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My New Gadget – Logitech Revue (Google TV)

I picked up a Logitech Revue at Best Buy a few days ago. The Revue is a repackaged Google TV. When they first came on the market last year, they were $299.  They went down to $199 and at the beginning of this month, they reduced the price again to $99.

The Revue is a an Internet computer that uses your TV as the display.  The Logitech comes with a keyboard controller, complete with mouse pad, and it even can control the volume of my TV too.

The reason I got the Revue is because I wanted to see the last month of the baseball season. Being a Giants fan, the only time I get to see games on TV is when they play the Dodgers or when they are on a National game (like ESPN). I was looking at a Raku to stream MLB games to my TV but I’ve read it some forums that they their buffering isn’t the best. The Revue uses Google’s Chrome browser. It’s a full browser and supports flash too as I tested it on our real estate dashboards and they loaded and worked just fine.  Having the mouse pad makes it real easy to navigate and the keyboard allows you to type in the website addresses and whatever else you needed to input.  I also want to watch the Sharks on my TV when their season starts which the Revue will allow me to do.

It’s real easy to set the Revue up. They include a HDMI cable so you just hook it into your HD TV. It has both wireless ethernet and a wired ethernet port. I already had a hub sitting next to my TV that my Blu Ray is connected to,  so connecting another ethernet cable was a snap.

I have used my Blu Ray to access Netflix but the Revue’s included Netflix app is MUCH better and the keyboard controller makes it even easier.  Trying to type using a TV remote control one letter at a time is painfully slow.

Some day, Google is supposed to add an Android store so you can add apps to the Revue. The Revue can also switch between cable TV and Internet video or browser but you need to hook a cable box to it (via HDMI).  I’m just using basic cable in the room I have the Revue so I’m not using this feature.

If it wasn’t for my desire to watch live sports games on my TV, I’d still be watching Netflix through my Blu Ray.  But for $99, it’s doing what I want as I’m sitting here typing this while watching the Giants try to stop their losing streak (it’s 3-1 Cubs in the 6th).

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

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Rate Update and Market News

We start the week on an optimistic note after weeks of volatility, poor economic news, and hurricane Irene destruction.

Today, the Dow shot up 254.71 points to 11,539.25, and the S&P 500 finished at 1210.08 (up 2.83 percent). Consumer spending increased 0.8 percent in July from June, which is the largest jump in five months. Personal income increased 0.3 percent, which, contextualized by consumer spending, suggests people reached deeper into their pockets in July. Hurricane Irene caused less damage than expected. Kinetic Analysis Corporation expects the cost of damages to insurers will be $2.6 billion. Back when the storm was projected to hit NYC as a Category 2, analysts thought the damage could be up to $14 billion. The uninsured may have sustained damages up to $7 billion.  Of course, with 20 deaths, billions of dollars of damage, lost revenue opportunities, and the current danger of severe flooding, Hurricane Irene had tragic consequences and less damage is just a small reason for optimism.

On the negative side, real estate numbers continue to struggle, specifically in the purchase sector. July pending home sales fell 1.3 percent from June to July, according to the National Association of Realtors. Last week saw the lowest mortgage purchase application index number in 15 years.  Home prices continue to drop. Last week, the national average of fixed interest rates has the 30 year fixed (4.22 percent) and 15 year fixed (3.46 percent) slightly up from lows, but still a bargain. Central Coast Lending offers a 30 year rate at 3.875 percent (4.028 percent APR) and a 15 year rate at 3.250 percent (3.430 percent APR). Remember, all rates subject to change based on the market.

Back to the positives, the market has rallied on optimism of European economic news, as two banks merged to gain strength against the tide of the debt crisis.

As a result of the strong day on the market, US bond yields have been increasing as investors move away from the safe haven of bonds and back to stocks. As this happens, interest rates will start to increase again. Keep an eye out this week for the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for June, the consumer confidence index for August, and the Employment Report for August. These numbers will have some barring on how the market settles at the end of the week. For daily updates on the market, check Central Coast Lending’s Facebook. For longer posts about the economic issues of the day, check Central Coast Lending’s Blog.

Written by Central Coast Lending - Go to Central Coast Lending's Website/Profile
805.543.LOAN info@centralcoastlending.com
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Bye Bye Tribune Delivery

First I’ll say that I LOVE MY IPAD.  I’ve had both the original version and then got the IPAD2 and while it took me awhile to play with some of the apps, I’m now at a point where it is now doing multiple things for me in my day-to-day life.

My latest find is an app that the Tribune recently released.  The entire issue of each paper is available through this app. You can flip pages and zoom in/out on any part of the paper.  The best thing about it is that subscription to get every issue is only $1 a month.  Yep, that’s right… ONE DOLLAR a month.  I’m currently paying around $12/month (with tip) to have it thrown on the driveway.  When rainy season comes, I lose about a paper every 2 weeks to a badly wrapped paper.  Now, I ‘m saving about $11/month and never have to deal with a drenched paper again!

When I used to deliver the Oakland Tribune back in the old days (!), I used to porch every paper.  Didn’t throw it either, I placed it.  I guess those times are long gone. Now the paper will just appear on my IPAD every morning.

Like I said…I LOVE MY IPAD!

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

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Do You Qualify for a Short Sale on Your Home?

In the short sale process, you sell your home and settle your mortgage debt for less than the amount owed. You may be eligible to sell your home in a short sale under the U.S. Treasury’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (“HAFA”)  if:

  • You have a hardship, such as a job loss, divorce or medical emergency
  • You owe more on the mortgage thanyour house is worth
  • You’re unable to afford your current monthly mortgage payment
  • You’re unable to modify your current home loan

If you qualify and want to move forward with a short sale, you should consult an attorney or a professional real estate broker/agent who is experienced in short sale transactions. See the “Basic Steps for a Short Sale” for a general idea of the process…but keep in mind that the steps may vary depending on the lender requirements and/or the advice of the real estate professional who will guide you through the process.

Basic Steps for a Short Sale Transaction

A real estate professional who specializes in short sales and is well-qualified can help you with these steps:

  1. Completing a property valuation analysis – lenders will only approve a short sale if the borrower owes more than the property’s fair market value.
  2. Contacting the Lender for a short sale application.
  3. Collecting all of the financial data and other information required by the lender – including a fact-based letter detailing borrower’s hardship and current financial situation.
  4. Listing the property for sale.
  5. Receiving and ratifying a purchase contract from a qualified buyer.
  6. Sending the purchase contract to the lender, along with all of the lender-required documentation (requirements vary from lender to lender).
  7. Being persistent, but patient – ideally, it should take 30-45 days for a purchase contract to work its way through the lender’s system, but the process could take longer.

These steps will need to be done for each lender that is involved and every lender has their own process. Some lenders that are in second position (2nd trust/mortgage) will only start processing their short sale after they’ve received written short sale approval from the first trust. This means that the overall short-sale approval process may take twice as long if there are two trusts/mortgages secured by the property.

Consult an attorney and/or a licensed tax professional to understand all your obligations relating to a short sale.

Resources:

Home Warranty Protection

This article provided courtesy of Old Republic Home Protection, a leader in the home warranty industry, providing superior service, comprehensive coverage and competitive pricing.

Source: http://shortsalehomewarranty.com/sellers/ retrieved on August 24, 2011

For more information on the value and benefits of home warranty coverage or to order a home warranty (also available for investment/rental properties and homes not going through a resale transaction), please contact local area representative Amanda Wood, serving Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Kern Counties:

Amanda Wood
Account Executive
Old Republic Home Protection
(800) 282-7131 ext. 1210
amandaw@orhp.com
www.myorhp.com/amandawood

 

 

Written by Amanda Wood - Go to Amanda's Website/Profile

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Rate Update

We have seen a few notable housing related numbers in the past week with important implications for home prices and mortgage related activity. Interest rates continue to drop, and national existing homes sales continue to decline, even while local existing home sales have increased. Our recent strength suggests that our local market has been relatively resilient to the national housing slump.

Last week, mortgage interest rate averages hit a 50-year low. The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan, for example, dropped from 4.32 percent to 4.15 percent.  As a result, refinance activity has increased. For the week ending in August 12, refinance accounted for 78.8 percent of total applications, up 3.2 percent from the previous week. (On a side note, now really is the time to refinance. Central Coast Lending offers a 30 Year fixed at 3.875 percent, 4.028 percent APR, and a 15 Year fixed at 3.250 percent, 3.430 percent APR).

Meanwhile, existing home sales continue to struggle, falling 3.5% to 4.67 million units in July. At this pace, it would take 9.4 months to sell the inventory on the market, which is well above typical supply in a normal market (below 6 months). As a result, economists expect that the imbalance between demand and supply will keep home prices low. In other words, as demand decreases, prices would need to decrease to move the excess supply.

Locally, the picture is quite different. July home sales grew 34.7 percent in San Luis Obispo County, including a 32.8 percent increase in existing home sales. The market is aided by the steady fall of local home prices. Currently, the median overall home price has dropped 13.2 percent from last year to $330,000, and a total of 44 percent since the 2006 high of $585,000.

In the second quarter, Arroyo Grande (sales up 25 percent, 6 month inventory), San Luis Obispo (sales up 10 percent, 5 month inventory), Atascadero (sales up 88 percent, 4 month inventory) and Paso Robles (sales unchanged, 5 month inventory) are showing particularly good health in home sales and supply.

Nationally, the stock market continues to fluctuate, with a general downward trend becoming apparent as the Dow remains settled below 11,000. Gold continues to reach new highs and government bonds remain in high demand, suggesting investors continue to look for safety from stocks. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak about short and long term US economic prospects Friday morning during the central bank’s gathering at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. California’s jobless rate climbed to 12 perfect in July after adding just 4,500 payroll jobs for the month. Keep checking in with Central Coast Lending’s Facebook and Blog for frequent updates about market news.

Written by Central Coast Lending - Go to Central Coast Lending's Website/Profile
805.543.LOAN info@centralcoastlending.com
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American Ninja Warrior Finale Monday

For those of you that watch American Ninja Warrior on the G4 network, don’t miss the finale from Japan.  It’s on Monday night at 9 PM on KSBY-NBC.

The first time I saw it advertised on G4 was tonite and had no clue it was airing on NBC. We have a talented team this year so it should be a good competition.

If you’re not familiar with American Ninja Warrior, it’s an athletic event where the contestants compete on obstacles.  It started in Japan and the goal is to complete the 3 rounds at the Japan course. Only 3 Japanese athletes have successfully completed it thus far.

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

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When do the Poly Crowds Return?

In case you were wondering, Cal Poly starts the fall quarter on September 12th.  The week before is when the Week of Welcome (WoW) happens and we see the groups of Wow-ies in downtown SLO and other places.

Cuesta College started their classes this week as well as the Lucia Mar School District.  Most other school districts start classes next week.  I guess the days are gone when K-12 school started after Labor day.

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

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Another Business Closed

My daughter and I decided we wanted a Quizno’s sandwich so we drove to the one on Foothill Blvd in SLO to find that they were out of business.  Bummer!  Yesterday, I stopped by Border’s (first time since they announced they were closing) and it was kinda depressing (although I did pick up a couple DVDs for less than $4 each).

I guess I need to make a point to frequent the businesses I really like to help them survive these tough times.

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

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Rate Update

The stock and bond markets showed extreme volatility in response to last Friday’s S&P downgrade on the US credit rating. But after things settled, there was some economic news that actually showed improvements in the economy that reduce the odds of a double-dip – Initial Jobless Claims finally broke through the key 400,000 level and Retail Sales figures for July showed the largest monthly jump in consumer spending since March. The ultimate stroke of irony occurred when interest rates finished the week 0.250% lower than it started following the downgrade, with the 15 Year Fixed mortgage rate falling to the lowest level on record.

This past week, the Dow did something it has never done before – in four straight trading sessions it registered swings of over 400 points. The 634-point decline on Monday was the worst point decline since December 1, 2008 and the sixth steepest ever. The consistent swings suggest an underlying uncertainty in the market, with fears about European debt, the instability of US finance, and a slowing economy taking center stage. With uncertainty and volatility taking hold, investors have continued to pour money into US government Treasury bills because there are few alternative safe-haven assets out there that can match the depth and liquidity of the Treasury market. The Federal Reserve Beige Book report also triggered knee-jerk reactions following their decision to leave short-term interest rates unchanged through mid-2013. It’s the first time the Fed has specified a date through which rates will remain “exceptionally low”. The committee also noted that the economy has grown “considerably slower” than expected and consumer spending “has flattened out”.

Currently, the 30 Year Fixed is 3.875% (4.018% APR) and the 15 Year Fixed is 3.250% (3.430% APR). The economic calendar this week includes Housing Starts and Building Permits, Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, Jobless Claims, Existing Home Sales, Leading Economic Indicators and the monthly inflation reports.

Written by Central Coast Lending - Go to Central Coast Lending's Website/Profile
805.543.LOAN info@centralcoastlending.com