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Right Along With the Grunge Look, the Housing Crisis is Over

May 28th, 2008 · 7 Comments

Yes, for those of you gents who still may be holding on to the rather relaxed “grunge” look from the 1990’s, I’ve got a newsflash for you: grunge, along with the current housing crisis, is over.  

Articles about the housing crisis ending have been few and buried in their respective periodical, my favorite of which was in TIME magazine back in February titled, “Ignore the Headlines“.  But now we have the Wall Street Journal. claiming that the trough was reached in April with an article from May 6, “The Housing Crisis is Over“.

I agreed with Peter Lynch back in February.., and it’s becoming more an more apparent that the longer prospective home-buyers sit on the fence, the more expensive that home purchase will become.  And this is not just because I believe that home prices will rise, it’s also because I believe that both long and short term interest rates will rise.  The 10-year Treasury Note, for example, is up over 1/2% since the middle of March, and the 10-year Treasury Note is a decent barometer to use when you want to know what the trend in long term mortgage rates have been.

That written, if you really want to continue with the grunge look, might I suggest saving it for your next camping trip?

As always, kindly consult with your trusted real estate, tax and mortgage professional before seriously considering any home purchase.

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Tags: Buyer and seller tips · Consumer · For buyers · Industry · Mortgages · Real estate

Eliot Spitzer and Making Sense of the New Conforming Loan Limits

March 18th, 2008 · 5 Comments

If you’re Eliot Spitzer, probably three feelings come to mind: panic, disorientation and regret.  But if you’re a potential home buyer in the Peninsula region of California, you have good reason to feel excited, encouraged and confident!  Why?  If you read my last post last month, you know that the conforming loan limits for many California Counties are going up and that means cheaper mortgage rates on loan amounts between $417,001 and $729,750.  Now that HUD has made it official that ALL bay Area counties qualify for the revised maximum conforming loan limit, that means potentially big savings on mortgages for qualified applicants looking to purchase single-unit properties up to $810,000 with as little as 10% down!

We’ve all heard the cliche, “the devil’s in the details”, so what are the latest requirements to obtain a conforming loans between $417,001 and $729, 750?  Since I’ll provide you with a link to Fannie Mae website and announcement , I’ll provide you with some highlights that I think are most relevant and let you read further at your leisure:

1. Single-unit properties only

2. Purchase and “limited cash out” transactions only (i.e. no greater than $2,000 going into your pocket upon settlement)

3. If primary residence purchase, up to 90% loan-to-value (”LTV”) allowed if fixed-rate program is selected–700 minimum FICO(R) required; 80% LTV if an adjustable-rate loan is selected–660 minimum FICO(R) required; if refinance

4. If second home or investment property purchase, maximum 60% LTV allowed with minimum 660 FICO(R) regardless of eligible loan program selected

5. If refinance, regardless of type of eligible mortgage program, up to 75% LTV allowed, plus subordinate financing allowed in addition up to 20% LTV–660 minimum FICO(R) required

     a. SPECIAL NOTE, consolidating existing first mortgage and subordinate mortgage into one loan NOT eligible AND six  months of “seasoning” (six payments made on existing mortgage) required to refinance!

6. Loans are eligible for origination NOW 

7. Eligible programs include 30-year fixed, 15-year fixed, LIBOR-based 5/1 ARM (amortized and interest-only payments allowed for this program)– more programs may become available

8. Sufficient employment, income and assets must be verified and each file will require manual underwriting– automated underwriting engines not allowed at this time

Again, I do encourage you to read the Fannie Mae announcement from the 6th of March for all the details, but the above are the top highlights.

So what will pricing look like on these “new” conforming mortgages?  Well, pricing has just recently been released by only a few institutions, but it looks like the 30-year fixed is running at about 6.375% and the 15-year fixed is running at about 6.25%.  The 5/1 ARM pricing is expected to be released next month.  What I do think is that pricing may actually get a little better in the short term as more institutions post pricing and auctions are successful with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

What’s right for you as a would be home buyer on the Peninsula?  That depends of course on your specific situation, and I do encourage you to consult with your trusted mortgage and financial consultant before placing an offer on a home or refinancing your mortgage.  What I can say is that the majority of our clients who are buying or refinancing today are selecting a jumbo 5-year ARM in the mid-5% range due to its balance of savings, security and flexibility.

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Tags: * Type of Content · Buyer · Buyers · Consumer · Industry

If Iowa Hog Farmers Can Be Paid to NOT Raise Hogs, Can I Be Paid to NOT Blog?

March 25th, 2007 · 11 Comments

Maybe I should submit this one to the Carnival of Brilliant Business Ideas? Maybe I should go on late night TV and try to sell this idea?

There are many reasons for people in real estate to be blogging. Premier among these are the essence of blogging itself: enjoying the process of writing, creating connections, meeting new people, educating yourself, honing your wit and writing style.

But, at the end of the day, very few of us blog for charity. Real estate is a business, this is how we make our living, and so a constant refrain is, “Where’s the money?”

Well, I think I’ve found what we’ve all been looking for: the ultimately scalable, easy to start, even easier to manage real estate blogging money-making idea.

Through sheer grit, lots of writing, a good number of incoming links, and a bit of luck, Google now considers my blog if not famous, then at least respectable, to the point where if I mention a non-celebrity’s name — say, a local real estate agent — within 48 hours my blog rises to the top 10 when you search for that agent’s name.

Realtors are nothing if not publicity-hungry. (If you doubt that, open your local paper’s Sunday real estate supplement. Have you ever seen so many happy faces smiling out at you?) One of the reasons most agents have a web site (typically branded with their name) is so that prospective clients can find out more about them.

So what happens when three of the top ten Google spots about John Q. Agent come not from John Q. Agents’ web site, but from my blog? Assuming John Q. Agent finds out about it — which, to be honest, is unlikely — he ain’t gonna be that happy. At the same time, since I’m writing a real estate blog and enjoy first amendment privileges as much as the next guy, it’s perfectly within my rights to write about John Q. Agent — as long as I don’t slander him.

So, here’s the deal: Pay me $50/month, and I won’t blog about you. Then the top 10 spaces on Google for your name will be your web site, and the local newspaper which has your listings in it, and the interview from four years ago that describes what a charitable person you are. My blog? Nowhere to be found.

Here’s the genius of this idea: Writing about lots of people takes time. Not writing about lots of people takes absolutely no time! In fact, I could become so good at not writing, that I could end up not writing about thousands and thousands of people!

Any takers?

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Tags: Blogging · Industry · Real estate · Real estate blogging

Fun with Google map mashups: Introducing the world’s first real estate blogmap (possibly)

January 6th, 2007 · No Comments

If you search for something on Google and you don’t find it, does that mean it doesn’t currently exist? If so, this may indeed by the world’s first real estate blogmap. And if it’s not, well, heck, it’s pretty cool nonetheless.

Click on the markers in this map to see recent neighborhood posts…

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Tags: Blogmap · Real estate · Real estate blogging

Redfin’s citizen bloggers are doing a great job in Seattle — can’t wait to see what they have to say about Bay Area real estate!

December 28th, 2006 · 4 Comments

Lest I be accused of being a Redfin-basher, I have to say their “citizen bloggers” are doing a bang-up job.  Several times a day their “Sweet Diggs” posts appear on my blog reader, and they’re always a pleasure to read, and are sometimes downright entertaining.  “Real estate listings” and “good writing” are uncommon bedfellows as we’re usually subjected to linguistically challenged gems like, “Grt valu! LotsOfLight! Recent remmodel. Firplace.”

Check out this description by blogger Anna McCain of a home on Bainbridge island:

Could the Seabreeze be my very favorite new project on the Bainbridge condo scene? Would this have anything to do with the impending arrival of Bon Bon–a chocolate shop slated to open here between Christmas and New Year’s–alongside what will reportedly be a tea house? Chocolate and tea? On Bainbridge? I say yes to that.

I couldn’t purchase a condo here personally or I’d end up sitting in bed surrounded by mutilated glossy chocolate boxes, like someone out of Stuart Saves his Family.

I understand a squad of Redfin citizen bloggers are about to be dispatched in the Bay Area, and I’m looking forward to reading their descriptions of listings here too.

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Tags: Real estate · Real estate blogging · Redfin

3oceans meets 360digest

December 8th, 2006 · 3 Comments

kevin-and-marlow.jpgEn route to Microsoft for a lunch with some friends of mine, I had coffee earlier today with none other than Marlow Harris, one of the Grand Dames of real estate blogging. If your ears were ringing, it’s probably because we were talking about you!

Marlow is a class act, a fount of real estate experience, smarts, and ideas, and it was an absolute pleasure meeting her. We talked about…you guessed it — our families, our hobbies, our friends, and maybe a snippet or two about the business of real estate, about other real estate bloggers, and about Zillow and Redfin.

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Tags: Marlow Harris · Real estate · Real estate blogging

Another great Redfin idea…about to collide with the reality of the real estate business

December 1st, 2006 · 12 Comments

This by way of Joel Burslem from the Future of Real Estate Marketing

redfin.gif detective.jpg

Redfin is on the prowl for a cadre of real-estate-obsessed bloggers to tour neighborhood open houses, take pictures, and write up brief reports.  The objective –  “to create an insanely addictive blog about everything that moves in Seattle real estate.”

In the comments on Joel’s post, Greg Swann wonders if this is a conspiracy to avoid procuring cause dilemmas.  Personally?  I think it’s an excellent marketing idea, with no ulterior motive, and I certainly wish them the best…but, befitting Redfin, they may not have thought through this all the way.

First, many Realtor associations have bans on advertising other people’s listings without permission.  It’s a sensible rule, designed to prevent Agent A from taking out full page ads advertising Agent B’s listings.  Redfin already regularly talks about non-Redfin listings on its blog, and seems to have gotten away with it so far, possibly because the compliance folks at the realtor associations haven’t stumbled across them yet.  Is “talking about” somebody else’s listing the same as “advertising it without permission?”  Hard to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody tries to make a case out of it.

Secondly, if some random person comes in off the street on a weekend afternoon into an open house and starts taking pictures, most agents would put a stop to it pretty quickly on grounds of security and privacy.  Again, that’s probably quite reasonable — the pictures in the MLS are meant to give a good feel for the home, and some random person  taking pictures of it simply can’t make the listing agent or owner comfortable.

Finally, if any of the blog reviews are even remotely critical of a home, and the listing agent (or home owner) comes upon it…things could get dicey.  There’s First Amendment free speech and all that, but there’s gotta be MLS laws in most areas preventing Redfin from publicly panning somebody else’s listing.

That’s the thing about Redfin — they have some fantastic consumer-friendly ideas, but they don’t always seem to understand what the opinion of the industry will be.  Hats off, though, since pushing the envelope is the only way this business will make any changes.
Click on the image below for a copy of the Craigslist ad:


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Tags: Real estate · Real estate blogging · Redfin

Voting, erudition, Bloggers Anonymous, and other random election-day stuff

November 7th, 2006 · 2 Comments


Having lived in some decidedly non-democratic (lower-case “d”) places, and having lived in other places where I was not a citizen, I’m always happy — and proud — to do my civic duty by voting. Nonetheless … Thank Goodness It’s Over.

Not only are we — finally! — done with all those negative campaign ads, but I’ve also just freed up 3 hours of my evening, time which I spent last night studying the 17 (!) state and local ballot initiatives and the positions of the candidates for ~20 elected offices. It was an arduous task made more difficult by the fact that Cameron Swann lives in Arizona, not California, so I could not rely on his voting guide. (As a side note, erudition and Libertarianism both seem to run in the Swann family genes!)

Following my civic duty, I drove up to San Francisco to join Pat Kitano and Mike Simonsen for the inaugural West Coast meeting of Real Estate Bloggers Anonymous. Our addictions have proven lucrative, however, since our blogs apparently have a combined market value of $53,066.76. I wonder if that will be enough to cover the rehab?


is worth $11,855.34.


is worth $14,678.04.

Altos Research

is worth $26,533.38.

If that’s not enough money, maybe we can hit up Greg Swann for a loan — his blog clocks in at over $110,000! (And it probably just went up by $20 because of this post.)

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Tags: Bloggers Anonymous · Real estate · Real estate blogging

Help! I’ve been hijacked…

October 22nd, 2006 · 2 Comments

There are some clever rascals out there… I recently moved my blog from Blogger to a Wordpress platform.  Alas, my previous address has been hijacked!  When you go there (http://kevinboer.blogspot.com) you get this:


How did that happen?  Quite simple.  After I moved my blog (which involved, among other painful things, copying my old posts over) I noticed that my new blog (this one) seemed to have been consigned to the Google sandbox and wasn’t being let out.  Thinking it might be a “duplicate content issue” — ie. Google thought my new blog was just a copy of my old one — I completely deleted my old blog.

Sure enough, within 24 hours my new blog came to life on Google.

However, I didn’t go back to Blogger to re-register my old blog name, and somebody — the clever rascals above — beat me to it.

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Tags: Blogging · Real estate

Need my fix…Rain City, where are you?

September 27th, 2006 · 2 Comments

One last post before I go back to my vacation…I promise. Getting my fix this morning… Bloodhound — Check

Sellsius — Check

Ardell – Check

The unknown blogger — Check

TransparentRE — Check

The numbers guys –Check

Seattle Rain City Guide — Uh oh!!!

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Tags: Real estate