Low prices boost SF home sales to 5-yaer Jan. high- Article from Mercury News

LOS ANGELES — Home sales in the San Francisco Bay area reached a five-year high for January, as prices and mortgage rates plunged, a real estate tracking firm reported Thursday.

However, many of those purchases involved properties that were subject to foreclosures or short sales, indicating the housing market is far from recovered.

The survey by San Diego-based DataQuick also showed the median sales price in the region fell nearly 3 percent last month from December to $326,000 — less than half the peak price of $665,000 reached in 2007 but up from the low of $290,000 recorded in 2009.

A total of 5,479 new and existing homes were sold in the nine-county area, according to DataQuick. The figure was down nearly 27 percent from December but marked a 10.3-percent improvement over January 2011.

The December-to-January drop was normal for the season, while the January-to-January jump showed real improvement, DataQuick said.

The year-over-year increase in January marked the seventh annual jump in a row, the firm said.

Home sales were buoyed by “lower prices, ultra-low mortgage rates, a modestly improved economy and a record level of investor purchases,” DataQuick said in a statement.

The lower median price in January was “a reflection of how skewed the market has become toward distressed, lower-cost properties,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in the statement.

“The higher-end sales have slowed in recent months as many struggle to qualify for loans and others just sit tight.”

Distressed property sales — the combination of foreclosure and short sales — made up more than half of all sales of existing homes. Absentee buyers, who mostly are investors, bought more than a quarter of all homes sold, DataQuick reported.


Our Opinion:

This information is a positive trend for our market and future home values.  The increase in buyer traffic has begun to stabilize our market.  We are still very driven by price.  The homes prices competitive and show well are selling with vigor, while these overprices just sit.

Greg Doyle-Lisa doyle-Greg and Lisa doyle-www.Thedoyleteam.com-san ramon homes-danville homes-bay area homes-Short Sale in San Ramon

Foreclosure process will be slow this year, firm predicts- Article by Mercury News (Pete Carey)

The number of homes entering foreclosure was at a three-year low in the Bay Area in January, a foreclosure tracking company reported Tuesday.

The drop, as well as the slow pace of actual foreclosure sales, makes it unlikely there will be any surge in foreclosures this year, the company said.

“January’s numbers should put to rest any notion that we will see a wave of foreclosures in 2012,” said Sean O’Toole, head of ForeclosureRadar, which published the report.

In fact, O’Toole said, “there is little chance of a wave this year even if all the banks started the foreclosure process en masse tomorrow.”

Although the numbers were up from a very slow December, the slow progress of banks in foreclosing

on defaulting borrowers has helped keep the inventory of homes for sale low. That’s made it hard for conventional buyers to find anything and increased already fierce competition among cash-paying investors.

According to the Discovery Bay company, it takes eight months for banks to auction off a house after sending the owner a default notice.

Banks canceled about half the scheduled auctions of homes in January in four Bay Area counties, either because of a short sale of the house — where the property is sold for less than what was owed on the mortgage, or because of trial loan modifications. Banks also rescheduled some auctions.

Just over 2,200 homeowners in Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda and San Mateo counties received

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notices of default in January, the first step in the foreclosure process. That was down from nearly 2,950 a year ago.

Nearly 1,500 homes in the four counties were sold in January to third-party investors who paid cash at courthouse auctions, or were taken back by banks after they failed to find a buyer. That was down from about 2,000 a year ago.

One of those foreclosures was Myrian Lonaker’s San Jose home. She said her home was unsuccessfully auctioned by Wells Fargo after she spent more than a year trying to work out a loan modification. Her original, interest-only loan was from World Savings, which was taken over by Wachovia, which was taken over by Wells Fargo.

Even though the bank hasn’t found a buyer for her home of 34 years, she has to leave it by next Wednesday. “I’m going to hang on, but I don’t know how yet,” she said.

A representative for Wells Fargo said they would contact Lonaker to see if anything else could be done to help her.

The declining number of foreclosure “starts” — notices of default — and the slow pace to bring these homes to auction has reduced the number of homes on the market. That’s made finding a home tough for buyers who compete with investors paying cash. Competition also is heating up among investors for foreclosed homes auctioned on courthouse steps, the company reported.

“Seasoned investors say competition is fierce,” said Michelle Lenahan of ForeclosureRadar. “We can only speculate that these are people looking to buy and hold because of the rental market that’s looking really good,” she said.

Another program that should keep more struggling homeowners in their homes was announced last week. Five large banks agreed to a $25 billion settlement with state attorneys general that will provide for refinancings and principal reductions for struggling borrowers who are current on their loan payments.


Our opinion:

We are very optimistic the new programs coming will assist struggling homeowners.  Most banks are really doing a better job encouraging short sales rather than foreclosure.  The number of investors flooding our lower end markets is a sign we’ve hit bottom or very near bottom.  The recovery is bound to take time, but we are seeing positive signs.

Greg Doyle-Lisa doyle-Greg and Lisa doyle-www.Thedoyleteam.com-san ramon homes-danville homes-bay area homes-Short Sale in San Ramon

Changes Impacting Your 2011 Taxes by Greg & Lisa Doyle, J. Rockcliff Realtors

Three out of four taxpayers receive a federal refund, and last year’s average refund totaled $2,805.  To help you maximize your refund, here are some tax law changes you should know about before filing this year’s return.

– Your federal return must be filed by Tuesday, April 17, 2012.  April 15 is a Sunday and Washington, D.C., is recognizing Emancipation Day April 16.  Do not use the extended deadline as an excuse to procrastinate, though.  When you rush, you are more likely to make errors that could cost you money and time.  Furthermore, filing, paying or providing information late will result in IRS penalties that have increased this year.

– Amounts for standard mileage, standard deductions, personal exemptions and the Alternative Minimum Tax have increased.  Note there are different standard mileage rates for miles driven before July 1 and after June 30.  Details about all increases are in IRS Publication 17 at www.irs.gov.

– Among the tax breaks available last year but expired for this year are the Making Work Pay Credit and Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit.  The Making Work Pay Credit was essentially replaced by the payroll tax holiday for 2011.

– Unless lawmakers extend them, this will be the last year to claim the following breaks:  Tuition and Fees Deduction, Non-business Energy Credit, the refundable Adoption Credit, Educator Expense Deduction, option for those with itemized deductions to deduct state and local sales taxes paid in lieu of state and local income taxes paid and mortgage insurance premiums deduction.

With so much of your money at stake and our complex tax law, it’s no wonder a growing number of Americans use tax preparation solutions.  When choosing a tax preparation solution, especially free products, carefully weight your options.




Greg Doyle-Lisa doyle-Greg and Lisa doyle-www.Thedoyleteam.com-san ramon homes-danville homes-bay area homes-Short Sale in San Ramon

Design Process: Principles of Design by Greg & Lisa Doyle, J. Rockcliff Realtors

Balance- When a sense of visual equilibrium is achieved in a room the design is balanced.  To achieve this, you need to think about the visual weight of the elements.  Balance in a room may be symmetrical or asymmetrical.  Few rooms are completely symmetrical, but there are often symmetrical elements, such as a centered fireplace or identical chairs facing each other.

Rhythm- The organized repetition of elements in a design scheme constitutes rhythm.  This repetition brings a sense of unity and continuity as your eye moves easily from one motif or area to another.  While the repeated elements must share a common trait, such as color, for a sense of unity they should also be varied to create visual interest.

Emphasis- Emphasis suggests making some elements in a design more significant than others.  If a work of art is the focal point in a room, for example, the furnishings and wall coverings should be subordinate.  Without emphasis, a room looks monotonous.

Scale- When the scale of a wall covering, for example, is in proportion to the overall size of the room, the room appears harmonious.  If the scale is too large for the room, the effect will be overpowering; if it’s too small, the design will look flimsy or weak.

Harmony- When both unity and variety exist in a room, harmony results.  A careful combining of colors, textures and patterns produces a unified whole.  Too much unity can be boring.  Variety- in just the right amount- contributes vitality and excitement to a room’s design.  It may be subtle, as in slight color variations, or it may be startling, as with sharply, as with sharply contrasting patterns.


Greg Doyle-Lisa doyle-Greg and Lisa doyle-www.Thedoyleteam.com-san ramon homes-danville homes-bay area homes-Short Sale in San Ramon

Moving Tips Make Task Easier By Greg & Lisa Doyle, J. Rockcliff Realtors

Buy moving boxes and packing tape in bulk to ensure adequate supply.

Provide food and water for movers to boost morale.  Tip them when job is done.

Move on nights or weekends to avoid using your work days off or vacations.

If you rent a truck, you need to have insurance.  Check to see if your homeowner’s policy covers possessions during the move.

Calculate gas expenses for each vehicle included in the move.

Calculate restaurant and hotel bills.

If 2 vehicles will be involved, get cell phones or walkie-talkies to ensure good communication on the road.


Greg Doyle-Lisa doyle-Greg and Lisa doyle-www.Thedoyleteam.com-san ramon homes-danville homes-bay area homes-Short Sale in San Ramon


There are so many different homes to choose from during the buying process.  How can you be sure to make the right choice?  You need to be sure to really give time to your decision making process.  Some homes take more work than others.  Double for older and foreclosed homes.  It is important to have an inspection done on any home you are considering buying.  You should also have a clause in your contract that states if the inspection comes back unsatisfactorily that you, the buyer, have the right to end the contract to buy.  Homeownership comes with its share of time intensive responsibilities.  Lawns and gardens need upkeep.  Repairs need to be made.  A condo can give you the location you desire without all of the extra maintenance you would find with a single-family home.  That means extra time for the things that really matter to you.  Condos can also have their downsides.  You will share walls, common areas, and amenities with neighbors.  If you are an extremely private person, then condo living may not be for you.  Do yo prefer a more isolated setting?  Many people love the idea of country life.  Just keep in mind that the further you are from people, the further you are from grocery stores, hospitals, and restaurants.  The real key is to decide what lifestyle is best for you and your family.   Once you have decided this, your will be able to zero on the best location.  Next, be sure to consider more than just the price tag of a home.  Consider upkeep costs, area taxes, needed repairs, and even future salability.  Do you due diligence and you are sure to make the right choice

Greg Doyle-Lisa doyle-Greg and Lisa doyle-www.Thedoyleteam.com-san ramon homes-danville homes-bay area homes-Short Sale in San Ramon