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United E-fares

I recently returned from a trip to Denver to see my college roommate. I used United e-fares and cost me $80 each way from Santa Maria (SLO was $95 plus parking).

The United efares are for travel on Saturday and returning Monday or Tuesday. The specials change every week so and you can only purchase tickets 2 weekends in advance but they are a good deal.

http://travel.united.com/ube/efares/us/eFares.do

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile

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NARs Commercial Real Estate Prediction

The National Association of Realtors forecasts that the commercial real estate market will not recover until 2011. Here are specific forecasts:

Multifamily Market

The apartment rental market – multifamily housing – is poised to gain from a rise in household formation. Multifamily vacancy rates are likely to decline from 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year to 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, and possibly edge down to 6.1 percent next year.

Office Market

With a lot of sublease space currently on the market, vacancy rates in the office sector are forecast to rise from 16.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 17.6 percent in the fourth quarter of this year; the longer term outlook is for vacancies to average 17.4 percent in 2011.

Retail Market

Retail vacancy rates are expected to edge up from 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 12.7 percent in the same period of this year, and may hold at that level in 2011.

Read the entire article here

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile

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Is it Time to Stop Open Houses?

I was reading a message thread on a Realtor message board about Open Houses. The question raised is if it’s time to stop doing Open Houses. Here are the reasons why it may be time:

1) In the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, Open Houses were a way Buyers went looking for houses. Today, around 1% of Buyers find their homes through an Open House.

2) Open Houses are a risk for homeowners that someone is going to steal items from the home. If you go to an Open House, the Realtor usually says to the visitors “feel free to look around” and sits on the couch. Even if the Realtor follows people around, people intending to steal work in groups and don’t stay together in a Open House.

3) Open Houses are a security risk for the Realtor sitting at the Open House. Some agents will not do Open Houses alone anymore.

Most everyone agrees that Open Houses are done to show the Seller that the agent is “doing something” to try to sell their home. Since most Realtors don’t have a strong marketing service, they need something to try to justify their commission.

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile

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Rate Update and Cash-In Refis

In a relatively light week for data, the Fed’s unexpected moves pushed interest rates higher. On Wednesday, the Fed released the detailed minutes from the January 27th meeting which revealed that several Fed officials favored starting the sale of the Fed’s mortgage-backed securities portfolio “in the near future.” On Thursday, the Fed announced an increase in the discount rate, the emergency rate at which banks borrow money from the Fed. The Fed made clear that this in no way reflected a change in broader monetary policy or its economic outlook. Another blow to the mortgage market occurred when we learned that China fell behind Japan to become the second-biggest holder of US Treasuries. China was a net seller of Treasuries by $34 billion bringing its total holdings down to $755 billion from $790 billion in November. While these unanticipated events applied upward pressure on mortgage rates, the scheduled inflation data bucked the week’s trend with low levels of current inflation, putting no immediate pressure on the Fed to take action. Currently, the 30-Year Fixed sits at 4.750% (4.929% APR) and the 15-Year Fixed is at 4.125% (4.432% APR). This week we will see New and Existing Home Sales figures, Gross Domestic Product, Consumer Confidence and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak on Wednesday.

According to Freddie Mac, cash-out transactions comprised 88% of the total refinance loans originated in 2005. This statistic means that nine out of ten refinance borrowers were increasing their loan balances! The purposes for cash-out refinances included home improvement, transfer-of-equity to acquire more real estate, debt consolidation, and one can’t forget about frivolous purchases. Thankfully, that trend of cashing-out home equity has moved in the opposite direction. The report points out that cash-out refinances have retreated to a mere 27% of all refinance activity. In fact, a review of Freddie Mac’s most recent survey will show that one third of home owners put cash into their refinance in 2009, the highest percentage on record. Many home owners are choosing to pay down loan balances in order to qualify under more stringent lending standards, or simply due to a lack of other attractive alternatives. They might also be thinking of the future value of a sub-5 percent mortgage rate for the next 30 years. Regardless of your reasons, the cash-flow savings secured now will undoubtedly result in thousands of dollars of savings for years to come.

Central Coast Lending, Inc.
(805) 771-9870
info@centralcoastlending.com

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile

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Another CraigsList Rental Scam

A blog reader sent me a Craigslist ad for a 3 bedroom in SLO that is renting for $800. No contact info is on the ad other than the anonymous reply-to email address.

Be careful if you find something that sounds too good to be true like this rental. I don’t know if you respond to it what you’ll get back but it will probably be something that tries to get you to send a deposit to secure this rental.

BE CAREFUL OF CRAIGSLIST SCAMS!!

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile

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New Listing – 2 Homes By the Beach!

Just Listed Today!

This North Grover Beach property is special. 2 homes on a large corner lot just two blocks from the Monarch Grove and the Beach. The main home is 3 bedroom + office, 2.5 baths, 1860 sq ft. and 2 car garage. The second home is a single-level 2 bedroom, 1000 sq ft., also with a 2 car garage.

Never an REO or Short Sale, these homes show pride of ownership. The second home was built in 2005 and the main home in 2006 and have had one owner. Check out the property website for a link to a Bob Villa video that demonstrates the flooring that was installed in both the main and second homes. There are also other upgrades like heating under the tile in the Master Bath, skylights that can be opened, gas hookup outside for a barbeque, whole house fan, and more. The owners received a 2009 Grover Beach Beautification Award for their landscaping.

Do some homework and look up sold comparables on this one and you’ll see the value. The second home would probably sell for $375K-$400K just by itself. Add the 1860 sq foot home and you can get both for $729,000. The second home comes with furnishings so it’s ready to rent or occupy. Currently renting for $1800/mo. It would make a great in-law residence too as there is privacy between the homes.

See the property website for photos, details, and a map.

www.2HomesByTheBeach.com

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile

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Light, Bright and Airy Home Staging Tips

Staging tips for Tuesday!

  • Clean, clean, clean – I can’t say it enough! I had the pleasure of working an open house last week for a home that I had staged; Realtors and buyers alike, looked in every closet and cupboard! I was so thankful we had made sure it was all looking it’s best!
  • Give things purpose! If you have a room with no purpose, or a side yard, give them an identity, so buyers can see themselves enjoying the office, or exercise room, etc.
  • Eliminate red flags! Move-in ready means everything in this market, no one wants to buy a house for top dollar and then pay for repairs too!
  • Accentuate the strengths of your home! If you have a great view, make sure it is the focus! Your stuff should look great, but not so much so that it takes the focus off the house! The job of your stuff, while your home is on the market, is ONLY to showcase the house!

Good luck and happy home selling! – Shannon D’Acquisto

If you have more specific questions for me directly, please visit my website: http://www.lightbrightandairy.com/ or email me: shannon@LightBrightandAiry.com

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile

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Need an Oil Change?

KCOY TV has this site called Central Coast Deals – http://centralcoastdeals.com/ – that has half-off certificates you can buy for local businesses. I’ve purchased a few over the past year+ and most have been a good deal. They just got in about 100 certificates for Jiffy Lube. They are $40 certificates for $20 (plus $1 to ship). I’ve used these before at the local Jiffy Lube with no problems.

I’ve tried some restaurant coupons but ran into one that I had to return so now I’m not so eager to try these again. The one I returned wasn’t really a half-off coupon like they are advertised (like “get a $40 certificate for $20”). The one I got was more of a “buy this and get something free” which I can get for free in coupon mailers. Maybe that was an exception as I’ve purchased other restaurant certificates and they’ve been the $40 for $20 type but it just hasn’t wanted me to try again as I can’t tell from their descriptions.

But…I do know that the Jiffy Lube certificate work so if you’re in need of an oil change, it’s a good deal. Don’t delay though, they have a limited number of certificates and I just bought two!

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile