News, Photos & Up-Comming Events of the CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes Sales & Marketing Team

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Monday, December 8, 2008

10 Steps to Owning Your Own Home Series - Make an Offer

REALTOR® groups, working with legal counsel, have developed forms that are appropriate for realty transactions in specific communities. Such documents include numerous sale conditions and their wording should be carefully reviewed to assure that they reflect the terms you want to offer. REALTORS® can explain the general contracting process in your community as well as his or her role.

While much attention is spent on offering prices, a proposal to buy includes both the price and terms. In some cases, terms can represent thousands of dollars in additional value for buyers -- or additional costs. Terms are extremely important and should be carefully reviewed.

How much?

You sometimes hear that the amount of your offer should be x percent below the seller's asking price or y percent less than you're really willing to pay. In practice, the offer depends on the basic laws of supply and demand: If many buyers are competing for homes, then sellers will likely get full-price offers and sometimes even more. If demand is weak, then offers below the asking price may be in order.

How do you make an offer?

The process of making offers varies around the country. In a typical situation, you will complete an offer that the REALTOR® will present to the owner and the owner's representative. The owner, in turn, may accept the offer, reject it or make a counter-offer.

Because counter-offers are common (any change in an offer can be considered a "counter-offer"), it's important for buyers to remain in close contact with REALTORS® during the negotiation process so that any proposed changes can be quickly reviewed.

How many inspections?

A number of inspections are common in residential realty transactions. They include checks for termites, surveys to determine boundaries, appraisals to determine value for lenders, title reviews and structural inspections.

Structural inspections are particularly important. During these examinations, an inspector comes to the property to determine if there are material physical defects and whether expensive repairs and replacements are likely to be required in the next few years. Such inspections for a single-family home often require two or three hours, and buyers should attend. This is an opportunity to examine the property's mechanics and structure, ask questions and learn far more about the property than is possible with an informal walk-through.

Speak to CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes REALTOR today. Contact our Monrovia office at 626.358.1858 or Glendora at 626.963.7621

Source: REALTOR.com w/Permission

Monday, December 1, 2008

10 Steps to Owning Your Own Home Series - Get Funding

Often the cost of real estate financing is routinely greater than the original purchase price of a home (after including interest and closing costs). Because financing is so important, buyers should have as much information as possible regarding mortgage options and costs.

Local REALTORS can provide mortgage information, discuss financing options and recommend loan sources.What kind of loan?There are thousands of loans available out there from a variety of lenders, but in general, the mortgage you choose will likely be determined by at least several key factors:
  • If you place less than 20 percent down, lenders will want the mortgage guaranteed by an outside third party such as the Veterans Administration (VA), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or a private mortgage insurer (PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is required by lender to protect against any mortgage defaults). More than 2.5 million VA, FHA and PMI loans are generated each year.
  • How's your credit? The best rates and terms are only available to those with solid credit. To get the best loans, make a point of paying credit cards, installment payments, rent and mortgage bills in full and on time.
  • Are you a first-time buyer? It might seem that "first-time buyer" means someone who has never owned property before, but under most state programs, the term refers to those who have not owned property within the past three years. State-backed first-timer programs often feature smaller downpayments and below-market interest rates. For details, speak with your local REALTOR®.

How do you get a loan?

To obtain a loan you must complete a written loan application and provide supporting documentation. Specific documents include recent pay stubs, rental checks and tax returns for the past two or three years if you are self-employed. During the prequalification procedure, the loan officer will describe the type of paperwork required.

Where do you get a loan?

Mortgage financing can be obtained from mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, savings and loan associations, mutual savings banks, commercial banks, credit unions, and insurance companies.

Source: REALTOR.com w/Permission

Monday, November 17, 2008

10 Steps to Owning Your Own Home Series - Choose A Home

There's no doubt that choosing a home is a big decision and you want to do it right.

As a buyer, here's what actually happens. A home has been placed on the market for which the seller has established an asking price as well as other terms. In effect, this is an offer. At this point, you have three choices: accept the seller's offer and create a contract; reject it and not make an offer; or suggest different terms and make a counter-offer. If you choose this last option, the seller may accept, reject or make a counter-offer.

No aspect of the homebuying process is more complex, personal or variable than bargaining between buyers and sellers. This is the point where the value of an experienced REALTOR® is clearly evident because he or she knows the community, has seen numerous homes for sale, knows local values and has spent years negotiating realty transactions.

Is it THE house?A house is shelter, but a home is far more. It's where you live, relax, entertain friends, raise families, and work. A home is where you spend much of your life, and so choosing a house is an enormous decision.

How do you know if a house is THE one? Probably the best approach is to look at as many homes as possible, something made easy at C21ab.net, where you can quickly and easily view huge numbers of homes, check prices, take video tours and view extensive neighborhood information. Once your choices have been narrowed, you can then contact a local CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes REALTOR® to find specific information and options.

Can you really afford it?Remember Step 2 - the preapproval process? Getting preapproved means you have a very good idea of how much you can borrow, what loan programs will most likely work best in your situation and how much home you can afford.

How reliable is a preapproval? While preapproval is not a loan commitment, it's still necessary for lenders to check such items as appraisals and the latest credit reports. Despite fluctuating interest rates, preapproval nonetheless provides a reasoned, careful analysis of what you can afford. After all, loan officers are routinely paid only when loans are originated. It doesn't make much sense for loan officers to suggest high loan limits that later can't be delivered.

To speak with a CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes REALTOR today and receive assistance in choosing a home, contact us at Monrovia: 626.358.1858 or Glendora: 626.963.7621

Monday, November 10, 2008

10 Steps to Owning Your Own Home Series - Look At Homes

Millions of new and existing homes are sold each year. There's no shortage of housing options, but with so many choices the challenge becomes finding the property which best meets your needs.

The housing market is complicated because the stock of homes for sale is always in flux. If it were possible to have a complete list of every home for sale at this very moment in a given community, such a list would become obsolete within seconds as new homes become available and properties now for sale are put under contract.

In effect, buyers are looking at a moving target in a marketplace that is never static. Because of this, it is important to know as much as possible about the choices in preferred markets, and the way to do that is by working closely with a local REALTOR® who has a good "lay of the land."

What are you looking for?A home is more than just a collection of bedrooms and bathrooms. Several properties -- each with four bedrooms, three baths, and the same price -- may well represent radically different designs, commuting distances, lot sizes, tax costs, interior dimensions, and exterior finishes.

Each of us is different and so it's important to list the features and benefits you want in a home. Consider such things as pricing, location, size, amenities (extras such as a pool or extra-large kitchen) and design (one floor or two, colonial or modern, etc.).

Next, it's important to consider your priorities. If you can't get a home at your price with all the features you want, then what features are most important? For instance, would you trade fewer bedrooms for a larger kitchen? A longer commute for a bigger lot and lower cost?
Lastly, consider your needs in several years. If you'll need a larger home, maybe now is the time to buy a bigger house rather than moving or expanding in the future. If you expect your income to increase, perhaps you should consider a more expensive home financed with a loan program where monthly payments increase in the future.

Where should you look?All neighborhoods and communities have a special nature that gives them identity and value. One community may be well known for historic homes while another offers both suburban living as well as easy access to downtown office areas.
REALTOR.com® offers millions homes online. By any standard, it's the largest source for property information online or off. You can look at homes to contact listing brokers, and you can also search Realtor.com to find brokers who offer buyer representation services.
How do you find a house?Some buyers like to search REALTOR.com® by looking at listings on the basis of location or price; others prefer to have local REALTORS® suggest properties; and many buyers prefer both approaches.

Regardless of your choice, it's important to target your search. By using basic measures such as general location and affordability, you can refine your search and focus on homes that offer the most desirable features.

As a guide, you should maintain a file with information on each of the homes you like. Remember to work with your CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes REALTOR® for more comprehensive information about homes and listings in the area.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

10 Steps to Owning Your Own Home Series - Get Loan Pre-Approval

Few people can buy a home for cash. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), nearly nine out of 10 buyers in 1999 financed their purchase, which means that virtually all buyers -- especially first-time purchasers -- required a loan.

The real issue with real estate financing is not getting a loan (virtually anyone willing to pay lofty interest rates can find a mortgage). Instead, the idea is to get the loan that's right for you -- the mortgage with the lowest cost and best terms.

REALTORS® routinely suggest that consumers start the mortgage process well before bidding on a home. Many lenders (the sources of money) and programs, for example, are available right here in the finance section of Homestore.com as well as through recommendations from local REALTORS®. By meeting with lenders -- either online or face to face -- and looking at loan options, you will find which programs best meet your needs and how much you can afford.
REALTORS® also recommend preapprovals for another reason: Purchase forms often require buyers to apply for financing within a given time period, in many cases, seven to 10 days. By meeting with loan officers in advance and identifying mortgage programs, it won't be necessary to quickly find a lender, check credit, and rush into a financing decision that may not be the best option.

What is it?"Preapproval" means you have met with a loan officer, your credit files have been reviewed and the loan officer believes you can readily qualify for a given loan amount with one or more specific mortgage programs. Based on this information, the lender will provide a preapproval letter, which shows your borrowing power. You can visit as many lenders as you like and get several preapprovals, but keep in mind that each one carries with it a new credit check, which will show up on future credit reports.

Although not a final loan commitment, the preapproval letter can be shown to listing brokers when bidding on a home. It demonstrates your financial strength and shows that you have the ability to go through with a purchase. This information is important to owners since they do not want to accept an offer that is likely to fail because financing cannot be obtained.

How do you get preapproval?Real estate financing is available from numerous sources, including lenders here in the finance section of Homestore.com, mortgage companies that have worked with local REALTORS® and in some cases, individual REALTORS® themselves. Based on his or her experience, the REALTOR® may suggest one or more lenders with a history of offering competitive programs and delivering promised rates and terms.

The loan officer will carefully review your financial situation, including your credit report and other information. The lender will then suggest programs which most-closely meet your needs. For instance, a first-time buyer may qualify for state-backed mortgage programs with little money down and low interest rates, while a repeat purchaser (someone who has bought a home before) with more equity (money invested in the home) might want to get a 15-year loan and the lower overall interest costs it represents. Typically, first-time buyers opt for the traditional 30-year loan, with either a floating interest rate or a fixed rate of interest over the life of the loan.

To speak with a mortgage loan professional today, contact Boulevard Mortgage at www.blvdmort.com

Thursday, October 30, 2008

10 Steps to Owning Your Own Home Series - Get A REALTOR®

More than 2 million people in the United States have earned real estate licenses. However, real estate is a tough business with a steep dropout rate, and the result is that only a small percentage of those with licenses actively help buyers and sellers.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) includes 1 million brokers and salespeople, individuals bound together with a strong Code of Ethics, extensive training opportunities and a wealth of community information. NAR members are routinely active in PTAs, local government committees and a variety of neighborhood organizations. Being actively involved in community affairs provides REALTORS® with a better understanding of the area in which they are selling.
Why?Buying and selling real estate is a complex matter. At first it might seem that by checking local picture books or online sites you could quickly find the right home at the right price.
But a basic rule in real estate is that all properties are unique. No two properties -- even two identical models on the same street -- are precisely and exactly alike. Homes differ and so do contract terms, financing options, inspection requirements and closing costs. Also, no two transactions are alike.

In this maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who know the community and much more. Those professionals are the local REALTORS® who serve your area.

How do you choose?In every community you're likely to find a number of realty brokerages. Because there is heated competition, local REALTORS® must fight hard to succeed in your community.

The best place to find a local REALTOR® is from REALTOR.com's® extensive listing of community professionals and properties. Other sources include open houses, local advertising, Web sites, referrals from other REALTORS®, recommendations from neighbors and suggestions from lenders, attorneys, financial planners and CPAs. The experiences and recommendations of past clients can be invaluable.

In many cases buyers will interview several REALTORS® before selecting one professional with whom to work. These interviews represent a good opportunity to consider such issues as training, experience, representation and professional certifications.

What should you expect? (Working with a REALTOR®)Once you select a REALTOR® you will want to establish a proper business relationship. You likely know that some REALTORS® represent sellers while others represent buyers. Each REALTOR® will explain the options available, describe how he or she typically works with individuals and provide you with complete agency disclosures (the ins and outs of your relationship with the agent) as required in your state.

Once hired for the job, the REALTOR® will provide you with information detailing current market conditions, financing options and negotiating issues that might apply to a given situation. Remember: Because market conditions can change and the strategies that apply in one negotiation may be inappropriate in another, this information should not be set in stone. During your time in the marketplace REALTORS® will keep you updated and alert you to each step in the transaction process.

CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes takes pride that its agents are part of the REALTOR community. To speak to a CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes REALTOR, contact us today at 626.358.1858 / Monrovia and 626.963.7621 in Glendora. or visit us online at www.c21ab.net

Monday, October 20, 2008

1. Are You Ready? - 10 Steps to Home Ownership

One of the keys to making the homebuying process easier and more understandable is planning. In doing so, you'll be able to anticipate requests from lenders, lawyers and a host of other professionals. Furthermore, planning will help you discover valuable shortcuts in the homebuying process.
  • Do You Know What You Want? - Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or entering the marketplace as a repeat buyer, you need to ask why you want to buy. Are you planning to move to a new community due to a lifestyle change or is buying an option and not a requirement? What would you like in terms of real estate that you do not now have? Do you have a purchasing timeframe?
    Whatever your answers, the more you know about the real estate marketplace, the more likely you are to effectively define your goals. As an interesting exercise, it can be worthwhile to look at the questions above and to then discuss them in detail when meeting with local REALTORS®.
  • Do You Have The Money? - Homes and financing are closely intertwined. (Financing is the difference between the purchase price and the downpayment, commonly referred to as debt or the mortgage.) The good news is that over the years new and innovative loan programs have evolved which require a 5 percent downpayment or less. In fact, a number of programs now allow purchasers to buy real estate with nothing down.
    In addition to a down payment, purchasers also need cash for closing costs (the final costs associated with closing the loan). Several newly emerging loan programs not only allow the purchase of a home with no money down, but also underwrite closing costs.
    Not everyone, however, elects to purchase with little or no money down. Less money down means higher monthly mortgage payments, so most homebuyers choose to buy with some cash up front.
    As to closing costs, in markets where buyers have leverage, it may be possible to negotiate an offer for a home that requires the owner to pay some or all of your settlement expenses. Speak with local REALTORS® for details.
  • Is Your Financial House in Order? - Those great loans with little or nothing down are not available to everyone: You need good credit. For at least one year prior to purchasing a home, you should assure that every credit card bill, rent check, car payment and other debt is paid in full and on time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

BUSH ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHES "HOPE FOR HOMEOWNERS" PROGRAM TO HELP MORE STRUGGLING FAMILIES KEEP THEIR HOMES

WASHINGTON - The Bush Administration unveiled additional mortgage assistance for homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The HOPE for Homeowners program will refinance mortgages for borrowers who are having difficulty making their payments, but can afford a new loan insured by HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

"For families struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments, this program will be another resource to refinance into a loan they can afford," said HUD Secretary Steve Preston. "FHA remains a safe and affordable alternative to the high-priced mortgage loans that threaten homeowners' ability to retain their homes. We strongly encourage borrowers to work with their lenders to determine if HOPE for Homeowners is the right program for them."

The HOPE for Homeowners program was authorized by the Economic and Housing Recovery Act of 2008. Since the President signed this vital legislation into law on July 30, 2008, the HOPE for Homeowners Board of Directors has worked diligently to develop and implement the program as directed by Congress. The Board was charged with establishing underwriting standards to ensure borrowers, after any write-down in principal, have a reasonable ability to repay their new FHA-insured mortgage.

The HOPE for Homeowners program begins today and ends September 30, 2011. The program is available only to owner occupants and will offer 30-year fixed rate mortgages - so the borrower's last payment will be the same as the first payment. In many cases, to avoid what would be an even costlier foreclosure, banks will have to write down the existing mortgage to 90 percent of the new appraised value of the home.

Borrower Eligibility

Borrowers are encouraged to contact their lender to determine eligibility, but may be eligible if, among other factors:
  • The home is their primary residence, and they have no ownership interest in any other residential property, such as second homes.
  • Their existing mortgage was originated on or before January 1, 2008, and they have made at least six payments.
  • They are not able to pay their existing mortgage without help.
  • As of March 2008, their total monthly mortgage payments due were more than 31 percent of their gross monthly income.
  • They certify they have not been convicted of fraud in the past 10 years, intentionally defaulted on debts, and did not knowingly or willingly provide material false information to obtain their existing mortgage(s).

How the HOPE for Homeowners program works.

"HOPE for Homeowners will add to HUD's existing efforts to make FHA refinancing available to homeowners who need it most," said FHA Commissioner Brian D. Montgomery. "One year ago, FHA expanded refinancing into its FHASecure program. Since that time, we have helped more than 360,000 families keep their homes by refinancing with FHA, and we will assist a total of 500,000 families by the end of this year."

The Board expects that the primary way homeowners will participate in the program is by working with their current lender. HOPE for Homeowners will serve as another loss mitigation tool available to distressed borrowers.

HOPE for Homeowners also includes the following provisions:

  • The loan amount may not exceed a maximum of $550,440.
  • The new mortgage will be no more than 90 percent of the new appraised value including any financed Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium.
  • The Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium is 3 percent and the Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium is 1.5 percent.
  • The holders of existing mortgage liens must waive all prepayment penalties and late payment fees.
  • The existing first mortgage must accept the proceeds of the HOPE for Homeowners loan as full settlement of all outstanding indebtedness.
  • Existing subordinate lenders must release their outstanding mortgage liens.
  • Standard FHA policy regarding closing costs applies, and they may be:

Financed into the new loan provided the value of the mortgage (including the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium) does not exceed 90 percent of the new appraised value of the home.

Paid from the borrowers' own assets.

Paid by the servicing lender or third party (e.g., federal, state, or local program).

Paid by the originating lender through premium pricing.

  • The borrower must agree to share with FHA both the equity created at the beginning of this new mortgage and any future appreciation in the value of the home.
  • The borrower cannot take out a second mortgage for the first five years of the loan, except under certain circumstances for emergency repairs.
    The lender will disclose to the homeowner the benefits of the program including home retention, a new affordable mortgage based on the current appraised value, and 10 percent equity.

The lender will also explain the prohibition against new junior liens against the property unless directly related to property maintenance, and a minimum of 50 percent equity and appreciation sharing with the Federal government.

The costs to the homeowner include the upfront and annual insurance premiums, as well as a share of the equity created by the write-down associated with the HOPE for Homeowners mortgage and any future appreciation in the value of the home. At settlement, subordinate lien holders will receive a certificate that evidences their interest as an obligation backed by HUD, with payment conditional on the value of HUD's appreciation share.

If the home is sold or refinanced, the homeowner will share the equity with FHA on a sliding scale ranging from a 100 percent FHA share after the first year to a minimum of 50 percent after five years. The lien holder that previously held the highest priority will receive payment up to a proportion of its original interest, not to exceed the amount of available appreciation. This type of delayed payoff will take place until all prior lien holders are satisfied or the amount of available appreciation is exhausted. All remaining appreciation is remitted to FHA.

The HOPE for Homeowners Board of Directors includes HUD Secretary Steve Preston, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair. They have named the following people to serve on the board as their designees: FHA Commissioner and Chairman of the Board Brian Montgomery, Federal Reserve Board Governor Elizabeth Duke, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy Phillip Swagel, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Director Tom Curry.

Read more about HOPE for Homeowners at www.hud.gov/hopeforhomeowners

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tudor Revival (1890-1940)

Most Tudor houses have stucco, masonry, or masonry-veneered walls. In authentic Tudor construction, the actual timber framework of the building is left exposed, and the spaces between the timbers are filled or "nogged" with brickwork and often covered with white stucco. This creates a unique style sometimes known as a "black and white" house.

The popular name of "Tudor Revival" for this style is a misnomer, since relatively few examples resemble the transitional medieval-to-Renaissance designs of England's Tudor period (1500s). When the Tudor wave began in America, it was actually a Medieval Revival style derived from prototypes that ranged from humble thatched-roof folk cottages to grand manor houses. As it developed, it began to imitate the English historical style with greater accuracy and became known as the New English Tudor style.

The popular name of "Tudor Revival" for this style is a misnomer, since relatively few examples resemble the transitional medieval-to-Renaissance designs of England's Tudor period (1500s). When the Tudor wave began in America, it was actually a Medieval Revival style derived from prototypes that ranged from humble thatched-roof folk cottages to grand manor houses. As it developed, it began to imitate the English historical style with greater accuracy and became known as the New English Tudor style.

Identifying features:

  • Façade dominated by one or more prominent cross gables, sometimes with half-timbering.

  • Massive chimneys, commonly crowned by decorative chimney pots.

  • Tall, narrow windows, commonly in multiple groups and with multiplane glazing.

  • Steeply pitched roof, usually side-gabled.

  • Entry has rounded arch or flattened, pointed (Tudor) arch.

Source: REALTOR.com with Permission

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes Recognizes Baker & Snider Sales Team with Top Producing Honors

For the third straight quarter, the sales team of Jerry Baker and Connie Snider posted top production honors. The announcement was made earlier this month at the company’s Marketing & Sales Meeting where the team was awarded the Top Sales award for the month of August. The distinction continues a streak of impressive sales volume in 2008 and high marks in customer satisfaction.

“CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes is pleased to recognize Baker & Snider with this honor. Their efforts as leaders and innovators have empowered local homebuyers and sellers with valuable information, helping them to make informed real estate decisions,” said General Manager Hugo Torres of CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes.

“Our office” continued Torres “consistently receives letters of appreciation from the buyers and sellers Jerry and Connie represent. Their commitment to their clientele is uncanny and we’re proud of their efforts and this is why they continue to achieve high sales marks.”

Snider and Baker have accomplished their streak by focusing on key markets and clientele needs. Their attraction, research and study of Fine Homes and Estates in the San Gabriel Valley have led them to represent some of the most lucrative real estate listed by CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes in 2008. The team has also made a name for themselves as aggressive marketers who approach sales as a combination of internet, hands-on, periodical and word-of-mouth promotions.

Located at in Monrovia, Ca, CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes is a full service brokerage specializing in Residential, Commercial, Luxury and Relocation Properties. To learn more about Jerry and Connie, visit their site today at bakerandsnider.com or by phone Jerry 626.233.0620 or Connie 626.253.6392.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Colonial Revival (1880 - 1940)

In its early phase (1880-1915) the Colonial Revival tended to involve grandiose structures that incorporated designs characteristic of the original Colonial style: Palladian windows, gambrel roofs, pedimented porticos, columns, classical detailing such as swags and urns and crisp, white trim. While these larger homes showed more restraint than did the showier Chateauesque and Romanesque styles, they were rarely historically correct copies. It wasn't until later, between 1915 and 1935, that Colonial Revival fashion shifted toward a truer facsimile of the Colonial prototype.
In the 1940s and '50s, a further simplification was made (largely due to the depression and changing postwar fashions), and Colonial Revivals were built that only suggested, rather than replicated, their Colonial predecessors.

The Colonial Revival style began after the American Centennial in 1876. It was then that the public developed a new fascination with their Colonial roots. The anti-England sentiment that had spawned the Greek Revival had largely abated, and American expatriates found themselves suddenly hungering for their homeland. By the 1890s, architects could not build houses that fed that nostalgic fervor fast enough, and the Colonial Revival became a staple of American domestic design. It continues in all its various forms and deviations to this day.

Identifying features:

  • Front door accentuated with decorative crown and/or entry porch.
  • Façades with symmetrically balanced windows and centered door.
  • Windows with double-hung sashes, usually with multiplane glazing in one or both sashes.
  • Windows frequently in adjacent pairs or triples

Monday, September 22, 2008

Increased home sales may be sign of recovery.

By: Kevin Smith and Sandra Emerson, Staff Writers - San Gabriel Valley Tribune / Published Sunday September 21, 2008

As Washington lawmakers spend the weekend hammering out what may be the largest financial bailout in U.S. history, local real estate experts say the Southern California housing market may be bottoming out.

After more than a year of plummeting prices, sales in Southern California counties picked up in July and August over the same months last year, according to statistics released last week.

"It's a slight but steady monthly uptick," said Tom Adams, owner of Century 21 Adams & Barnes in Glendora and Monrovia. "But it's continuing, and once we get past the election, I think it will uptick even more."

A total of 19,366 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in Southern California in August - down slightly from July but up 9 percent from August 2007.

At the same time, home prices fell 34 percent from a year earlier to $330,000.

"Borrowers who thought they would never buy a house are buying some very nice homes," said Dave Coy, a Realtor for Century 21 in Redlands. "There are payments out there right now for buyers to purchase a nice home for $300 a month less on an FHA loan than what the going rent is."

Even with sales improving, however, experts don't expect a quick turnaround in the market. Prices may continue to decline and level off as sales increase.

The nation's financial markets also continue to struggle under the the historic debt left in the wake of record defaults, leading many experts to compare the state of today's markets to the days leading up to the Great Depression.

Twelve federally insured banks have failed this year, and the federal government has committed hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to prop up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and American Insurance Group, Inc.

On Friday, President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asked Congress to approve hundreds of billions more to buy bad debt from struggling banks and financial institutions. Some experts think the government bailout could top a trillion dollars.

Real estate experts are divided as to what immediate impact the government's bailout plan for Wall Street will have on the housing market.

Adams is optimistic.

"If all of that bad debt could be shuffled off to the corner, the rest of the financial world could return to some kind of normalcy," he said. "Right now, people are having a lot of trouble getting loans. But this would allow lenders to soften up a little bit ... and maybe have some middle-of-the-road guidelines that make more sense."

Adams stressed, however, that all of the debt would have to be removed.

"The costs associated with with insuring the risk has gone through the roof," he said.

But government bailout or not, Adams said sales in his area already have picked up.

"We've got one home we're working on where we got our sixth offer this week," he said. "Two of those were all-cash offers. When you start seeing multiple offers mixed in with all-cash offers - which we're starting to see - that's a good indicator that if we're not at the bottom, we're close enough that smart money is coming back into the market."

Steve Johnson, director of the Riverside office of Metrostudy, said most of the recent activity in Southern California's real estate market has been at the bottom end as more bargain hunters jump back in seeking good deals.

"There are lots of Americans out there who are great bargain shoppers," he said. "They've waited on the sidelines and now they're snatching up homes. And it's a lot easier to qualify for a $200,000 home than to try for a home that's $600,000 to $800,000 with a jumbo loan."
Johnson figures the housing market can't get much lower.

"Are we near the bottom? We're probably very close at this point in regard to the volume of activity," he said. "The problem is in San Bernardino and Riverside counties about 58 percent of the home sales are foreclosed properties."

Chris Vigil, a broker with Keller Williams in Whittier, said he's seeing increased activity as well.
"We're in a good market now," he said. "A lot of buyers who have been sitting on the fence waiting are coming out now."

In some cases, the increased interest is pushing home prices higher, Vigil said.

"We're getting multiple bids on some of these properties," he said. "We had a house in Santa Fe Springs that listed for $300,000 and it ended up selling for $410,000."

Coy believes the drop in home prices is a much-needed correction.

So will the government's bailout plan for banks pump new life into the real estate market? "I think it's all lip service," Vigil said. "Earlier in the year when they raised the FHA loan cap to $719,000 they made all of this hoopla about it. But we didn't see anything happen. Trying to get someone to qualify for a loan is still a lot of work."

Vigil said most lenders have been burned by bad loans and are being overly cautious.


"The underwriters will still be reluctant to write loans," he said. "But I think we're seeing the bottom. All signs indicate it won't get much lower. And by the time we know what the bottom is ... prices will be going up."

Southland economist Christopher Thornberg, a principal with Beacon Economics, doesn't think the government's multibillion-dollar rescue plan for banks will do much for the housing market.

"Liquidity is not relevant - it's not the problem," he said. "People just bought homes they couldn't afford, and they couldn't refinance because they couldn't pay their mortgages."
The housing market is choking because home prices were artificially inflated, Thornberg said, putting them well beyond the reach of average buyers.

Prices have fallen significantly over the past year, he said, but they still have a ways to go.

"Falling prices will create liquidity and then a lot more people will qualify," Thornberg said. "In terms of a recovery, we're halfway there. Prices had to fall 40 percent just to get back in line with historic norms. I think things will bottom out when they fall 50 percent."

Edward Leamer, an economist at UCLA, has his own theory about what needs to happen.

Rather than reward Wall Street investors for making bad decisions and exposing taxpayers to hundreds of billions in losses, Leamer said the government should be providing incentives for first-time homebuyers to get into the real estate market.

In Washington, Democrats appeared likely to push for additional help for homeowners before sending legislation to Bush as soon as next week.

Of the 1,682 houses on the market in Fontana, 422 are real estate-owned properties and 628 are short sales, said Bill Velto, managing broker for Tarbell Realtors in Upland.

"That's about two-thirds of the properties in Fontana," he said.

Still, Velto said, lower prices finally are translating into more sales.

"It's good news because about 20 percent of properties are selling every 30 days," he said. "It's an indication that properties are moving."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Ranch House (1932-1980)

"The ability to move in and out of your house freely, without the hindrance of steps, is one of the things that makes living in it pleasant and informal." -- Sunset magazine's 1946 edition on Western Ranch HousesThe Ranch Style, also known as the California Ranch, Texas Ranch or Western Ranch Style, was the ultimate symbol of the postwar American dream: a safe, affordable home promising efficiency and casual living. The style is loosely based on early Spanish Colonial precedents of the American southwest, modified by influences borrowed from Craftsman and Prairie modernism of the early 20th century.


The Ranch Style became become the dominant style throughout the country during the decades of the '50s and '60s. In the 1950s almost any one-story, close-to-the-ground, rambling house was called a California ranch house. With its open kitchen/living area, the ranch was specifically geared to casual entertaining. Another key selling point was the desirable indoor/outdoor living promised by the one-story layout, which featured glass doors, picture windows, and terraces and patios secluded in a rear yard. Having the ability to move freely about the house, without steps, into large private porches and patios from almost every room was living the "good life". Gone was the street-oriented Victorian front porch; that was replaced by a private rear one. The garage also became an integral part of this house design.

The popularity of "rambling" ranch houses was made possible by the country's increasing dependence on the automobile which in turn, created the suburb. Because land was cheap, homebuyers were able to buy larger lots. Larger lots meant bigger homes so the sprawling house, a.k.a. the Ranch Style, was born.

A variation of the Ranch style, the Split Level rose to popularity during the 1950s. This multi-story modification retained the horizontal lines and low-pitched roof of the Ranch house, but added another story in such a way as to create three floor levels of interior space. This addition served to create "quiet" and "noisy" areas that many families in the newly emerged TV area were seeking.

Identifying features:
  • Asymmetrical one-story design.
  • Low-pitched roof, with the hipped version the most common.
  • Moderate or wide eave overhang.
  • Partially enclosed courtyards or patios.
  • Large picture windows.
  • Built of local materials (wood, stucco, brick, or stone)
  • Shaped like an L or U and surrounds a patio.
  • Large expanses of glass.
  • Visible inclusion of cars, children's play areas, etc.

Source: REALTOR.com with Permission

Monday, September 15, 2008

Streamline Moderne (1920-1949)

"Simple lines are modern. They are restful to the eye and dignified and tend to cover up the complexity of the machine age…they allow us to feel ourselves master of the machine." Paul T. Frankel.




Art Deco and its derivation, the strikingly designed Streamline Moderne, were two of the more dramatic examples of American architecture that broke with the tradition of reviving historical styles. While Art Deco captured the spirit of the moment, the modern age, Streamline Moderne offered a glimpse of the future. It was this vision of a near-Utopian, sci-fi world that helped to lift the American public out of the gloom of the Depression.


The Streamline Moderne's unique style boasted a fully automated world in which machines, controlled by man, were everywhere -- and yet, at the same time, virtually invisible. Even the building's mechanical system was invisible: pipes, ducts, electrical conduits, and air-conditioning units were all hidden behind a smooth exterior.


This ultra-modern style displayed an intense fascination with speed. Its visual vocabulary (the curve, the teardrop and the uninterrupted horizontal line) was derived largely from the form of high-speed modern transportation machines: the airplane, the automobile and even the ocean liner. A rapid sense of movement was imparted by narrow horizontal bands of windows that often wrapped around corners and by horizontal layering on the building's façade that used changes in colors or materials. For the limited number of Americans who could afford to build, a Streamline Moderne made them appear progressive, scientific, and avant-garde.

Identifying features:
  • Surfaces of concrete, stucco, or metal.
  • Horizontal rectangular container.
  • Facades asymmetrically composed.
  • Accents in terra cotta, glass block.
  • Dramatic rounded corners, semicircular bays and other details suggesting motion.
  • Small round windows reminiscent of portholes on yachts and ocean liners.
  • Metal window frames and doors

Source: REALTOR.com with Permission

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Craftsman Bungalow (1905 - 1930)

The bungalow was the dominant style for smaller houses built throughout the country during the period from about 1905 until the early 1920s. The Craftsman, the most popular style of bungalow, originated in Southern California and quickly spread-via pattern books and popular magazines-throughout the rest of the country. Anyone, anywhere, as long as they lived near a train depot, could pick a bungalow style out of a Sears Roebuck or Aladdin Redi-Cut catalog and have the whole house-plumbing and all-shipped to them.

The roots of the American bungalow are found in the Indian province of Bengal. Eighteenth-century one-story huts with thatched roofs were adapted by the British, who used them as houses for colonial administrators. In the 19th century, the "bangla" or bungalow's economy of space, simplicity of form, and closeness to nature inspired the English architects for the Arts and Crafts (Craftsman) movement.

Some people believe that the bungalow is indeed the true American house, giving a physical place for such bedrock family values as practicality, simplicity, and openness. "It was in Southern California that the bungalow…found its true home," said the authors of Architecture in Los Angeles. "Here a young family on the make, a sick family on the mend, or an old family on meager savings could build a woodsy place in the sun with palm trees and a rose garden. The California bungalow, whatever its size or quality of workmanship, was the closest thing to a democratic art that has ever been produced."

Indentifying features:
  • Low-pitched, gabled roof (occasionally hipped), with wide, unenclosed eave overhang.

  • Roof rafters usually exposed.

  • Decorative beams or braces under gables.

  • Porch support bases extending to ground level (without break at level of porch floor).

  • Porch supports usually squared and sometimes slanting inward.

Source: REALTOR.com with Permission

Friday, September 5, 2008

How To Buy A Home

Here’s some good news for homebuyers: this bad market is actually a great market for homebuyers. If you have been waiting on the sidelines because you couldn’t afford a house, now is the time to get into the game. With housing prices going down, it’s a good time to get your money together, get in the marketplace and start asking questions.

What can I afford?

  • You only want to spend one third of your gross income—that’s income before taxes—on your home. Here’s why: there are lots of other costs beside your mortgage that you have to think about—insurance, maintenance, and taxes.
  • It’s important to really take a hard look at all your numbers to make sure you have a handle on what you can truly afford.

How much should I put down?

  • You should try to put 20% down, but no more. This shows lenders that you are a serious buyer and they will be more likely to give you good terms (provided you have a good credit score).
  • Most people find that once they buy their house there are a lot of other costs involved that many don’t expect. For example, you may have to repair something—your roof, your furnace, etc.
  • It’s better to have enough money on hand to deal with unforeseen expenses that arise.

How do I find a home in my price range?

  • Most people, especially women, search on the web first to find a home—it’s a great place to start to see what you can afford.
  • All the major broker houses (www.c21ab.net) will have web sites and you’ll easily be able to sort through houses to see what that appeals to you in your price range.

How important is location?

  • It’s best to look for a house that is close to basic services in the area—malls, dry cleaners, grocery stores—you want these things really close to your house so that it is an easy place to live.
  • Some people buy a home where there are no services and it can be really unpleasant to have to drive a distance just to go grocery shopping.
    Buying a house in a location that is near services also helps with resale, because people buying your house will want to be close to services as well.

Should I buy in an emerging neighborhood?

  • In this market it’s really not necessary to buy in an emerging neighborhood. There are some great houses in very good neighborhoods for sale right now.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

About Smart Windows!

Glazing that allows you to switch between transparency and translucence at the push of a button is prohibitively costly right now, but chromogenics research and competition may soon allow home owners to enjoy the energy-saving benefits of "smart windows."

"Switchable glass," also known as "smart windows" lets you control the level of transparency and a U.S. Department of Energy initiative is taking a close look at the technology's energy-saving qualities.

The special class of glass is scientifically known as chromogenics, glazing materials that selectively control the spectral aspect of radiation.

Electrochromics, which appears to be the most suitable chromogenic technology for energy control, is the subject of the most intensive research. Electrochromics employ materials that react to electric voltage.

When voltage is applied to liquid crystals, quartz and other materials sandwiched between sheets of glazing, the materials react by losing their visible qualities and become transparent.
Flip the switch off and the materials return to their original state, creating a tint, frost, or shade that reduces the passage of light.

Available in brand names Thermosee, SageGlass, Polyvision, ChromaFusion and others, the glazing systems can create open, inviting, transparent glass-walled spaces you can instantly transform into private areas.

Because the glazing offers darkening qualities, they also have a potential for energy-saving applications that could help offset the special glazing's high costs.
"Switchable glass can costs hundreds of dollars per square foot," said Lisa Gonzalez, president and CEO of Design Alternatives in Santa Clara.

Related technologies include:
  • Thermochromic materials changes optical properties in response to temperature changes. It mainly consists of liquids or gels sandwiched between layers of glazing. Thermochromic windows are designed to block solar gain. A drawback is that they reduce visible light transmission.
  • Photochromic materials change their properties in response to light. Photo gray sunglasses are the best known example. When photochromic materials change their transmittance, the absorptivity is increased, thus causing the glass to absorb more heat. On sunny cold days, they absorb solar heat and room source heat and then radiate some heat back to the surroundings. On sunny hot days, they do not reject as much solar heat as reflective windows.


"Picture a window as an appliance, one that makes you dramatically more comfortable, saves you energy and always allows you to enjoy the view," said Jay Schrankler, vice president of Honeywell Home Comfort Systems. The company recently teamed with SAGE Electronics to develop and introduce user-controlled window glass.


"This alliance uniquely combines the technical breakthroughs of SAGE's electronic window glass with Honeywell's recognized leadership in building control technologies. This combination of capabilities and shared vision has the potential to revolutionize the window industry," said SAGE founder and president John Van Dine.

Look for companies to test market "smart" windows this year.

By Broderick Perkins: Reprinted with permission from REALTOR.com

Monday, August 25, 2008

How To Prepare Your Home For Sale

You’ll get a lot more money for your home if you know what will impress a buyer. These simple steps can get you 10-20% more for your home.
  • Think about the first impression your house makes from the street. Look at your house with a critical eye.
  • Don't draw attention to any negative attributes.
  • Pay attention to details. Update or fix even small things that are broken.
  • Remove any dead plants.
  • Weed out any extra furnishings, clutter and personal belongings. Help the buyer feel like his/her belongings could have a place there.
  • Trim any bushes that block light; light sells homes.
  • Don’t make major improvements to a kitchen; you won’t make your money back. Instead, put on a fresh coat of paint and clear your countertops.
  • Don’t totally remodel your bathrooms; fresh caulk may be all you need.
  • Keep all rooms clean, even if you have to pay your teenagers to clean their rooms!
  • Clean and organize your closets; buyers will think that if you don’t keep your closets neat, perhaps critical structural details of your house (plumbing, wiring, etc.) aren’t being kept up either.

From Barbara Corcoran, Real Estate Contributor, The Today Show

Thursday, August 21, 2008

CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes Spotlight - Sally Adams

For over a decade, Sally Adams has been a cornerstone of the CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes management team. Joining the firm during its start-up phase, Sally was integral in the development and growth of the company's many divisions which now serve the communities of the San Gabriel Valley.

Sally is an astute and enthusiastic Real Estate professional. Her extensive lending and escrow background gives her great insight into the importance of detailed contract instructions, the need for informed customers, and the ability to see the 'big picture.' This philosophy continues to pay off as CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes consistantly receives high marks and awards for customer satisfaction and sales production.

Well known for her dynamic and positive attitude, Sally is typically at the center of CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes' many community service projects. From Monrovia Make A Difference day to the City of Hope's - Walk 4 Hope race, Sally Adams is a proud cheerleader for her company's team. Her energy is endless and is fueled by the need to do right by her community.

Sally is also a champion for continuing education. She believes that REALTORS must continue to evolve in both practice and technology in order to stay in step with today's savvy Real Estate consumer. Therefore, year after year Mrs. Adams invests hours in the education of both her Real Estate team and herself.

Sally Adams is a pro-active and involved owner at CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes. Leading by example, she continues to develop benchmarks for her growing team. She is a caring and energetic professional who meets challenges, develops solutions and takes pride when her team achieves.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to choose a real estate agent.

I’m Robyn Moreno for howdini.com. If you’re in the housing market as either a buyer or a seller, you may be looking for a good real estate agent. But how can you tell if a person is honest? Here to help us tell the honest brokers from the potentially shady ones, is Gerri Willis. She is CNN’s personal Finance Editor and author of Home Rich: Increasing the Value of the Biggest Investment of Your Life. Welcome Gerri, how are you?

Hi Robyn.

Why is it important to one, interview these real estate agents and two, what questions should I be asking?

You’ve absolutely got to interview these agents. Because you don’t know who’s going to work with you unless you really sit down face-to-face. Look: get some suggestions from friends and relatives, people in the area who can tell you who’s really good, who’s in touch with the market. And then sit down and grill them. You have to ask them questions to find out, are they active in the market you’re interested in, the neighborhood you’re interested in, and then do they sell the kinds of houses you’re interested in? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been lined up with an agent who is actually selling gabillion dollar houses when I’m not buying a gabillion dollar house. You really need to find a match in terms of price tag. Now a great way to go after this is to think about is the agent active in the neighborhood I’m interested in. If I’m selling my home, are they active in my neighborhood? Look: if you find a really good agent who lives three blocks from you, if you’re trying to sell this house, they can be over to your house pronto to help you sell. They can show your house any hour, they’re available all the time. They know all the ins and outs of the neighborhood. It’s a real help if you’re looking to sell.

What are the responsibilities of an agent?

Well, they’re supposed to give you all the information you can. Look, if you’re a seller, they’re supposed to tell you every offer that comes in on your house, if people are qualified. You know, sometimes I think people worry, am I getting all the information I should from your agent. They’re not supposed to let anything hang back. These folks are going to help you do everything, soup to nuts. They’re going to help you stage your home. You know, they’re used to the entire process, you know, they’re not just there for the close or just there to land the contract. They have to help you get the house ready for sale as well.

Are there really some signs of a good agent, some things I should be looking for?


Well your agent should be web-savvy; you’re probably going to have to put your house on the web to sell it. They’ve got to know the technical aspects of their job, as well as having great personal communication skills. You know, you’re looking for somebody who can really do it all, and you’ll only really know that if you sit down with them and talk to them one-on-one.
What about some flags of one that’s really bad, or maybe just unscrupulous?

Well, I think you really want to think about, is this person doing it full-time. There are lots of newbie’s in the industry; they came in during the boom, who really don’t have a lot of experience. I think right now you should be looking for somebody who’s been in the marketplace for at least eight years. That means they’ve had experience in a down market, so they know what to expect right now. What is the role of a home inspector, and why do you say that one should not be so closely aligned with your agent?

Hey, look. The home inspector is probably the person who is most important to the process of buying for the buyer, and the person who gets the least investigation by the buyer. Typically, people simply just take the recommendation of their real estate agent. Well I have to tell you, a lot of these inspectors are really close to the real estate industry, they know what inspectors do their inspections really quickly, and those are the people they’re going to recommend. You want somebody who’s going to have your interests at heart, who’s going to spend a long two hours looking at absolutely everything having to do with the house, the roof, the, the basement, the foundation, the plumbing, the electricity, and make sure everything works properly. This person has to work for you, not the real estate agent.

Gerri Willis, thank you so much. Great information on how to find the best real estate agent for you.

My pleasure.

I’m Robyn Moreno for http://www.howdini.com/.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

REALTOR Spotlight - SGV Commercial

Commercial REALTORS Linda Vidov and Craig McKenzie came together as a team in early 2007 and have quickly become one of the San Gabriel Valley's most dynamic commercial teams.

Their shared years of experience, technical know-how and marketing strategies led Linda and Craig to honors as a top team in 2007.Together Linda and Craig have the resources and expertise to provide clients with each aspect of any transaction from financing, pro-forma market analysis, title and escrow, 1031 & 1033 exchanges, development and property management.

Craig McKenzie specializes in industrial development, sales and leasing throughout the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire. Craig's six years of commercial brokerage experience included the development and marketing of a 250,000 square foot industrial complex in Rancho Cucamonga. Craig has over 25 years of management experience with international log home manufacturer and exporter, National Log Homes as well as nationally with such companies as Thorn International, and Wells Fargo and Company. Craig's years in banking have uniquely positioned him with a complete and well rounded working knowledge of the concerns and financing alternatives of small business owners and investors. Craig has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Finance.
Linda Vidov specializes in Office and Industrial sales and leasing throughout the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire. Linda previously worked in the finance area of Real Estate with Wells Fargo specializing in mortgages, refinances, home equity loans & lines of credit as well as other consumer and business products. She also has over 6 years of Project Management experience with companies such as US Concepts and Diageo as well as 4 years with Kaiser Permanente. Linda has a Bachelor's degree in StrategicManagement and Marketing from CSU, Sacramento.
To learn more about Linda Vidov and Craig McKenzie, you can visit them on-line at http://www.sgvcommercial.com/ or contact them direct at 626.358.1858

Thursday, August 7, 2008

REALTOR Spotlight: Joe Garcia


Joe Garcia is a well-known and highly distinguished citizen of Monrovia, CA who has amassed a reputation for being a proactive and diligent advocate of Historic housing in the San Gabriel Valley.

A resident of Monrovia since 1987, Joe began his civic career when he became involved in the Historic Preservation Ordinance Committee which he chaired. Since then, he has lead and taken part in a myriad of organizations that seek to maintain the décor, architecture and beauty of the homes that lined the foothills in the early 1900s. His efforts and successes brought Joe to the Monrovia City Council in the late 90s and in 2007 he celebrated his first decade as a councilman. A proud historian, he also serves as an Executive Board Member of the Monrovia Historical Society and the Monrovia Historical Museum.

Joe is also a visionary and has the foresight to take-on projects and ideas that modernize and beautify Monrovia. As a past-Chairman of the city's planning commission, he has had direct influence in the countless projects that have made our neighborhoodsso attractive to visitors. He introduced Monrovia's 'Art in Public Places Program' and 'Percent for Public Art Ordinance' that seek to merge artistry with the innate beauty of our foothills and streets.

Now he brings his energy, dedication and professionalism to the craft of Real Estate in Monrovia. Joe's affiliation with CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes is a testament to his gift of creating relationships that bring together the resources and people that can accomplish great and wonderful things.

His intimate knowledge of Historic properties in the San Gabriel Valley gives his clients the advantage of working with a Real Estate professional who understands the uniqueness and value that every address possesses. Joe Garcia's civic involvement has broadened the scope of his knowledge and this grants his clients a proven practitioner that can maneuver and coordinate through a transaction efficiently.
To learn more about Joe, contact CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes at 626.358.1858 or on-line at http://www.c21ab.net/ or http://www.homesbyjoegarcia.com/

2002 Bellavista, Arcadia now Available for Sale by Joe Garcia. For more information call 626.358.1858

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Green Remodeling Tips

Going green has become more than just a trend, especially when it comes to home remodeling or improvements. Buyers are looking for homes with energy efficient and cost saving features now more than ever!

Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Demand for green housing has been growing—46% of buyers would like a green home, according to an August 2007 report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) onhome buyers’ preference.
  2. Before purchasing any of these items for your home, check with your local gas and electric company for possible tax credits and rebates. Also check with federal, state, and local government agencies.
  3. Estimate your potential savings by using one of the many online free energy audit calculators.
  4. If you need to buy appliances consider ENERGY STAR® rated appliances. You can get moredetailed information about the ENERGY STAR® program on their website as well as a list of products that qualify for rebates.
  5. Contact your local CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes Real Estate Professional. Their experience and local knowledge can help you decide which home improvements will be best for you.

For more information on going green:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mid-Year Sales Volume in 08 Earns CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes the PaceSetter Gold Award for Production

Monrovia, CA, July 2008, - CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes announced today that CENTURY 21 Real Estate LLC recently recognized the office with the PACESETTER GOLD Award for production through the first six months of 2008. The recognition is presented to CENTURY 21 System offices whose sales production is tracking at impressive levels for that given year.

The company's Monrovia office is to present the award certificate at an upcoming Friday Sales and Marketing Meeting.

"The individual efforts and dedication displayed by each member of CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes in achieving this significant accomplishment are to be commended," said Thomas R. Kunz, President and CEO of CENTURY 21 Real Estate LLC. "Through the PACESETTER award, the CENTURY 21 System is able to recognize outstanding achievement of its franchisees.

The Monrovia office's sales have tracked well despite the recent downturn in the housing market. Focusing its efforts, its sales and marketing staff to hone in on specific market areas, the company has been able to assist buyers and sellers successfully. The office has participated in CENTURY 21's Open House Month drive, broken into the burgeoning REO and shortsale markets, averaged over 10 open houses per weekend and increased its Internet presence through REALTOR.com, CENTURY21.com and the newly re-imagined company site at www.c21ab.net

CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes is a full-service brokerage located at 433 West Foothill Boulevard and specializing in Residential, Commercial, Property Management, Mortgage and Escrow services.

To learn more about CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes visit us on-line on the world wide web at www.c21ab.net or call us at 626.358.1858 / Monrovia or 626.963.7621 / Glendora

President Signs Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 Into Law

LOS ANGELES (July 30) – The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) applauds President Bush’s decision to sign H.R. 3221 into law. For the past several years, C.A.R. and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® have aggressively lobbied for Congress to pass numerous provisions found in this historic bill.

The legislation, called the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, will assist an estimated 400,000 homeowners facing foreclosure, many of whom reside in California, by allowing them to refinance their current mortgages with a Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed loan. The bill also will permanently increase FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loan limits in high-cost areas.

“This federal housing bill is a significant move in the right direction for California homeowners,” said C.A.R. President William E. Brown. “It will aid in stabilizing our economy and help stem foreclosures, while also providing support to first-time homeowners.”The bill permanently increases the conforming loan limit to $625,500. C.A.R. has long advocated for higher conforming loan limits. In February, the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 was signed, temporarily raising the conforming loan limit in high-cost areas to $729,750 from $417,000 until December 31, 2008.

“Although we would have liked Congress to make permanent the current $729,750 loan limit, C.A.R. is pleased with the new permanent loan limit of $625,500. It will allow California homeowners to refinance their loans into safe affordable loan products and allow first-time home buyers to enter the market,” said Brown.

The new loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the greater of either $417,000 or 115 percent of an area’s median home price, up to $625,500. The new FHA loan limit will be the greater of $271,050 or 115 percent of an area’s median home price, up to $625,500. Both new loan limits will be effective at the expiration of the economic stimulus limits on December 31, 2008.

C.A.R. also supports the following bill provisions:

  • A temporary increase in mortgage revenue bonds to refinance subprime mortgages.
  • New regulator for Government Sponsored Enterprises to restore investor confidence in GSE loans and help the market and economy stabilize.
  • First-time home buyer tax credit, which allows first-time home buyers to receive a tax refund worth up to 10 percent of a home’s purchase price, up to a maximum of $7,500. The refund serves as an interest-free loan and the homeowner is required to repay it in equal installments over 15 years.
  • Temporary raise in the loan limit for the Veterans Affairs home loan guarantee program to the same level as the economic stimulus limits until the end of 2008.
  • Adjustment to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA), allowing sellers to provide the non-foreign affidavit to a qualified closing entity and not just the buyer.
  • The setting of minimum requirements for mortgage originators, which mandates fingerprinting of loan originators and establishes a nationwide loan originator licensing and registration system. The requirements do not apply to those only performing real estate brokerage activities unless they are compensated by a lender, mortgage broker, or other loan originator. States will have the ability to implement more stringent laws.
  • The creation of a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help cover the cost of the FHA rescue plan for the first five years and develop affordable housing in subsequent years.

Other provisions in the legislation include:

  • The Treasury Department’s proposal to create a federal backstop program to ensure the financial well-being of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • The FHA’s inability to insure loans that utilize a seller-funded down-payment assistance program. Down-payment assistance from family, employers and other nonprofits is still allowed.
  • The Community Development Block Grant Programs’ $4 billion allotment for communities to purchase and refurbish foreclosed homes.

Leading the way...® in California real estate for more than 100 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States, with nearly 175,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes Sales Associates are members of the National Association of REALTORS, the California Association of REALTORS and the Arcadia Association of REALTORS. To speak to a CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes sale professional, contact us today at 626.358.1858 / Monrovia or 626.963.7621 / Glendora or visit us on-line at http://www.c21ab.net/

Monday, July 28, 2008

REALTOR Spotlight - Karen Taylor-Straley

With over 18 years experience in real estate sales in the foothill cities of the San Gabriel Valley, as well as intimate local area knowledge, Karen Taylor-Straley works diligently to help buyers and sellers meet their real estate goals.

As a listing agent, her extensive marketing plan gives a homeowner the opportunity to achieve the maximum value for their property.
For buyers, Karen searches and re-searches until the the perfect property becomes available and then she helps negotiate the best possible terms.

Believing that civic affairs are an important part of our community, Karen has served as the President of the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce and Past-President of Monrovia's Kiwanis Club.

Therefore, if you are looking to buy or sell a home or would just like some more information about the local real estate market, feel free to call Karen Taylor-Straley at 626.358.1858.


Karen's latest listing at 329 West Highland Highland Avenue in Sierra Madre, CA. For more info call 626.358.1858.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

REALTOR Spotlight - Cecilia Farnum

Few REALTORS have amassed a more colorful and well-rounded Real Estate career than Cecilia Farnum. Born into the industry, Cecilia's family helped shape the neighborhoods of the San Gabriel Valley. She has lived in Monrovia since 1986 where she has been an active resident through the city's re-invention period.

Her Real Estate career, which is now 25 years strong, has given Cecilia a soothing coolness to her approach. She guides customers and clients with sensible advice that consistently lead to overwhelmingly positive results.

As one of CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes' most experienced agents, Farnum is a sought after guide. Her knowledge of the local market is inspiring and she's developed it during her daily 'power-walks' in the neighborhoods she services.

Her consistency has made Cecilia one of the most decorated REALTORS at CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes. Acknowledged for her production and customer service at the national and local level, she is accustumed to being in the 'winners-circle'.

Her true passion though, rests with her clientele who never hesitate to point out her thoughtfulness and collected wisdom during the sale or purchase of their home.
To learn more about Cecilia Farnum contact CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes at 626.358.1858 or visit us on-line at C21AB.com

Monday, July 21, 2008

REALTOR Spotlight - Jacen Crehan

Today, most Real Estate experts are not as approachable as Jacen Crehan. Basing his practice on building trust and personal accountability, he has built life-long relationships with his clients who seek him out for advice and guidance.

Jacen has three major passions in business life: real estate, client care and marketing.

A born entrepreneur, Jacen has succeeded in several business ventures. His experience has lead him to market and sell product to mass retailers, lead and MC corporate functions, and create programs that grew a very small venture into a healthy and thriving business. With a background in Marketing and Brand management, Jacen brings a unique palette of experience to the Real Estate industry. He thrives on taking marketing properties to the next level and it shows through websites such as AskJacen.com

In fact according to Jacen, 'It is essential to recognize and adapt to the nuances of today's marketing strategies, especially when you are selling or buying your home. I am equipped with a robust set of tools that marry older techniques with the most modern technologies. I am ready to overcome the challenges and help my clients achieve their goals.'

Sellers and buyers have many options available, but when it comes to Real Estate in Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte and the rest of the San Gabriel Valley, Jacen is the obvious choice for representation.

Today, Jacen brings passion, energy and dedication to the Real Estate industry. To learn more about him, contact our office at 626.358.1858.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

REALTOR Spotlight - Micah Adams

When your family surname has become synonymous with community involvement and unparalleled Real Estate services, making a mark of your own is a peculiar challenge. For those who embrace their legacy, blazing new paths to success is the ultimate distinction and for Micah Adams the journey began many years ago.

His first steps were taken as CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes opened its doors in Monrovia and the company began its ascension as an area leader. A first hand witness to the obstacles of growing a business, Micah was privy to strategy and planning talks that moved the company forward. Bright and curious, he took to the impromptu training and at an early age was charged with the company's developing Property Management division.

Shortly, those early lessons began to shape his skills as a REALTOR and Property Manager.
First, his focused business approach has allowed him to gauge worthwhile opportunities for his clientele. This has led to rental units that are meticulously maintained ensuring consistent profits.

Second, a healthy respect of experienced mentors gives Micah a vast professional resource pool from which to draw wisdom from when a customer requires it.

Finally as an Adams, a genuine concern for others and commitment to service is innate and thus Micah always measures how business decision affect those he works for.
With a fixed business and ethics compass, Micah Adams has seen CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes' Property Management Division grow by leaps and bounds to become one of the company's most successful divisions. His accomplishments have led him to become more involved in local voice and in 2007 he joined Rotary International where he has made a name for himself as an energetic member and ambassador of good-will.

Currently, Micah's journey continues as he continues to sharpen his skills as REALTOR and business person. Already a respected member of the Real Estate and business community he sits as a committee member at Focus One Community Credit Union and has helped spearhead the Arcadia Associations of REALTORS, Young Professionals Network committee. In addition, Micah is a rising star at Monrovia's historic Rotary Club and is an active blood and platelet donor at City of Hope in Duarte, CA.

Micah is accomplishing the task of making a mark of his own while proudly representing the family name that means so many good things to the communities of the San Gabriel Valley.
To learn more about Micah Adams and CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes, C21ab.com or call 626.358.1858

Monday, July 14, 2008

MOVING ON: POWERFUL TIPS FOR SELLING YOUR HOME

Maybe you're moving to a larger home to accommodate a growing family, relocating for a new career opportunity, or purchasing a townhouse for retirement. Whatever the reason for the move, you'll need to take the necessary steps to sell your home for the best possible price, within a reasonable amount of time. Where do you begin?

If you're like most people, you'll start by seeking assistance from a professional. A local REALTOR, who knows your neighborhood, can help you determine a fair market price. The sales associate should also recommend the extent to which you should make repairs or improvements to your house.

In order to select a real estate professional who's right for you, ask family, friends and neighbors for referrals. Attend open houses and interview several sales associates to find out how professional or experienced they may be. Get a written outline of how they plan to market your property and the services they will offer you.

Once you've identified a qualified REALTOR, the rest is chemistry. Is the sales associate someone with whom you would like to work closely? Do you feel comfortable with the sales associate as your partner, working with you to give you advice and acting as your representative? Does he or she practice a consultative selling approach, focusing on the long-term client relationship and on the importance of exceeding client needs and expectations or is he or she caught up in the proverbial 'hard sell?'

The brokerage firm that your agent is associated with is also important. Research the firm's success rate and commitment to quality service. Does it survey existing clients in order to ensure customer satisfaction? What are the results of those surveys? How in tune are they with consumer needs? Do they offer guidance with mortgages or any discounts for other home related or moving services?

Determining your home's fair market value is one of the most important decisions you'll make during the home-selling/buying process. Your REALTOR can help you set a fair price based on local market conditions. For instance, she or he will provide sale prices and other statistics of homes similar to yours that have recently been sold. Prospective buyers will be comparing your home to others on the market. Therefore, setting a comprehensive price can determine if your property will or will not sell.

For the first offer made, it's rare that the prospective buyer matches the asking price. If the offer is reasonably close to the asking price, carefully consider the offer before you consider turning it down. Curiously, it's the first offer that can often be the best offer. If the first offer is unacceptable to you, it may in your best interest to have your sales associate respond with a counter offer. Whenever considering an offer, ask yourself if you would purchase the property for the amount being offered. Always be willing to negotiate, especially if the prospective buyer is pre-qualified for a mortgage.

Once you decide what terms are acceptable, let your sales associate negotiate with the prospective buyer to work out the best agreement for you. You'll need to be patient while the buyer arranges financing and as the real estate company compiles and prepares pertinent data.
Careful planning and sound advice from a real estate professional can make selling your home a very satisfying experience. For further information, please contact, the sales team at CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes at 626.358.1858 - Monrovia or 626.963.7621 - Glendora. Or visit them on-line at C21AB.net

Monday, July 7, 2008

ACCORDING TO SELLERS, SILENCE ISN'T ALWAYS 'GOLDEN'

When trying to sell a home, silence isn't always golden especially when you're expecting your real estate agent to call. In fact, it's one of the leading complaints among sellers in the real estate market. Often times you find an agent who is more than willing to take on your listing, but once the relationship is made, the seller enjoys getting a call at least once a week.

"A seller should establish with the agent up front the expectation that regular communication will occur. Even if it's just to check-in, the seller will be more satisfied being kept 'in the loop'," says Monrovia REALTOR Nicole Kinder at CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes.

Keeping the communication lines open between the two parties assures the seller that the agent is keeping them apprised of any and all offers. In addition, agents often provide valuable tips on why prospective buyers weren't interested. Often times, an agent is privy to the buyer's dislikes of the property. For instance 'this room's too dark' or 'the kitchen has a funny smell.' This allows the agent to give the seller constructive feedback and offer important tips on how to make the home more attractive to future buyers.

If you're a seller and are not hearing from your agent, be sure to keep calling them until they get the message that you expect a regular update. If the agent doesn't return your calls, leave a message for your broker's office manager. The manager will see to it that your broker becomes more attentive to your listing.

"At CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes" Nicole continues "we're expected to have open lines of communication with our clients. Whether its phone calls, text messaging, instant messenger, e-mail, faxing or occasional visit, there is always a way for us to reach out to our clientele."

Selling a home can be a lot of work and sometimes quite stressful. It is incumbent upon an agent to satisfy the seller's expectations of routine updates, this will ensure the possibility of future business not to mention a successful sale. Furthermore, as a seller you must demand the communication exchange between you and your agent. If both parties work in a cooperative effort, the selling experience will be more successful and enjoyable for both the agent and the seller involved.

To learn more about client communication, visit CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes at C21AB.net or call 626.358.1858.

Nicole Kinder is part of Your Monrovia Team (YMT), a Division of CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes. To learn more about Nicole visit YourMonroviaTeam.com or call at 626.675.1614

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

20 Small House Dos & Dont's

Short on square footage? Don't despair. Follow this advice for maximizing a minimal space.

Recently, some of our clients have inquired about techniques to maximize their home space. Our team researched and found some answers at Better Homes & Gardens. Here are some good ideas that may help make your humble abode, into a design masterpiece.

Small Space Dos

1) Homeowner Sheila York knows you don't have to live in a palace-size place to reap the benefits of good design. In fact, smart space-stretching ideas abound in her 1,200-square-foot Michigan home, from room-expanding paint treatments to efficient ways for displaying treasures. Here, she shares her design dos and don'ts for other homeowners who have more style than space.

2) DO Start at the ceiling. Sheila hung the window treatments in the dining room from the highest possible point on the wall (just under the crown molding). Hanging the curtains high lets the fabric flow freely and tugs the eye upward.

3) DO Include built-ins. They take up almost no floor space but yield plenty of much-needed storage -- both perfect characteristics for a small house. Sheila assigned double duties to a built-in bookcase in the living room: It not only holds books and display items but also serves as a mini-bar.

4) DO Reflect on the situation. Mirrors and panes of glass act as room expanders when strategically placed to reflect something pretty. The small mirror next to the built-in bookcase in Sheila's living room doubles the number of pretty glasses in view. And she made the dining room lustrous by adding glaze to yellow paint so the walls reflect the limited light.

5) DO Open rooms to each other. Though it's important to clearly define separate spaces, some openness between adjoining rooms makes all of them feel bigger. Sheila's cramped kitchen used to be cut off completely from the dining room, but now a large pass-through connects the two spaces. In a similar way, her office joins the living room through a French door, which allows the two rooms to share the same light and views.

6) DO Define different spaces subtly. Separate one room from another without choosing completely different wall colors or flooring. A checkerboard pattern in slate blue on the floor of the dining room looks like an area rug without being bulky.

7) DO Give each room its own treatment. To differentiate it from the living room, Sheila rag-rolled the walls of the dining room; the living room walls are covered in yellow striated wallpaper. Although the tones are similar (and therefore unifying), the texture in each space is unique.
8) DO Opt for light colors. One law of color is that pale tones advance, thus expanding a room, while dark colors recede and shrink a space. Sheila's kitchen gets a lift from airy white cabinets; her bedroom glows with walls covered in white linen.

9) DO Draw the eye upward. This creates the illusion of more volume, which makes up for a lack of square footage. Crown molding, painted crisp white, defines the ceiling in Sheila's living room; striped wallpaper also stretches the height of the walls in the kitchen. The dining room walls boast a special treatment: A chair rail, set about two-thirds of the way up the wall, caps pieces of trim that run vertically to the floor.

10) DO Keep flooring continuous. Maintaining the same flooring material throughout the house imparts a sense of continuity; the eye does not jump from one room to the next but rather wanders easily between the spaces. Sheila's hardwood floors are light-stained to look even more expansive.

To learn more about additional design ideas or to receive a complimentary copy of this entire article, contact your CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes REALTOR® at 626.358.1858 today.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright National Association of REALTORS®, Reprinted from REALTOR.org with permission

Thursday, June 26, 2008

FINDING A CAPABLE AGENT TO MEET YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, selling your current home or relocating to a different part of the country, the support of a qualified, knowledgeable REALTOR can alleviate many of your concerns and ensure a smooth transaction. A professional agent can market your present residence, help you locate the home of your dreams and assist in making your transfer to an unfamiliar area easier.

To find a trained REALTOR or broker, you may need to look no further than your own neighborhood or home town or this site. If a well-established brokerage is involved in many listings and sale, this is a god sign. Speak with some of the agent’s past customers about the quality and integrity of service and performance. Successful real estate agents rely heavily on customer referrals and will therefore strive to provide the very best in customer service and satisfaction.

Set up appointments to “interview” agents and brokers much like an employer world interview a prospective employee. Inquire about their training, marketing programs and specific service policies. Also determine how many years of experience they have, the number of listings they have had, and the number of homes they have sold within the past few years. More importantly, find out how well they know the area. Ask for references, and check them out.

Your goal is to determine just how knowledgeable the agents are. Question them on financing, closing costs and/or local market conditions, depending on whether you’re a prospective home buyer or seller, to determine their expertise. If they know their stuff, they should be able to answer your questions effortlessly.

If you’re selling your home, learn what they will do if you decide to list with them. How do they plan to market your home? Will they provide you with a market analysis to help you determine the most effective listing price for your property? Will they supply regular progress reports and assist with negotiations once you’ve received offers?

If you are relocating to a different part of the country, is your agent connected with a national relocation service that will not only expose your present property to incoming transferees, but assist with your search for a new house?

Ask for a written guarantee that everything promised will be delivered. The CENTURY 21® organization, for example, backs its listings with the CENTURY 21 Seller Service Pledge. This 11-point written commitment covers everything from furnishing the seller with a marketing plan to monitoring pre-settlement activities throughout the closing process. It also gives the seller the right to terminate the listing if the pledge is not fulfilled.

A qualified real estate agent should be able to answer all your questions and provide you with qualify service that is courteous and responsible. Finding the right person may take time and patience, buy when purchasing or selling a home, the selection of a dependable agent should be tops on your list.

To speak with a CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes REALTOR today, contact our offices at 626.358.1858 / Monrovia or 626.963.7621 / Glendora

By Hugo Torres
GM/E-Pro/REALTOR
CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes

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Monrovia, California, United States