VA Loans and Why Our Buyers Love Them

Says our recent buyer/seller client LeRoy Francis:
Why go for a VA loan? LeRoy: It gave us the best interest rate. Plus, we heard thru fellow vets it was an easy process. It was very smooth for us. The hardest thing was dealing with the seller.

Why? LeRoy: It was their view of how strict the VA was — but at the end they were satisfied!
LeRoy Francis (US Navy, 1970’s)
Honoring our Servicemen & Servicewomen With VA Loan Opportunities
Often forgotten fact: VA Loans can be re-used!
At the risk of sounding “sales-ey”, we wanted to inform our readers of a great American benefit of serving in the United States Armed Forces: The VA Loan!
VA mortgage financing is still one of the best benefits that our servicemen and servicewomen have. According to Loan Advisor Russ Barto, here are the highlights:
  • ZERO down payment
  • liberal qualifying ratios (up to 50% debt to income)
  • acceptable lower credit scores (down to 620)
  • sellers can pay all closing costs.

Don’t forget the VETS! Please pass this message along to someone you appreciate who has served in our great United States Armed Forces!
Said our VA Buyer Client Heather Reyes, 2-time VA Buyer:
First time, 1997, no out of pocket at all, not even out of pocket for closing costs
Second Time, 2009: What stood out this time around was that although there was no down payment requirement, there were closing costs.
Why VA: Heather pursued the VA loan because it was (potentially) less money out of pocket and easier to qualify.

VA Eligibility Redux!

Many, many years ago, when I was just starting my civilian life, I was fortunate enough to avail myself of a VA Loan.  Having served in the Air Force for a few years, it was time to settle down into my first REAL house.  Purchasing a home in a new development, the sales office was very helpful in assisting in getting all the necessary paperwork together for the zero down payment loan.  At the time, this was the ONLY loan product that provided a zero down home purchase financing.  It would only be in the later 1990’s that no down payment loans would become available to most anyone.  Fast forward to now, and once again, getting a zero down loan is a thing of the past…except for those who have the benefit of a VA Loan.
Little known fact:  Did you know that even if you have used a VA Loan previously, you may still have zero down VA Loan eligibility?  Check it out!  If your previous VA Loan was paid off by a new buyer at the time of sale, your eligibility may still be intact!  We have a few folks we can refer you to that can help you find out about your eligibility, and maybe, just maybe you’ll be one of the few who can still get a zero down payment loan to buy that new house.  Of course, we are ready to help you find that house once you are pre-approved for a loan.  We look forward to working with veterans!


I will be moderating a Panel of Fire Chiefs for the June Women’s Council of REALTORS, Tri Cities Chapter monthly meeting.  Find out what fire departments and real estate have in common and grab lunch while you are at it!  When is that last time you had the opportunity to meet with three fire chiefs?  The fire chiefs from Fremont, Hayward and Alameda County will talk about various topics on Wedenesday, June 15, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Newark Hilton, 39900 Balentine Drive, Newark.  $20 for WCR members, $28 for non-members.  Call Russ Barto at 510-304-8834 to reserve a spot, or go to to register.  These events are usually sold out, so register early!

Change That Will!

Several years ago when I was experiencing some dark lonely days, I put together a will and bought a cemetery plot. (Yes, I do own land!)
That same will is now sitting on my desk at home as a reminder to revise it since I got re-married last year. My husband (Greg) and I have been walking by that desk every day for the last few weeks. He’s patient with me. He knows I’ll get it done. In fact, when we put aside some time soon, we’ll both work on the revision together.
When I put together that will years ago, I was still legally married to my still-good-friend and former husband Francis Luke, with whom I co-owned the Rickshaw Express restaurants and other Rickshaws around the bay area for many years. Francis is still listed in the will as being the beneficiary of everything. In the will, it says that even after our then-marriage is dissolved, it was my wish that he remain the beneficiary of everything save for a few thousand dollars for my brother and sister.
However, a lot has changed in the last few years:

  • My sister has since given me two beautiful little nieces. Pressley (the Happy Baby) is 18 months old and Gia (the Moody Baby AKA “Gia Pet”) is 3 years old.
  • I got re-married to Greg, a wonderful man who’s given me more than just his heart.
  • Francis is now Greg’s friend too. (Side note: When I first told Francis that Greg and I started working together, his response was “poor, poor Greg!”)

I better not get hit by a bus any time soon!

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How To Determine a List Price

We are in the midst of an interesting dilemma with pricing several properties for sale.

  1. A house that’s JUST on the cusp of being a short sale
  2. A property that is not a short sale but is stuck COMPETING with short sales
  3. A luxury home that is unique, rare and in a neighborhood where it appears that a “fire-sale” has taken place around the corner, lowering the average price per square foot

How do we deal with pricing?
For the potential short sale: Just price it right, based on what’s happening in the neighborhood with similar homes. Remember, the seller’s lender still has to approve the short sale amount before a buyer can purchase the property. There are programs available to qualified sellers that will give them money ($3000) for relocation assistance, such as HAFA.
For the property with equity competing with short sales: Just price it right, based on what’s happening in the neighborhood of similar homes. It’s important to be careful not to have a downward spiral of competing price reductions against those short sale sellers. Example: You lower your price, they lower theirs, then you lower yours again, then they lower theirs again…STOP the madness before it even starts!
Sometimes it’s better to stand firm on (the reasonable) list price and be willing to budge when an offer comes in. Short sale sellers often have nothing to lose since they have no equity anyway. Representing a seller who has equity takes a certain level of care…
For the unique luxury home: Just price it right. There’s nothing in the world like this home. In the absence of enough suitable properties to compare, we make sure a formal appraisal is conducted for this type of luxury estate to determine an objective third-party basis for a List Price. Many luxury sellers do not have to sell their homes. They can sit tight and wait for the right buyer to come along.
The one common denominator for determining a List Price for the three scenarios above:

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Multi-Generational Purchase

Grandma provides the down payment.
Dad co-signs.
Kid picks the house.
Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone? This week we met with all the above to make sure we’re on the same page before we start the search process. Before we met, I spoke with Grandma first to learn more about the grandson she referred to us and then I spoke with the grandson and then I spoke with Grandma again to make sure she knew we spoke with the grandson. (Now breathe!)
Based on information we got from Grandma and The Kid, we arranged for an appropriate lender to be present. The lender needed his own set of paperwork from The Kid and his co-signer Dad.
As the agents for the Buyer(s), we also require our own set of paperwork which includes a copy of the driver’s license of the co-borrowers (Dad and The Kid), Agency Disclosure, a Buyer Broker Representation Agreement, letter from Grandma stating that she would provide funds for the down payment, and also proof of those funds in the form of a bank statement attached to said letter.
We’re almost ready to search for a home! All we’re waiting for now is the pre-approval letter from the lender so that we know how much they can comfortably afford to purchase. The pre-approval process must be complete before we take the next steps. This requires the buyers to provide the lender with their tax returns, pay-stubs, bank statements, credit checks, employment/income verification, etc.
When all this is done, we as the agents will consider it a formal, complete pre-approval. This is all important, since we take our work very seriously and will make sure our clients are fully prepared before we show them properties.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Grandma calls the shots!

Division of Labor

We’ve been melding our talents together to figure out what we should each be doing at work and at home. It has now been about 8 months working together in this capacity, a far cry away from when we worked together at the City. There, he would say things like “I don’t disagree with you” just to shut me up when I would complain incessantly about things I thought were moronic.
We make a great team, especially when he lets me have my way!
At home:

  • He’s not allowed to do the laundry. It’s his responsibility to let me know when he’s running out of clean underpants or t-shirts so I can do my womanly laundry duty. Plus, the last time he did laundry, the dryer was left running for 24 hours – hardly what our insurance company would appreciate knowing.
  • Whoever sleeps in is stuck making the bed. THIS is a fun scene, especially since neither of us are morning people. I can almost anticipate when he’s about to lunge out of bed so he won’t be stuck making it.
  • He cooks; I microwave.

At work:

  • I’m fine with him dealing with the more chauvinistic members of our clientele. Also the smokers. (That would include my own mother.) It’s also fun watching him take care of the little old ladies who think he’s the cat’s meow. It’s fun watching him in action with the younger ladies too. He’s so darn charming I want to just stomp my feet like a child until he pays attention to me again!
  • He’s in charge of the “big picture”, I’m in charge of “details”. (This is especially interesting when I start picking on him about little things.)

Watching my husband go from being boringly and steadily employed to self-employed has been amazingly fun! He was so accustomed to having everything done for him.
He Said: “That’s not fair. Mean!” (pout)