Category Archives: Home Buying

Real Estate Growth in Sacramento

 

I found this little article and video on McKinley Village interesting – Let’s go take a look!

Video

Best,

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker

916.595.7900

Primer on Private Mortgage Insurance

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I just had a quick review on private mortgage insurance (PMI), due to a real situation with a client.  Most Realtors have to know a little something about mortgages, but with the ever-changing rules, laws and climate of the financial industry, it’s hard to stay on top of it all.   My client was quoted a certain rate on their PMI before getting into a contract to buy a home, and by the end the price had gone up almost $100/mo. from the original quote. While to some 100 bucks is chump change, to this client it almost broke the bank and killed the deal.   The client saw it more as $1200 extra a year and $6000 extra over 5 years. Here are some tidbit and a few new things I learned.

Most people know that PMI is required for FHA loans.  However, it’s any loan that is over 80% of the loan to value.  Or another way to put it, if a borrower does not put down 20% or more of the purchase price, PMI is required by the lender.  Many would see it like a punishment for not having enough money to put down.  This type of mortgage insurance is not for the borrower, rather it’s insurance for the mortgage company or note holder.  They are protecting themselves against the borrower defaulting on their loan.  The theory being, if a borrower puts more money down (in this case 20%) they are less likely to default or not pay their mortgage payment.  Or conversely, when there is less “skin in the game,” there is more reason to bail or default when times get tough.   A borrower can be relieved of this dreaded insurance by paying down their mortgage so that they have 20% equity, or their loan is 80% of the home value.  I’ve heard that mortgage companies are required to cancel the PMI once it hits 78%, but the savvy borrow might keep a closer eye on things and get it cancelled sooner.   The other way to get rid of PMI is if the market is favorable – over time values can increase to a point where the home is reappraised and the market has worked it’s magic… no more PMI!

Mortgage insurance is actually run by private companies, hence, private mortgage insurance (PMI).  It’s not run by the bank/lender or mortgage broker.  There are three main companies here in Sacramento, CA.  They post their rates, kind of like title companies, so there’s not much negotiating.  I learned though that the rate varies (goes up and down slightly) based on one’s credit score and amount of down payment.  FHA loans require 3.5% down payment – it may be worth it to see what the difference is if you can afford to put down 5% (1.5% more).  It could lower your cost in the long run.

Any other lenders and real estate buffs have more to add – feel free to comment.

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Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker

Klasssen & Associates / 916.595.7900

Wind-Water Knowledge in Real Estate

I’ve had several clients in the past that caused me to think more seriously about feng shui and pushed me to get a bit more educated on the topic.  This was especially the case when we would find, what I thought was the perfect home, yet the responses were, “Yeah, but it’s located on a ‘T’,” or “I really wish you could see the fireplace when you walk in,” or simply, “There’s not enough natural light.”  I understood people like natural like, but some of the other comments left me scratching my head.  I began to ask more questions and do some simple research.  Each one of these items and more stop the flow of the home for me have gotten in the way of a home sale.  Some things can be corrected with simply measures, while other items are almost impossible to over-come.   Here are some basic examples I’ve come across and a few links at the bottom of the page to guide you deeper.

bagua

The term feng shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English.  While a fad to some or superstition to others, feng shui has been popularized among people with money and hipsters alike, others take it more seriously, as a deeply rooted practice and way of being.

Colors are important, which can also be easily changed.  The placement of color in specific areas of your home can enhance your mood and demeanor.  Others would say that colors attract or magnify the energies of your life.  For example, certain colors in the bedroom can spice up one’s love life (or maybe just picking up dirty clothes would help!  My wife gets turned on when I clean the bathroom – ha ha).  Green is known to be the color of health and family – it makes sense to add plants to the living/family room of your home.

Flow and Organization – If a home is built a certain way not conducive to good flow, this may be hard to overcome, while arranging one’s furniture in a congruent, life-given way can be an easy enhancement.  The same goes for getting rid of clutter and cleaning – this a personal decision that takes just a little effort.  Entries and exits are important in feng shui.  Attracting good energies and blocking negative forces is key.  Open up the entryway for the good to flow in.   Some guru’s attest that a toilet lid must be kept down!  This “waterway” can suck positivity out of a home.  Fireplaces that can be seen from the entry encourage prosperity to leave one’s home, or be sucked out of one’s life (so I’m told).

The direction the house faces or is oriented is key … I’ve heard East is good.  But another friend said that the entrance to the North is better, due the sun exposure.

Numbers seem to be important.  Eights are good.  I know some agents price their listings with $_____, 888 at the end.  I’ve had buyers tell me to write the offer with 8’s (for good luck).  Someone told me that if the last two digits of the address adds up to eight, that’s good too.

Corners – I’ve heard that sharp corners are not good, say when it comes to small eating tables.  Some don’t like corner houses.  Homes located on a “T” are definitely bad feng shui.  Practically speaking, cars can run into a home easier in this case (nothing that some scrubs/trees or a few blockades won’t fix).  We had a neighbor whose parents warned them about bad spirits entering into their home since they lived on a “T.”  The fix was simply to hang a small crystal (like you’d see on an old chandelier) from a string at the entrance, as well as a small mirror and this did the trick.  When I asked why these objects, they said that this confused and repelled the bad spirits.

Death – Dead plants, trash around the house, a cluttered table, and dead people… many buyer’s have a hard time seeing through a mess, and many more clients buying a home want nothing to do with a property where a death has taken place – Some just want to know that it was peaceful, or not violent.  Whereas, I had an investor client who was not happy (or just not alarmed) to find out that a gang shooting had taken place at the house they were purchasing!  Really?  This became a negotiating tool for a deep discount.  A friend of mine had a dying tree in front of this home.  His father sternly told him, “Get rid of it… it’s blocking your wealth!”  He swears that they very next day his stock portfolio began to soar!

Whether your desire is to gain deeper soul-strength or just have a better flow in your home, I hope you found some inspiration, creativity and practical help in this post.  I’d love to hear some of your stories on how feng shui has affected your life.

Here’s some links to explore future.

http://fengshui.about.com/od/glossaryofterms/ss/Feng-Shui-Basics-Create-Good-Feng-Shui-Home.htm

http://inhabitat.com/9-simple-tips-to-feng-shui-your-home/

http://inhabitat.com/feng-shui-101-getting-started-with-the-basics-of-feng-shui/

 

Cheers,

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Keith Klassen, Broker

Klassen & Associates

916.595.7900

Love Letter to Seller – Does it Make a Difference?

Does it make a difference for a buyer to write and include a personal letter with an offer?  I jokingly call them love letters, because they can ooze with emotion and sometimes be kinda cheesy.

letter

Over the years, working with home buyers, I’ve been an advocate for the buyer writing a personal letter to the owner.  One might wonder if this even makes a difference?  I got my real estate license in 2005 and wrote my first offer on the house I’m living in today.  During those days, buying a home was extremely competitive and the prices were going through the roof.  A buyer had to do whatever they could to get an offer accepted.  So, I too wrote a “letter from the heart” on my first deal as a licensed agent.  It was flowery, heart-warming, and true – we loved the house (and still do!).  The seller subsequently told us that this separated our offer from the others, especially the part where you said, “[your child] immediately ran into the back yard and jumped on the play structure.”  Hmmm, I instantly learned, there’s something to this letter writing thing.

Subsequently, I’ve had many of the same experiences with other clients.  Just recently I listed a home where we received 3 offers.  One of them included a personal letter.  To my surprise the seller said, “I know that this one is lower in price, and you might think we are crazy, but we just love this buyer’s story and want to go with that offer!”

Try this with an investment property and the owner may laugh out loud.  I’ve actually had investor sellers tell me to not show them the personal letters because they didn’t want to be influences by their emotions.  This statement nails it on the head… We are humans with emotions.  Even though every seller wants the most money out of their sale, there is always the human element and emotions involved.

“What should I say in the letter?” is the next questions I get.  While I enjoy writing, not everyone is as confident with their prose.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Make it short and to the point – most people don’t want to read several pages on your life and journey of buying a home. Several paragraphs get the job done.
  • With that said, introduce yourself. Briefly say who you are and maybe something interesting that relates to the home.  Example:  We love the river and are so glad it’s in walking distance! OR,  This home is close enough for me to bike to work – this is so relieving since I’ve been commuting by car for 8 years, an hour each way! OR, I’ve always loved trains and always wanted to live next to the railroad tracks [I kid you not, I actually heard someone say this!]
  • You may even want to start by complimenting the owner in some way, without being heavy handed. Example:  When we walked into the house, we immediately knew this was the one for us!  Purple is our favorite color and we absolutely love the stenciled lettering above the bed, that reads, “YOU ARE AWESOME!”  The deal was done when we saw the bidet in the bathroom – ahhh to be back in Paris again!  Okay, I’m trying to be funny here and this is an example of heavy-handedness, but you get the point.   When done appropriately, a little flattery goes a long way.  How about this:  We love your sense of style and can tell you really cared for this house.
  • Briefly talk about how this house fits you. Do you have a family that you will raise here and enjoy it for years to come?  Is your elderly mom going to live with you and the downstairs bedroom is perfect?  Are you single, and this downtown loft is a “babe magnet?”  [okay don’t say that].
  • End with a “thank you for considering our offer.  And, we look forward to a smooth transaction.

What else would you include or omit?  Do you have success stories of your own, or maybe a reason why not to include a personal letter?  Your stories and feedback are always welcome.

Cheers!

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

 

New Development in Curtis Park, Sacramento

Yeah, I know what you were hoping for… an article about Curtis Park rail yard development.  Sorry not on this one – no chit chat about gas station wars and dollar stores.  Instead I’m inviting you to follow my own development experience as I build out two houses.  I hope to post some thoughts on the grueling process of splitting the lot / sub-dividing the parcel map.  Could be educational to some – loads of learning from my mistakes and experience.  I’ll be talking about the ins and outs of the scope of work, contracting, and architectural plans.  I’d love some feedback on the design elements when we get to the interior (yeah, everyone loves the interior – this is the sexy part).  Ultimately, these babies will be sold and I will be high-fiving my contractor and business partner.  Welcome to my housing development journey.house rendering

Brief background

If you live in the area, you can check out the progress on 5th Ave., highway 99 frontage road, and Portola Alley.  I bought the house on 5th Ave. in 2008 and got the approval to subdivide the parcel later that year into 3 lots (original house sits on one, leaving 2 to build on).  Oh yes, it came with conditions.  I figured a budget of $25,000 to do curb and gutter work and maybe a few other things.  The City gave me a laundry list of improvements that got bid out between $100,000-125,000 – Yikes!  That killed the deal quickly.  So for the next six years I paid a portion of the property taxes and kept the weeds down.

5th ave overview pic

Fast forward to 2014… I saw a house sell for a decent price on the alley and knew it was time to build.  I got a contractor on board to share the project and do the work at cost (cutting the improvement work cost more than half).

Contact me if you want to discuss the boring, but essential ins and outs of engineering, special use permits, bonding, traffic plans, dealing with the City/fighting with the City (everyone has their war stories), utilities, etc.

We’ve begun improvement work – manholes, water main, sewer main, fire hydrant, and much more!  At the same time I’ve got an architect putting plans together and submitting to the Design Review Board.  In addition, I just got bids from five structural engineers and Title 24 bids.  Yay, getting serious.

lot clearing

Scrubbing the lot earlier 2016

 

“Man holes” – or should I be PC and call them “people holes” – might get a few weird looks?

 

Dropping the “hole” in the ground

Jimmy is the MAN!

Never thought I’d be so exited about a fire hydrant.

Water main beginnings.

Stay tuned for the next phase.

Cheers,

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Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker / 916.595.7900

Curtis Park Villiage (Sacramento) is Becoming a Reality

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After years of debate, soil treatment, neighborhood meetings, planning and develop the Curtis Park Village is now in full swing.  Twenty fourth Street is now  open to drive through, and unbuilt/pre-release homes have hit the market.  These stylish “cottage” homes (as they are referred to on the listings) have 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and range from 1790 to  2163 sq. ft., with options of a den, 4th bedroom, and one car or tandem garage.  They are listed from $564,990 to $609,990.

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One of my first thoughts was, “I wonder at what rate will that sell?  Are they going to go like hot cakes, or sit there with  price adjustments, etc.  Currently one has already gone pending, which is a good sign that they are a hot commodity.  It clear that first-comers will get choices of location, different options and amenities, and maybe will get in on the lowest price?  If the sell fast, those prices could go up!

Leave a comment or give me a call if interested and I can forward you the listings, or set up an appointment with the sellers for  more in depth information about the properties.

Truly,

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Keith Klassen, Broker

916.669.9030

Appraiser Kills Another Deal

[in a very sarcastic tone of voice]

I love spending uncountable hours searching the internet, showing many properties, counseling the buyer, writing a contract (with many revisions), coordinating with the lender/loan officer, scheduling and attending multiple inspections, re-showing the property, counseling the client, meeting for lunch and coffee multiple time to sign disclosures and paperwork, running numbers, Negotiating repairs, etc., etc., etc., …. ONLY TO BE KILLED BY AN APPRAISAL THAT COMES IN $16,000 UNDER THE CONTRACT PRICE.  This killed the deal for both the seller and buyer.  It is not a flip, short sale, or bank owned.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I excel in these situations, but this is ridiculous!

[in a serious tone of voice]

Here are some of the wonderful aspect of the property…

New paint (inside and out); Newer roof; New electrical and plumbing; Renovated kitchen and bathroom; Newer central heat and air; Double size lot; Historic built-in china cabinet; New front door; Several new windows; Section 1 and 2 of pest report to be cleared, and more!

Yes, this property happens to be in Oak Park, Sacramento, but most all knowledgeable appraisers and agents know that Oak Park is “street by street.”  I personally know several of the residents on this street.  Comparing this home to homes a mile away does not do the home justice.

I am coming to believe that this area is being redlined.

Again, my question stands:  When will the market drive the market oppose to appraiser and bank practices?

Enjoy,

Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker

916.669.9030