keep in mind that if you have any cash assets, your lender may try to appropriate them to cure any default amount.

Consider the effect on your credit report

You will suffer much more damage to your credit report with a foreclosure than you will with a short sale.  It will also take longer to restore your credit rating once your financial difficulties are resolved. 

For a Foreclosure or Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure

Expect about the same things to take place.  Quite often this means a loss of between 200-280 points on your FICO score.  A pre-foreclosure FICO of 675 could drop to as low as 395, essentially eliminating you from futre credit approvals.  It may be as long as three years before you can qualify for another home loan.

For a Short Sale

Expect to suffer some credit score damage, but nowhere near as much.  Loss of FICO points will be around 75-125 and your report will show it listed as a ‘pre-foreclosure in redemption’ which is far less negative.  You will most likely be able to secure a new home loan in about a year and a half, depending upon the lending industry’s future parameters.

Article By Gautam Chinai, Sr. Vice President of California Morgage Advisors

Today’s Market by Greg Doyle

Homes in Danville and San Ramon are still selling.  In today’s market, real estate agents must continually recognize changes.  Home prices are still softening and sellers must be able to get the most current information from their realtor to make an informed decision.  This information can help sellers save thousands of dollars or more.  Realtors must be honest with homeowners.  Overpricing in this market can cost the homeowner time and money.  The good news is there are plenty of buyers waiting to purchase homes.  The news media bases their content on fear.  Negative reports on real estate help create the paranoia that is currently consuming the real estate market.  When buyers feel we are at or close to the bottom, the market should start improving.  This does not mean homes will start appreciating 10% or more each year.  Buyers will still be cautious and pricing will still be the most important aspect of selling your home.