Rate Update

Mortgage rates held steady during the holiday-shortened week thanks to light trading and mixed economic data. There were some encouraging signs of improvement with Initial Jobless Claims dropping to their lowest level since July 2008, at 407,000 for the week ending November 20. We also had Consumer Sentiment reach the highest level since June. Residential real estate, however, continues to weigh down the economic recovery with Existing Home Sales dropping 2.2% in October from the month prior, and sales falling 25.9% year-over-year. Distressed homes accounted for 34% of all sales. Median home prices fell 0.9% from a year ago. Home inventories decreased slightly to a 10.5 month supply, but are still at a high level and up 8.4% year-over-year. Currently, the 30 Year Fixed is 4.125% (4.267% APR) and the 15 Year Fixed is 3.375% (3.623% APR) This will be another busy week with the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Consumer Confidence, Construction Spending, ISM manufacturing data, Beige Book, Jobless Claims, Pending Home Sales, and unemployment data.

Was the Home You’re Wanting to Purchase Used as a Meth Lab?

If you’re interested in a home, you want to find out all you can about the home to make sure there aren’t any surprises. That’s why there are mandatory disclosures that the Seller must do and you hope they do. When you use a Realtor, there are disclosure forms that the Seller must fill out at least will make the Seller answer a Yes or No to.  If you buy a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), you’re trusting that the Seller knows what items they must disclose.

If the home was used as a meth lab is one of those disclosures a Seller must make. If you’re a Buyer, you’ll want to do your own homework like you should do with looking up the Megan’s list database for registered sex offenders in a neighborhood.  Don’t rely on a home inspector to know if a home was used as a meth lab.

You can  look up if a home has been found to contain chemicals used for a meth lab at the DEA site here:

Search the DEA database here

There are currently 10 homes listed in the database for SLO County (2 in Atascadero, 2 in Paso Robles, and one in the following cities: Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Nipomo, San Luis Obispo, and Templeton).

SLO Area Ranked #9 in Safest Places to Live

The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies has released its third annual ranking of top 20 ‘Most Secure U.S. Places to Live’. Factors such as crime statistics, unemployment rates and risks of environmental hazards, terrorism threats, natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, were taken into consideration.

The top 20 safest places to live among mid-size cities are:

1. Las Cruces, New Mexico
2. Rockingham County-Strafford County, New Hampshire
3. Huntington, West Virginia.-Ashland, Kentucky
4. Bellingham, Washington
5. Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont
6. Lynchburg, Virginia
7. Medford, Oregon
8. Prescott, Arizona
9. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, California
10. Binghamton, New York
11. Provo-Orem, Utah
12. St. Cloud, Minnesota
13. Fargo, North Dakota
14. Hagerstown, Maryland -Martinsburg, West Virginia
15. Olympia, Washington
16. Charlottesville, Virginia
17. Chico, California
18. Richland-Kennewick-Pasco, Washington
19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
20. Duluth, Minnesota

The “C” Word….Commissions!

I was reading a real estate agent message board today and there was a thread titled

Do you show listings that pay less than 3%?

This type of thread really irritates me. First, it’s rare that I see these discussions since usually there is a smart real estate agent that chimes in that discussing this could result in a fine or loss of license as you can’t blackball listings because of the level of commission offered. Unfortunately for this thread, no agent was smart enough to realize this topic shouldn’t be discussed but what it did show is that there are agents out there do look at commission percentages to determine which homes to show their clients. To me, these type of agents are the bottom of the barrel and shouldn’t be in this industry.

So, how do Buyers make sure they are seeing ALL the listings?

If you are reading this, you already know about my site with my MLS Searches. I put EVERY home that I’m able to display in my searches. Gone are the days that the agent could pick and choose what listings to give to a client and keep the client in the dark about other listings for sale. I should restate that, for Buyers using the Internet, the days are gone. There are still a small percentage of Buyers that don’t search for homes on the Internet and rely solely on an agent.

I also believe that a Buyer should know how much commission is being offered the Buyer’s Agent on homes they are interested in. The  Buyer should ask the agent rather than the agent automatically disclosing  the commission rate to their Buyer because if the Buyer didn’t understand the way commissions work, it may just confuse things.  I would love to be able to display commission rates for listings on my site so Buyers that were interested could get this info but commission percentage is considered confidential information in the MLS rules, so I’m unable to include them.   A good Buyers Agent won’t see anything wrong with a Buyer asking. But, if the agent says they aren’t able to disclose this or give some other excuse, that would raise a red flag to me. Best thing to do is when you first talk with a Buyers Agent, tell them you’d like to know the commission percentage being offered on homes. If the Agent won’t do this, go find another Buyers Agent BEFORE you start looking at homes with them.

There is another solution which would just remove any thoughts that an agent may be pushing a home that offered the agent higher commission. When you start working with a Buyers Agent, just tell them that they will receive a minimum of x% for their service they are providing you. If the commission being offered by the Seller on a home is lower than x%, the Buyer will make up the difference.

On the same message board, there was another thread about a Listing strategy that one agent uses and says he has had success with. In his “strategy”, he prices the home 10% higher than what the comps say and starts out at 3% commission for Buyer Agents. Then if the home doesn’t sell, instead of lowering the price, he raises the commission. He claims to have gone as high as 12%.  He uses the term “raise the bribe” in the post.  Don’t know what to say about this other than I’m glad this agent isn’t in our area.   I really don’t know how this strategy will work in this market as the home would need to be appraised unless the Buyer was paying all cash (no mortgage) and the bank probably wouldn’t loan on a home that is overpriced. But, it does show another reason why Buyers should know what commission is being offered to the Buyers Agent for homes they are interested in.

If you want to sell your home, I’ll give you the ultimate strategy on how to do this…..price it right and make it easy to show!



Dec 11th- Holiday Parade


December 4th- Lighted Boat Parade  6:30pm


December 5th -Christmas Tree Lighting 5:00 pm, corner of  Ocean and 5th.

December 10th-Christmas by the Beach Open House 5:30-8:30 pm, Ocean Ave.


December 1-23 – Holiday in the Pines

A month long celebration including Festival of the Trees- Dec 1 and Hospitality Night Dec 2.

Earth Gazing from the International Space Station

Those of you who love to star watch might also love seeing earth from the stars. NASA and the astronauts aboard the newly internet –wired space station are beaming down beautiful images to viewers all over the world. A couple of the astronauts have even started games via Twitter. Douglas Wheelock, the commander of the International Space Station, sends a picture of a mystery location and the first person to guess the location wins a prize. This week’s photo was of Italy and last weeks the Nile River. Another game involves geography trivia and was started by the newest American space station resident, Scott Kelly. Schoolchildren and grown-ups all over the world are captivated and can’t seem to get enough. What a great way to excite and engage a new generation of learners and future scientists/astronomers. Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/2e8jelf.  NASA has also created a Twitter feed that consolidates the astronauts’ tweets at http://twitter.com/NASA/astronauts-in-space-now.  You don’t need to be logged into Twitter to view.
Happy Earth Watching and Happy Thanksgiving!