What Makes a Senior a “Senior”?

retirement (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

This weekend we celebrated the 50th birthday of my husband and business partner, Mr. Greg Jones (written tongue-in-cheek). Over the last few months as he approached 50, it seemed that he was focusing more on his health and retirement discussions than ever before. I must admit, it annoyed me. I’m nowhere near retirement age and the thought of retiring bores me … to near death!
Maybe I was annoyed for other reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that I am not yet of retirement age. For example, my first husband of 14+ years (still a dear friend) retired back in 2006 in his early 50s. He still had so much to offer the world and yet chose to spend his time on “retirement” activities AKA “enjoying life”. What??? (We ran a business together too so maybe working with me exhausted the poor guy.)
Luckily, Greg and I just took over our small real estate office brokerage last summer and retirement is nowhere on the horizon for us. Plus, as newlyweds of almost two years, we’re planning on starting new endeavors with each other still, such as his 50th birthday gift of the go-ahead to get a puppy. (Don’t all little boys want puppies?)
Going back to the subject line. Every single day we run into vibrant, active people who are in their 50s, 60s, even folks in their 70s.
“Why on earth would they want to retire?”, I often think to myself. They are incredible mentors, contributors to society, role models. Many of them say that nobody wants to hire them because of their age. That upsets me too, because I know there is still so much they have to offer!
So I say to you this: “The real estate business is a great business to get into.” It’s fun, it’s flexible, it’s rewarding. It is certainly NOT intended to be a retirement job but is indeed a serious business. Folks who have a lot to offer still find this business to be a perfect fit. The average age of a REALTOR is in the mid-50s even though the average age of today’s homebuyer is around 30 years old. We can all continue to learn from each other…

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Pre-Approval or Pre-Qualification. What’s the Difference?

The housing market is warming up in many areas, with multiple offers becoming more commonplace.  Buyers who want an advantage in the bidding process will need more than a mortgage prequalification – they will need a preapproval.
The differences between mortgage pre-qualification and pre-approval are significant. Pre-qualifying for a mortgage is based solely on what a borrower discloses to the loan officer or broker about his/her earnings, credit score, and total assets, including what is available for a down payment. By contrast, a pre-approval requires a borrower to provide documentation of his/her income and assets.
The lender typically pulls the borrower’s credit report and score, while the borrower gathers together almost everything else needed for the actual mortgage underwriting: W-2 wage statements; 1099s; recent pay stubs; bank statements; and statements from Individual Retirement Accounts and 401(k)s; and other assets that could show the borrower has the resources to buy and maintain a home.
At one of the country’s largest mortgage lenders, Wells Fargo, the first quick review provided by an underwriter constitutes an agreement to lend.  Other lenders may treat preapprovals as more of an opinion on the person’s ability to borrow, not a guarantee to lend.
With so many homes receiving multiple offers, a preapproval is more important in today’s marketplace.  The preapproval letter should include the amount a borrower is qualified to borrow, as well as the loan officer’s contact information.  Some letters may have an estimated monthly payment, but details about the loan time and interest rate are not included.
Timing also is important.  Buyers should aim for obtaining a preapproval letter from a lender within 30 to 60 days of the expected purchase date.  That is because some letters expire in 90 days.
We have our favorite lenders (including Ken Malamud of PNC Mortgage at kenneth.malamud@pncmortgage.com) who are on-hand to assist with pre-approvals. Before we ever show even one property to our committed buyer clients, we make sure to be armed with a full pre-approval letter which includes DU (direct underwriter) findings.
Since we also have a role as sellers’ agents, we also know what to look for in a buyer’s offer package. We always make it a point as a courtesy to buyers’ agents to let them know what they can do to strengthen their offers and our recommendations often include a request for the buyers’ DU approval. Our sellers love this too because it allows them an opportunity to know mlre in-depth that they buyers they’re committed to selling ther home to has a stellar chance of actually closing the purchase…

“I Don’t Know”

In an effort to be proactive for our buyer clients, we often reach out to property owners who don’t yet have their homes on the market. Once in a while there’ll be a home available soon that already has a real estate for sale sign in front of it and we contact the seller’s agent to find out more about the properties. Today I made an interesting phone call. Here’s how it went:
Me: “How much will it be listed for?”
Listing Agent: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Can you give me a range?”
Listing Agent: “I don’t rememebr what was my BPO.”
Me: “When will it be available?”
Listing Agent: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Can you give me a general idea?”
Listing Agent: “Maybe sometime this week.”
Oh, this is going to be fun…

Our Current Buyer and Seller Clients

We take representation of our Seller and Buyer Clients very seriously. We work with only the most qualified buyers and sellers who are committed to working with us. In return, our Buyer Clients get our full attention and are assured that we’re focused on them and not willy-nilly grasping at getting more business that dilutes our efforts to serve them.
While many of our clients are already in contract, there are still some who need extra attention. Here is our latest postcard promoting our available listings and buyer clients who are not currently in contract yet. For them, the search continues!
As for our seller clients, we anticipate getting their properties in contract soon enough. We’ve sent out real estate e-newsletters (sign up here!) as well as postcards in addition to personal networking with other REALTOR professionals. We have a great reputation with other agents and are known to help them by suggesting what they can do to make their clients’ offers stronger. This also in turn helps our seller clients have the strongest offers to choose from, especially in this multiple-offer crazy real estate market…

Properties In a Trust: Why?

"He Said, She Said"

If anything happens to one of us, we’ll need a way to have our home “disposed of” if that is the choice of whichever one of us is still alive.
Says Trust Attorney Robert “Bob” Sakai, “If you get to a point where you can’t handle your financial affairs, will you need to sell your property to pay your bills?  If you have your property in a trust, your trustee, someone you picked because you can rely on them, will be able to sell your property and pay your
bills without having to go to court.”
Most of our business recently has been property held in trusts. Although the beneficiaries may be numerous, all that’s need is a specific person or persons to act on behalf of the trust and all the beneficiaries.
She Said:  “While I don’t plan on leaving this world any time soon, if anything happens to me, I’d like for my husband to have free reign over our real estate without needing my signature or consent should I be incapacitated for any reason.”
He Said:  “Well, thank you very much!  We have several trusted trust attorneys (no pun intended!) we can refer folks to if the need should arise.”
Do YOU have your properties in a trust?

Two Cherryland Blossoms

This lovely home with gleaming hardwood floors will be available this weekend! Located at 897 Blossom Way in Hayward’s historic Cherryland this 1700+ sq ft home is on a 9000 sq ft lot with fruit trees, reminiscent of the days when the entire area was covered with cherry orchards.
Also available right across the street: 904 Blossom Way

4th of July at the Seniors’ Neighborhood

"He Said, She Said"

As has been tradition for the past couple of summers, Anna and I help out with the 4th of July BBQ at Hayward Mobile Country Club.  I spend a couple of hours grilling hamburgers and hot dogs with my buddy Wayne and Anna works on serving up the various dishes that accompany the main course.  Mary and Elaine, our dear friends are the real reason we go help out, along with getting to meet the many, many wonderful people that reside there.
I realized that in a five short years, I will be eligible to move in to such a “senior” park.  As Wayne and I drove around the place in his golf cart, delivering the grill and other items back to Mary’s place, I thought to myself “I could live here!”.  Folks take pride in their places, people sit on their front porches and actually wave at each other, and neighbors pitch in to help each other out…sounds great, doesn’t it?
She Said: “Come on, be honest. You just loved that the ladies paid so much attention to you — you and Wayne both!”
He Said:  “Who doesn’t like a little attention?  As I recall it, the gentlemen in the room were commenting on the “dish serving up the dishes”, speaking of you of course.