This Meyers 2-bedroom, 2-bath home is perfect if you are looking for an island of privacy: surrounded by a mixture of unbuildable public and private land, there is not a neighbor to be seen from the redwood deck in the backyard, only a peek of the mountains and mature aspens and willows along the seasonal creek. You enter to open plan living with a gorgeous kitchen, new in 2014, with locally-made alder cabinets, stainless appliances, and granite slab countertops. The two bedrooms are both large, the master with an en suite bath; the other bedroom, currently used as an office, would have been split to two small rooms in many houses this size but here remains a single, very large room. A classic woodstove will keep you warm in winter. Between the one-car garage with bonus space and the 10×10 shed in the yard, you’ll have plenty of storage. This is a very livable house in a flat, sunny area that anyone would be proud to call home. All this for $396,000.
This ultra custom home was designed and constructed by a local artistic builder as his personal residence and showroom. The designer materials and custom finish only add to the quality of this lake view home backing to 311 acres of public land. Upon arrival you are greeted by the Aspen Hollow designed landscaping that surrounds the entire property. The first floor offers a private guest suite and game room. The game room contains a media closet wired throughout the entire property. A seven foot hot tub with amazing views is just steps from the back door. A one of a kind stairway lead you to the living room with its impressive floor to ceiling natural quartzite gas fireplace with a juniper mantle surrounded by built in cherry cabinets. The impeccable quality finish continues into the kitchen with cherry lower and alder upper cabinets, stainless Jenn-Air appliances, and Bellagio granite countertops and backsplashes. No detail has been spared here- true Tahoe Elegance. All this for only $875,000.
July 15th, 2011 was another big day for anyone in financial distress on their primary residence in California. Along with Senate Bill 931, signed in January, which prohibits a deficiency judgment against a homeowner after an approved short sale on their first mortgage, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 458, which prohibits a deficiency after a short sale for one-to-four residential units, regardless of whether the lender is a senior or junior lien-holder. In short if you have an approved short sale on the first mortgage the lien holder cannot pursue you for any difference between the short sale price and that loan balance. The same goes for the second mortgage. This is for any short sale closing after July 15th 2011.
A smaller percentage of mortgages were delinquent and the rate of those entering the foreclosure process slowed in the fourth quarter of 2009, possible signs that the foreclosure crisis that has gripped many of the nation’s housing markets is finally starting to ease, a trade group has reported.
“We are likely seeing the beginning of the end of the unprecedented wave of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures that started with the subprime defaults in early 2007,” said Jay Brinkmann, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association, in a written statement.
The delinquency rate for mortgages on one- to four-unit residential properties was a seasonally adjusted 9.47% of all mortgages outstanding in the fourth quarter, down from 9.64% in the third quarter and up from 7.88% in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the MBA’s quarterly delinquency survey.
Delinquencies include mortgages that are at least one payment or more past due but not yet in foreclosure.
Meanwhile, 1.2% of outstanding mortgages entered the foreclosure process in the fourth quarter, down from 1.42% in the third quarter and up from 1.08% in the fourth quarter of 2008. The percentage of mortgages at some point in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter was 4.58%, up from 4.47% in the third quarter and 3.3% in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The MBA survey covers about 44.4 million loans on one- to four-unit residential properties, or about 85% of all first-lien residential mortgage loans that are outstanding in the country. No doubt, the foreclosure nightmare isn’t over yet.
The percentages of loans 90 days or more past due and loans in foreclosure process set record highs in the fourth quarter, according to the report. Many of those loans more than 90 days past due are in loan modification programs, and some of them have been seriously delinquent for months waiting for modifications to get finalized.
But the good news is there are fewer problem loans actually entering delinquency—likely a result of fewer layoffs, Brinkmann said. “We normally see a large spike in short-term mortgage delinquencies at the end of the year due to heating bills, Christmas expenditures and other seasonal factors. Not only did we not see that spike but the 30-day delinquencies actually fell by 16 basis points from 3.79% to 3.63%,” he said. He added that the non-seasonally adjusted 30-day delinquency rate has only dropped three times in the past between the third and fourth quarter—”and never by this magnitude.”
Depending on the fate of seriously delinquent mortgages—whether they are cured with modifications or ultimately enter foreclosure—the percentage of mortgages somewhere in the foreclosure process could start to see a gradual decline in the second half of the year, he said during a conference call with reporters.
If normal seasonal patterns hold, there could be a bigger drop in the 30-day delinquency rate in the first quarter of 2010, Brinkmann said. That would be a positive sign for the months and years ahead. “The continued and sizable drop in the 30-day delinquency rate is a concrete sign that the end may be in sight,” he said. “With fewer new loans going bad, the pool of seriously delinquent loans and foreclosures will eventually begin to shrink once the rate at which these problems are resolved exceeds the rate at which new problems come in. “It also gives us growing confidence that the size of the problem now is about as bad as it will get,” he said.
According to the MBA data, Florida was the most problematic state, in terms of delinquencies. Twenty-six percent of Florida mortgages were one payment or more past due at the end of the year, and 20.4% of mortgages in the state were 90 days or more past due or already in the foreclosure process.
Studies have shown that may times putting money into the outside of your home produces a greater return than investing inside.
The following popular outside improvement projects will increase the curb appeal or value of a home:
Adirondack chairs—Uniquely-American classic outdoor furniture is made entirely of wood and has a straight back and seat, which are set at a slant to sit comfortably on a hillside or mountain incline, but still be comfortable at any angle.
Gazebo—A gazebo can be freestanding or attached to a garden wall, roofed and open on all sizes to provide shade or shelter.
Planters and window boxes—Planters have become popular because they are both functional and ornamental. Additionally, some can be moved frequently to account for seasonal weather or just to create a change in scenery.
Picnic table—Picnic tables go well on a patio or a deck, but equally as well on the grass or under a tree in the yard. A traditional picnic table is all in one piece so that it wears well without a lot of maintenance.
Trellis—A trellis can function as a unique sun screen or it can be the framework for an outdoor hanging garden. Building it with pressure treated lumber can add life by minimizing rotting and other threats.
Trash can corral or compost bin—While many outdoor projects tend to be cosmetic in nature, here are two ideas that are both practical and pretty. With a trash can corral, you can hide unsightly trash cans and with a compost bin, you can reduce your own carbon footprint in a way that doesn’t take away from the visual appeal of the place.
Better Homes and Gardens recently revealed proprietary research and insights on what consumers are looking for in their next home and overall priorities guiding current and future home improvement projects.
In a speech at the NAHB International Builders Show, Eliot Nusbaum, Better Homes and Gardens Executive Editor Home Design, presented the results of the Next Home Survey along with reported trends from a nationwide network of field editors, the magazine’s Home Improvement Challenge and editorial coverage.
The survey of nationwide potential new home buyers and existing home owners who are planning improvements in the next few months found top priorities to include price, energy-efficiency, organization and comfort.
“Not surprisingly, we continue to see a ‘cents and sensibility’ approach when it comes to buying or improving a home, with practicality and price being top priorities,” said Nusbaum. “Today’s homeowner is also looking for a home that fits the entire family–from a multi-tasking home office, to expanding storage space needs, to a living room that can adapt to advancements in home entertainment and technology.”
Future Home Buyers
A Smaller and More Energy-Efficient Home
Continuing the “downsizing” trend, more consumers (36% in 2009; 32% in 2008) expect their next home to be “somewhat smaller” or “much smaller.”
A greener home will be a priority, with 87% planning to have high-efficiency heating/cooling in their next home and 86% planning to have high-efficiency appliances; 24.9% will have geo-thermal heat.
When asked how today’s housing market and economic turmoil have impacted priorities for their next home, 76% said energy-efficient heating and cooling systems will be “more important” and for 70%, Energy Star appliances will be “more important.”
Almost half (48%) say green building practices/materials will be “more important” when purchasing their next home.
An Organized, Multi-Tasking Home with No Wasted Space
The home office is a priority as 59% of consumers plan to have one in the home. Of those, only 28% want a separate dedicated home office space (compared to 64% in 2008), with one-third (33%) now wanting a more multi-purposed space, such as combined office/computer/hobby/craft/art room.
A well organized home is key, with 66% of respondents listing “no-space-wasted” design and 62% listing ample storage space as attributes that will take on more importance.
Also on the ‘wish list’ for the next home is: a separate laundry room (85%); an outdoor grilling and living area (68%); a kitchen with eating area (67%); and an extra bedroom with bath (65%).
America’s love affair with the large garage continues to flourish with 37% of consumers now wanting a 3-car or larger garage compared to 29% in 2008.
A Family-Friendly Home
Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers consider a comfortable family gathering space to be top priority in their next home.
Of lesser interest this year is a kitchen, family and everyday eating area combined in one space (49% vs 56% in 2008) replaced by significantly greater interest in a family room partially separated from the kitchen (42% vs 27% in 2008).
There is also an increased desire (51% vs 44% in 2008) for a wall-mounted flat screen TV in the main family living area and for networked computers/home entertainment center (48% vs 43% in 2008).
“With the economy still a major concern, right now it’s more about the ‘got to’ improvements than the ‘want to’ improvements,” said Nusbaum. “The focus is now on low-cost improvements that will pack a big punch.”
With only 16% feeling “now is the right time to spend” on home improvements vs 38% saying “now is not the right time to spend,” 52% are focusing their efforts on needed repairs and maintenance.
Three-quarters (76%) say the economy has had an impact on their home improvement plans, with half (50%) having changed their home improvement plans during the last year.
Smaller projects prove to be the most popular, such as painting a room (54%), replacing/adding flooring or carpeting (38%), decorating/redecorating a room (35%) and landscaping the yard (30%).
Energy-efficiency is also a focus of future home projects, with respondents placing importance on installation of Energy Star windows/doors (34%), high-efficiency heating/cooling (31%) and Energy Star appliances (31%).
Widespread teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and increased economic hardship for children are among the impacts California’s budget crisis and the recession have had on public schools and students, according to a report released Thursday.
Researchers at UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access interviewed 87 elementary, middle and high principals across California to gauge the impact of the recession and budget cuts on student welfare and school learning environments.
Before the recession began, California K-12 public schools, which were among the nation’s best in the 1960s, already ranked near the bottom nationally in many measures of academic achievement and school quality.
The economic downturn and state budget crisis has undermined recent academic gains and widened the disparity between schools in rich and poor communities, said John Rogers, the institute’s director.
“It’s taken California several steps backward on the road to improvement,” Rogers said. “It’s also harmed the long-term prospects for California to rebuild a quality education system.”
The report, called “Educational Opportunities in Hard Times,” found that:
— 62 percent of principals reported that teachers in their schools had been laid off, threatened with layoffs or reassigned to other schools. The number of actual layoffs was four times greater at schools in poorer communities than wealthier communities.
— 67 percent reported that class sizes had increased, with 74 percent of elementary school principals reporting larger class sizes.
— 75 percent reported that summer school had been reduced or eliminated.
— 75 percent reported reductions in instructional materials and supplies.
— 70 percent reported cuts to professional development programs.
— 67 percent reported growing housing insecurity, which includes homelessness, families moving in together and families moving away for economic reasons.
— 51 percent reported an increase in the health, psychological or social service needs of their students.
Many principals are seeing the impact on rising unemployment and poverty on their students as parents lose their jobs and homes, according to the report. About two-thirds said their schools have referred students and families to health and social service providers.
In an effort to stabilize home values and improve conditions in communities where foreclosure activity is high, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan recently announced a temporary policy that will expand access to FHA mortgage insurance and allow for the quick resale of foreclosed properties. The announcement is part of the Obama administration’s commitment to addressing foreclosure. Secretary Donovan recently announced $2 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants to local communities and nonprofit housing developers to combat the effects of vacant and abandoned homes.
“As a result of the tightened credit market, FHA-insured mortgage financing is often the only means of financing available to potential home buyers,” said Donovan. “FHA has an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill its mission by helping many home buyers find affordable housing while contributing to neighborhood stabilization.”
With certain exceptions, FHA currently prohibits insuring a mortgage on a home owned by the seller for less than 90 days. This temporary waiver will give FHA borrowers access to a broader array of recently foreclosed properties.
“This change in policy is temporary and will have very strict conditions and guidelines to assure that predatory practices are not allowed,” Donovan said.
In today’s market, FHA research finds that acquiring, rehabilitating and reselling these properties to prospective homeowners often takes less than 90 days. Prohibiting the use of FHA mortgage insurance for a subsequent resale within 90 days of acquisition adversely impacts the willingness of sellers to allow contracts from potential FHA buyers because they must consider holding costs and the risk of vandalism associated with allowing a property to sit vacant over a 90-day period of time.
The policy change will permit buyers to use FHA-insured financing to purchase HUD-owned properties, bank-owned properties, or properties resold through private sales. This will allow homes to resell as quickly as possible, helping to stabilize real estate prices and to revitalize neighborhoods and communities.
“FHA borrowers, because of the restrictions we are now lifting, have often been shut out from buying affordable properties,” said FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. “This action will enable our borrowers, especially first-time buyers, to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The waiver will take effect on February 1, 2010 and is effective for one year, unless otherwise extended or withdrawn by the FHA Commissioner. To protect FHA borrowers against predatory practices of “flipping,” where properties are quickly resold at inflated prices to unsuspecting borrowers, this waiver is limited to those sales meeting the following general conditions:
-All transactions must be arms-length, with no identity of interest between the buyer and seller or other parties participating in the sales transaction.
-In cases in which the sales price of the property is 20% or more above the seller’s acquisition cost, the waiver will only apply if the lender meets specific conditions.
-The waiver is limited to forward mortgages, and does not apply to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchase program.
For more information, visit www.hud.gov.
Do you have some—but not unlimited—cash for upgrades? Here are budget-minded enhancements to make your home stand out from the competition.
1. Tidy up kitchen cabinets.
“Potential buyers do open kitchen cabinets and look inside,” says Morrissey. “Home owners can add rollout organizing trays so when buyers peek in, they feel like there’s lots of room for their stuff.”
2. Add or replace tile.
“By retiling very inexpensively, you make a room look way cleaner that it was,” says Javier Zuluaga, owner of Home Repairs and Remodeling LLC in Tempe, Ariz. “Every city has stores that offer $1 to $2 tile, so home owners have to pay only for the low-cost tile and labor to replace a dated backsplash or add a new one. We also use inexpensive tile to upgrade bathrooms.”
3. Add a breakfast bar.
When a wall separates a kitchen from a family room, suggest cutting out an opening to create a breakfast bar. “In one home, there was a cutout in the wall between the kitchen and living room,” explains Matthew Quinn, a sales associate at Quinn’s Realty & Estate Services in Falls Church, Va., who handles estate and real estate sales for family members whose loved ones have passed away. “We left the structure of the cutout, added an oversized granite breakfast bar, and put chairs in front of it. That cost about $600.”
4. Install granite tile instead of a slab.
“Everybody is hot for granite kitchen countertops, but that can be a $5,000 upgrade,” says John Wilder, a general contractor and owner of Fence and Deck Doctor in New Castle, Ind. “Instead, home owners can put in 12-inch granite tiles for about $300 in materials and get very high impact for little money.”
5. Freshen up a bathroom without retiling.
“With a dated bathroom, I recommend putting in a new medicine cabinet for $100 to $150, light fixtures for about $100, a faucet for $50 to $75, and a vanity for $200 to $300,” says Wilder. “And instead of replacing the tile, the existing grout can be lightly scraped and regrouted, which leaves a haze that can be buffed out and will make the tile look brand new. Also install glass shower doors. A French door adds a lot of panache and elegance for $250, and people will notice the door, not the tile. With all that, you’ve done a bathroom remodel for $1,000 to $2,000.”
6. Freshen up the basement.
“If home owners have cement block or poured concrete walls in the basement, suggest they have a contractor fill in cracks with hydraulic cement and then paint with waterproofing paint,” recommends Wilder. “They can then add a top coat to add color. They can also paint the basement floor with a good floor paint, which spiffs it up. The basement may not be finished, but it’s no longer a damp dungeon.”
7. Add a room.
Look for large spaces that can be enclosed to create a new bedroom for just the price of creating a wall. “One time, we closed off a half-wall to an office and added a door to the other side of the room, thus creating another bedroom,” says Quinn. “That $400 procedure, which took a contractor one day, netted about $40,000 in the sales price.” Zuluaga has also added bedrooms inexpensively. “In a two-bedroom house, there was an archway that led to a third room that was used as a den,” he explains. “It had a dry bar where there would have been a closet, so we took out the dry bar and created a closet so the owners had a third bedroom.”
8. Spruce up cabinet fronts.
Suggest home owners update tired-looking kitchen cabinets. Reconditioning is the least expensive move for under $1,000. “If the wood is starting to look shabby from use or contaminants in the air, we take out the nicks and scratches, recondition it with oil, and put new hardware on,” explains Heidi Morrissey, vice president of marketing and sales at Kitchen Tune-Up in Aberdeen, S.D. For $1,500 to $4,000, owners can replace the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and for $4,000 to $12,000, they can have all the cabinets refaced. “With refacing, owners can change the color of the cabinets by replacing the door and having a new skin put on the boxes,” says Morrissey. “If they have oak cabinets today, they can have cherry the next day.”
9. Replace light fixtures.
“In a foyer and in bathrooms and kitchens,” says Wilder, “replacing overhead light fixtures provides a lot of pop for a little money.” If the kitchen has track lighting, Zuluaga suggests the home owner spend $450 to $600 to have an electrician replace it with recessed canned lights on a dimmer switch to add ambience. For about $700, Zuluaga also suggests installing pendant lights over a kitchen island or peninsula.
10. Tech-up the garage.
“Sometimes we replace the garage door opener with a remote touchpad entry system,” says Zuluaga. “That costs about $425 and makes it look like a high-end system.”
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The California State Building Standards Commission voted Tuesday unanimously b to adopt the 2010 California Residential Code, which includes the 2009 International Residential Code as established by the International Code Council in September 2008. The residential sprinkler requirement was voted into the 2009 IRC Code by building code officials from all over the United States, gaining more than two-thirds of the vote.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 3320 people perished in fires in 2008 throughout the United States. According to the NFPA, there has never been a documented fire death in a fully operational sprinklered residence with working smoke detectors.
“It is a tragedy for our nation to have those kinds of preventable fire death losses,” said
Lake Valley Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Michael.
For more information about the new building standards codes coming in 2011, contact the Lake Valley Fire Protection District, Fire Prevention Bureau at 530-577-3737.