Tag Archives: Foreclosure

Have we hit bottom in the Sacramento CA housing Market?

This is a question I get asked frequently and one that I hear attempting to be answered.  “Have we hit the bottom of the housing market?  At times I have fallen prey to the common thinking that says, “How much worse can it get?  The market has dropped ____%, how much more can it go down?”  Then the conclusion… “We must be at the bottom.”  Anyone with their head in the game has thought/asked this.

However, after just doing a little research you will find that there are key economic forces in play that have to change (unemployment for one) before “the bottom” is reached AND our economy comes out of the recession in which we find ourselves.  Forecasters have been calling the bottom for the last 2 years or longer.  So have we hit bottom yet?

For an excellent read on some of these economic factors, check out this article, The Orwellian Recovery.  The author succinctly states,  “I don’t see how housing prices can recover at the same time inventories, mortgage rates, and unemployment rise.”

A colleague an I were discussing this topic over coffee today… what’s going to happen when the government backs off the stimulus and interest rates rise?

It’s a complicated and highly opinionated topic, what are your thoughts?


Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker


Real Estate Therapy in Sacramento, CA

Lately I’ve had the privilege of gaining several buyer referrals, where the previous real estate agent, for a variety of reasons, was not able or capable of getting the job done.  One agent was in the business part-time and did not have the availability to do the follow through.  Another situation, the agent said to the buyers, “You are too picky… you need to expand your search and buyer something [now].”  I’ve retold that story many times… how crazy is that?!  I mean, there are thoughts that might go through my head about certain buyer characteristics (especially if I’m hungry, tired, or unbalanced)… but let’s just say, FILTER!  Let me say it again, FILTER!  If I said everything I was thinking, I might get beat up (and that’s just my wife – ha ha ha).  Back to the subject… My point… plain and simple I’ve had the good fortune of capitalizing on other agent’s inability to do their job (well).  One frustrated client said, “Our agent wouldn’t return our calls!”  Most recently, I received a referral on a client whose previous agent decided that they could not make a living in real estate any more (this is pretty common these days).

While this phenomenon has been good for my business and is a nice pat on the back, as I imagine the ones referring these clients say, “Call Keith, he’s the most solid (best, most professional, gets-the-job-done, intelligent, savvy…) Realtor I know!”  Okay, emphasis on I imagine.  Bottom line, I call people back, am full-time, and don’t say (aloud) everything that passes through my head.  It’s been good to get these referral, however, I find myself having mini-counseling sessions to give these beat-up buyers real estate therapy.  These are wonderful people now on edge due to their past agents.  For the one client, she kept asking me during the showing process, “Do you think I’m too picky?”  My response, “Why yes I do, let’s stop right now, I can’t take it any longer!”  Of course not!  And I wasn’t even thinking that 🙂  Here’s the genuine and right response, “You should be picky.  You are making one of the biggest investments of your life.  My role is to assist and help you find your ideal home that fits your buying criteria.”  Agents, takes notes – this is real estate 101 / Socialization 201.

You will be helping yourselves as well as your clients when you help them focus their search.  If they don’t want a swimming pool… don’t show them homes with swimming pools.  If the client can only afford a $250,000 home, then don’t show them homes that are listed at $300,000.  If they are using a down-payment assistance program that requires that they buy an REO (bank owned property)… yep, you got it, only show them bank owned properties.  I know, not rocket science, however, it requires that the agent listens, and asks questions, and takes notes, and is actually engaged.  The other day I met a clients for the first time that was frustrated and burnt out on her last agent.  I found out through listening to her story that they’ve looked at 40-50 homes over the last 5-6 months.  Naturally I asked, “What were some of the things about those homes that did not work for you?”  She replied, “Well, most needed too much work, and I don’t have a lot of money to do a lot of work.  Many had swimming pools, and I definitely do not want a pool.  Others backed up to a busy street, and I don’t like the noise.”  She went on.  I took notes.  Wen she was done I ask more questions and learned that she also was allergic to cats, loved gardening, and has a niece that would be living with her.  I asked specific questions like, “What do you mean by ‘a lot of work’?” And, “How much money could you spend on fix up costs.”  And, “what is your favorite thing about this house?” And, “Does your niece need to be in walking distance of the school?”  And, “What matters most in buying a home on the list we’ve created?”  Again, this is not new or an unusual tool in the agent’s belt, but I am surprised how little it is used.

I’ve found it a refreshing experience to have these real estate therapy sessions. The client finds relief from frustration.  They feel cared for and in good hands.  They get motivated and excited to find that home, as they now know we are not going to just look at anything that pops up.  The homes we look at will all be potential purchases.

My therapy sessions are free.

What are some experiences you’ve had as an agent or a buyer? I’d love to hear your story.

Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker


Faded Lady – The Guild in Oak Park, CA

The Guild Theater in Oak Park sends my thoughts back to a different era.  Oak Park has a fascinating history, that enjoyed a time of boom.  I love this building, the sign, and the brick work, yet I’ve not had the chance to go inside.

A friend of mine said that he when to a community gathering there about 6 or 7 years ago and water was leaking in from the ceiling.  Since then I believe that it has been restored.  I bet it was a wonderful place in it’s hay day, and still could be!

Old Soul Coffee house just moved in around the corner… signs of revitalization to come?


Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker


Real Estate by the Numbers – Sacramento CA

Now IS the time to buy.  This is no secret.  Let me show you quickly a few real examples of deals that I’ve closed.

Exmaple 1:

Use to pay $1300 in rent for a 3 bedroom home.

– Purchase Price $125,000; 3.5% downpayment (FHA loan); will get $8,000 tax incentive from government

– 3 bedroom 1 bath home; B- area (not the best area, but not terrible); complete remodel with new roof, HVAC, water heater,kitchen and bathroom, flooring, windows, fireplace (all new!) and more.  It has a large 2 car garage.

– Monthly payment including principle, interest, tax and insurance, and PMI = ~$950/month!

They are saving money for buyer vs. renting, plus they will not have huge tax write offs AND $8,000 to buy whatever they want.

Example 2:

Another buyer did the same thing on a $130,000 home it the same area – this home needed a little work, but qualified for FHA financing.  This was a 4 bedroom 2 bath home.

[the pictures posted are the actual homes]

There are still great deals out there for those serious about buying.


Keith Klassen

Real Estate Broker

Consolodated Furnace with Nox Rods

I learn something new everyday.  Last week one of my clients had a home inspected on which they made an offer.  Everything seemed to be going smoothly… then he dropped this bomb on us. ” The heater is a consolidated type with NOx RODS.” The rest of us looked at each other blankly.  “This type of furnace has been recalled because it is know to combust and burned people homes down” – just what the client wants to hear!  From a sales point of view, this could be a deal- killer.  From a safety standpoint, this could save people’s lives.

Do an internet search on Nox Rods and you will be amazed at the long list of warnings.  For us, I was able to negotiate with the seller to hire an HVAC specialist to give this unit a “good bill of health” and their stamp of approval, since not all Nox Rod furnaces are created equal.  If not safe, they said that they would replace it.  Also it re-enforces the premise, just because homes are sold “as-is” and the seller states up front that they will do no repairs… “health and safety” always trumps that rigmarole.


Keith Klassen

Real Estate Broker

Short Sales – Taking it Personal

I have landed in a place where I am selling a few of the properties I own, in a short sale position.  It seems like a year ago there would have been ridicule and maybe a little pity for those poor folks who find themselves in this situation.  I struggled to come to grips with this reality and felt some remorse.  Now we all know someone who is facing foreclosure, being “upside-down,” late on their mortgage payments, or trying to short sell their home.

Short sales may currently comprise up to 75% of the market right now.  All arrows are pointing to 2010 to be the year of short sales.  Supposedly banks are getting government incentives and getting a clue in general.  Oppose to letting these homes foreclose, a short sale is now the most workable route for both the owners and banks.  Personally I’ve had successes with short sale at the end of last year and one already this year, which has changed my demeanor toward them.  Now I trudge through the grueling process of pushing my own properties through.

I met with an agent and his buyer at my 4-plex that is up for short sale yesterday.  After handing me the offer we discussed the short sale process.  The other agent commented, “They should be called long sales, not short sales!”  For the most part, very true.  I just closed one that took the bank 4 months to approve.  While another one that I listed got approval in 1 week!  I still stand in unbelief.  I just contacted an agent representing a short sale property, where they had a buyer waiting for ….. 15 months!!!! before they said, “Uh, this is ridiculous!  We’re outta here! [my conjecture]”

I hold my breath and wait to see how my own experience will transpire.


Keith Klassen

Real Estate Broker

Short Sales Revisited

In past posts I’ve been adamantly against short sales due to all the hiccups involved.  It is still true that a buyer needs patience, emotional disconnect, and a reality check, however, this year and the years to come might be much different.

Definition – Short Sale:  When a home’s value is less than the money owed on the note/mortgage; This produces a scenario where the lender (one holding the note) is given the opportunity to approve or reject an offer to “forgive” the difference between the offer amount (and real estate fees) and the current amount owed on the loan.

To reiterate:

1) Patience – I closed a few short sales this year for buyers and the average wait to hear back from the bank on an approval was 2 months.  I currently have an offer out there for a client on a short sale and we’ve waited about 4 months with no approval from the bank as of yet.  The other agent keeps saying, “soon, soon… hopefully soon.”

2) Emotional Disconnect – This is a tough one… How does one make an offer on a home to live in and not become somewhat emotionally attached?  It can be such an emotional roller coaster!  Here’s the real picture – one can make an offer and finally hear back from the bank 2 months later, only to find out that the sale is not approved.  Or, what is more common, there is no approval or call back, just the information that the home has gone to foreclosure.

3) Reality check – Much of the time short sales are listed in better condition and less expensive than REO/Bank Owned properties.  Why is that?  That’s what I ask my clients.  Here is the answer – the agent is never sure what the bank will accept until an offer is received and submitted to the bank.  So, in fact, the listing price is not completely accurate.  And it stands to reason that an agent might just list it for lower in an attempt to garner offers.

Here’s the other side of the coin.  I just took a short sale listing.  The seller’s were very cooperative in filling out our short sale package.  My staff and I were diligent to contact the bank.  We did out own Broker Price Opinion (BPO) and due diligence.  We priced it fairly and receive multiple offers.  We picked the best one and submitted it to the bank with all of the information they requested (we knew this ahead of time).  The offer was accepted and approved by the bank within ONE WEEK! I add the emphasis because my jaw also dropped with I heard this news.  I can’t really take too much credit either, but I do know that the banks appreciate a complete package and agents that have their act together.

Bottom line, my faith is renewed for short sales.  Also this coming year I believe that along with government incentive, laws being pasted, and banks getting more adept at dealing with short sales, this segment of the market will be huge.

My company is primed and geared to entertain many short sales in the year to come.  Let me know if you have questions, or think you are a candidate for short selling your home.


Keith Klassen

Real Estate Broker

Backyard Adventures – Sacramento Real Estate

After viewing 1000’s of properties and seeing the most bizarre things, whether it  be the configuration of the house itself, or strange and funny sights in the back yard… I began to photograph and record some of these adventures.

Pictures just don’t do justice to the enormity of these cacti.  These desert monsters formed a wall across the back of the yard.  Forget about a fence or barb wire, these bad boys would keep out any intruder.  Plus, if these cacti could speak, I bet they would tell tales of the previous inhabitant cooking up their cacti ancestors on the BBQ (or however they are prepared)!  Or maybe how dinosaurs use to drink the nectar from these plants millions of years ago.

I could not get over the size!

cacti.andy cacti

Andy (a friendly investor client) almost got swallowed up and abducted by this cactus!  And yes that is a mammoth brick BBQ that is about to get crushed by anther behemoth cacti!  Oh, and power lines overhead…  well, I feel bad for the SMUD worker that will have to risk life and limb to retain and avert these beasts.

I am in awe!

The Best Time to Buy/Invest in Sacramento Real Estate

1) Right now Sacramento consumer confidence is on the rise.

2) The interest rate is extremely low (about 5%, maybe lower).  And everyone predicts that it will not stay this low, and in fact may skyrocket (according to Obama, as we continue to borrow from other countries).  As the interest rates go up, even if the prices go down, this will take many potential buyers out of the market.

3) One report shows that the housing affordability index is the best it has been in 40 years.

Call me or write if you want to see the numbers OR discuss your scenario.

Common Investor Questions – Sacramento Real Estate

I get many questions from interested investors, so I thought I’d start posting them, as I’m sure others have the same questions.

Question/Inquiry from potential investor [May 27, 2009]

I heard that it is possible to achieve ~ $600 per month positive cash flow.  I would like to develop in my mind a profile of these types of properties so that I have a better idea of what I am looking for.

Here this is how I responded:

1) Cash flow will always depend on your finance situation.  For instance, the more money one is able to put down, the more cash flow (up to 100% cash flow).  My first question for you is, how much are you able to put down?  Or, what is your comfort level?  Or what is your budget?  Are you obtaining a loan?  Or would this be a cash transaction.

2) One way many investors are generating big rewards and high cash flows is to buy under valued properties that need value added.  This demands cash reserves to do put toward renovations.  Also, many times these types of properties do not qualify for a loan due to the poor condition of a property.

3) Also, $600 cash flow might be on the high side of expectations.  I have closed a few deals with investors that have received that kind of cash flow by putting 20% down and at times buying their rate down.  One recent scenario was a duplex that sold for $105K; 20% down; $10-12K in renovation; bought the rate down to about 5.25% – his total housing payment (including taxes and insurance) is about $700/mo. and he’s getting $1600 in rents.  This is a dream scenario, but as you can see it takes some reserves to pull it off.

4) A very common situation is a SFR in the $80-120K range that needs $2500 in repair, and would cash flow $300-$400/month.

What questions do you have?