Your Life is Hectic, Our Life is Real Estate

FineHomeMoves - harnessing the power of the internet

Work, School, Schedules, Projects….  Life in Silicon Valley is fast paced and a little crazy at times.  Adding a house move to the mix can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. We’re lifestyle designers, we help busy people reconnect with their families, engage in their community and achieve their financial goals by investing […]

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Factors of Credit Scoring

Wondering how your credit score is calculated? There are several different factors that contribute to your overall score. Follow the link below to learn how your score is calculated and the best ways to earn a high score. The Five Factors of Credit Scoring      

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Intero Prestigio: Silicon Valley Luxury Homes

Recently listed as the 6th most expensive place to buy property in the USA, you can imagine that Los Gatos has plenty of luxury properties to offer those looking for that little bit more. At Slater Thomson we will work with you to discover your ideal Bay Area luxury home.  By choosing us you can rest assured […]

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Free Neighborhood Shredding Party – Saturday, November 16th

Please join us for a free neighborhood shredding party tomorrow at the Intero Los Gatos office – we’ll be in the back parking lot with food and drinks!  More details below, and feel free to give us call us with any questions 408-357-5720.

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Considering a Relocation to Silicon Valley? Decision Making Tips

Are you tempted by the lifestyle and the seemingly endless job opportunities in and around Silicon Valley? How do you decide if a move to the Bay Area is right for you? Before you even start talking salary, benefits and move logistics, make sure you do your homework and do a little pre-relocation decision analysis. […]

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Smoke Alarms: Every Home Should Have One (or Two, or Three…)

Today I had the unwelcome honor of watching a neighbor’s house burn down.  Thankfully a couple of brave souls working close by entered the burning house and woke the owner allowing him to escape without harm.  What if they hadn’t been there?  I couldn’t hear any smoke alarms screeching which, given the owners have lived […]

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U.S. home prices rise in October by most in 6 years

The end of the summer buying season shows a traditional slowdown in the market but doesn’t detract from the fact that U.S. home prices have risen in October by the most in 6 years. Record low mortgage rates, rising rents and renewed confidence boosted demand in the once battered housing market.  At the same time, the […]

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It’s Deja Vu all over again

by Gail Thomson on May 3, 2012

in Blog,Buyers,Sellers

I feel like I should be watching reruns of Lost – Season 1 and listening to Boulevard of Broken Dreams on my playlist (except I didn’t have a playlist back then). It’s like 2005 all over again, with buyers bidding 10 and even 20 percent over asking, zero contingencies and multi-million dollar cash offers all over the place.

Do we have a county wide state of amnesia? Does anyone remember 2006, 2007 or even last month? You know, a time when the buyer was paying a price that the market could easily support because they already had comps to prove it, not one they hoped would just get them the house and they’d worry about paying for it later.

Appraisals in rising marketsBuyers and sellers are inclined to act emotionally where their home is involved. I’ve always held the belief that the agents, lenders and appraisers are the necessary voice of reason, keeping offers in check and making sure buyers are truly “qualified”. How does that play out in today’s world of high demand and low supply, particularly when it comes to appraisals? How does an appraiser bring in a value when all the recent comps have closed significantly lower but there were 5 offers over asking within the first week? Perhaps the question really is SHOULD an appraiser be able to bring in a significantly higher value in that situation? Let me be clear, I think a 2 or 3 % increase is easily justifiable, I’m talking about 10 and 20 % increases here.

According to one appraiser I talked to they use the simple fact that so many people ARE bidding over asking for the property as an indicator of where the market is. Hmm, how do lenders feel about that? After all, buyers are emotional and in my opinion it’s easier to over-bid for a property when you’re in competition, there’s nothing else out there and it’s only another $100 per month on your mortgage payment in order to get into a home now.

If we’re to avoid another crisis like the last one wouldn’t it be more prudent for the appraisers to have some stricter guidelines about how much a “changing market” can affect the appraisal value? If the appraisal comes in at a lower value based on recent sales then a buyer is more than welcome to bring in their own cash to close the deal. If they are neither able nor willing to do that then perhaps they’re not REALLY qualified to buy this house or the supportable market value (as opposed to the anticipated market value) hasn’t quite got there yet. Either way, appraising a house at a value way higher simply because there’s no inventory competing with the house “at this precise time” seems to me to be a sure sign of history repeating itself.

What do you think?

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Locking in Peace of Mind

by Gail Thomson on April 13, 2012

in Blog,Buyers

With historically low loan rates starting to inch up borrowers should consider rate lock agreements in their home purchase and refinance activities. Locking in an interest rate freezes the terms of the loan while it’s being processed; particularly important if an increase in rates would impact your ability to qualify and/or pay for the loan.

Lenders will typically offer a rate lock agreement to borrowers with an existing purchase agreement. Most will offer a free lock for 30 days, others will charge points on the loan, occasionally refundable at close. You may also be able to lock for 45 or 60 days, but again, the lender will likely charge for this.

If you are unsure when your home purchase will close you may want to delay locking. Knowing when and how long to lock in a rate requires a clear picture of the loan process and a good estimate from your lender on how long it will take to approve your loan and complete all associated paperwork.

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Wednesday Wow Factor on Thursday (the beach is a bit flaky for wi-fi as it turns out). No “pause for a minute” moments on tour yesterday so instead I’m showing you our recently completed garage remodel.

When we bought our million dollar tear down (Silicon Valley at its finest!) the garage was a haven for critters and a treasure trove of interesting sketches, diagrams and strange looking mechanical inventions from the 60s. Oh, and then there was the boat, which we donated to a college project.

We finally made it to the garage end of the honey-do list and hired our contractor, Chris, to take it from trash to treasure. He stripped out the years of grime and dust, finished the inside, painted the walls and floor and added new lights.

The real game changer, however, is the new glass garage doors we opted to put in. We have a large one on the front and a second smaller one on the back. Both are mounted with a side-opener which keeps the ceiling less cluttered looking. They are AWESOME in my humble opinion. We now have a clean and bright garage OR a fully finished rec-room for the kids, depending on how we want to use it. Actually we’ll probably use it primarily for our staging furniture but no reason we can’t use that furniture while we’re storing it ;)

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I set out this morning to see how my home town of Los Gatos was faring in the property market compared to the rest of the Bay Area.  I started, as I often do, by running some basic calculations on median list price and median price per square foot to see where we are compared to the peak of late 2006 thru 2007.

As the graphs indicate, Los Gatos overall is currently standing at about 16% below it’s peak.  Prices here have rebounded a little but when you look at the data, they actually didn’t fall that much either (Note: theses are averages and medians, your mileage may vary!).    For homeowners no decline in value is ideal of course, but it’s certainly not the bloodbath other areas have experienced.

As if reading my mind, the Mercury News ran an article this morning reflecting similar stories across the Bay Area.  Affluent areas fell 10-20%, less affluent areas 50-60%.  Affluent areas are rebounding faster (some even back to peak levels), less affluent areas are still engaged in REO and short sale trench warfare.

Los Gatos market activity patterns often trail a few weeks behind some of the cities further up the peninsula.  According to my colleagues there, Palo Alto, Mountain View etc are experiencing multiple offers and rising prices.  It will be interesting to see what happens here in the next few weeks.

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160 Robin Way, Los Gatos, CA 95032

by Gail Thomson on July 7, 2011

in Uncategorized

A Los Gatos Ranch Home with a difference.   Bold updates and innovative remodeling take this home from Nice to Wow! With acclaimed Los Gatos schools and located in a peaceful and popular neighborhood this home has a lot to offer.

Call for more information or to view.

[idx-listing mlsnumber="81129370" showall="true"]

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140 Cleland Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030

by Gail Thomson on July 7, 2011

in Uncategorized

Located in the heart of Los Gatos, this newly custom built Victorian Farmhouse was designed by renowned architect Chris Spaulding and built with quality Craftsmanship by B&C Homes.

With excellent Los Gatos Schools and a short walk to the beautiful Los Gatos downtown, at its current list price this home really is amazing value.

[idx-listing mlsnumber="81121016" showall="true"]

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Wednesday is real estate broker tour day in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell and Cambrian.  Every week we get to see newly listed homes big and small, new and old, quirky and elegant.   Inevitably I see something that makes  me stop, ponder and exclaim  ”Now that’s a clever idea” or “Oh, this will sell the house!”

Today’s moment came at the new listing at 160 Robin Way , tucked in behind the Marchmont/Englewood neighborhood between Kennedy and Shannon.  This nicely updated ranch home with a modern twist held a couple of surprises.

From a visual perspective the rich brick red commercial doors and windows were a daring choice but it works and they add a modernized Japanese shoji feel.  The bi-sliding doors are a functional plus.  Now why didn’t I think of that?

The real “eureka!” moment came when I walked into what should have been a small master bathroom.  Rather than doing a major addition to add space to this small area, the owners added only a walk-in shower stall addition with glass brick, adding both space and light at minimal cost.  This could work in any home in need of a slightly bigger bathroom without overly impacting the yard space or encroaching on setbacks.

If you want to see this home for yourself, give me a call, I’d be happy to take another look :)

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Real Estate prices are down, interest rates are at record lows, you’ve found your perfect Silicon Valley Dream Home but you still have 1 hurdle to cross;  Financing

Don’t sit on the sidelines assuming you can’t buy because you can’t get a loan.   Here are 5 things the lenders are looking for in order to approve that home loan.

1. The Down Payment.  While 20% down is preferable, don’t count yourself out if you don’t have it.  You can still finance up 95% conventionally and up to 96.5% through FHA loans.  There will be additional cost associated in the form of mortgage insurance but this may still end up being financially better than continuing to rent or stay in your current home.

2. Job History.  Banks want to know that you have the ability to remain in the home and make the payments.  Job History will be vetted carefully looking for career changes and earnings continuity.  Short periods of unemployment shouldn’t affect you too negatively.

3. Debt.  Banks want to know that you can comfortably afford to pay ALL your debts, not just your mortgage.  Debt to income ratios vary but typically your total monthly debt should not exceed 41% of your income.

4. Credit Score. FICO scores range from 300 to 850.  Lenders typically look for 640 and above with higher scores lowering the costs.  FHA will consider borrowers with lower scores.

5. Paperwork.  Gone are the days of the no doc loan frenzy.  Lenders want to see paperwork to support your income and assets.  That means paystubs, tax returns, account statements etc.

Talk to a reputable lender to find out what is available to you.  Contact us for a referral.

Based on an original column by Candice Choi.

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Los Gatos continues to be a great place to buy a home if schools factor into your decision.

The API scores awarded based on statewide tests administered in 2013 were exemplary across the board.

Los Gatos buyers say the schools and the small town community are key factors in their decision to buy here.

Los Gatos is host to several school districts with the majority of the town being served by Los Gatos Union School District and Los Gatos – Saratoga Union High School District.

To the east of the town you can find some great neighborhoods that fall within the Union School District and Campbell Union High School District. To the north at the Campbell and Saratoga borders, homes are served by Campbell Union and Campbell Union High School Districts. Heading south on 17 you will find the small districts of Lakeside and Loma Prieta serving the Mountain communities with children moving on to the Los Gatos – Saratoga District for High School

For 2013 scores refer to the list of all the 2013 API scores for schools serving Los Gatos addresses.

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Carbon Monoxide Detector Law goes into effect

by Gail Thomson on June 27, 2011

in Blog,Sellers

A statewide requirement to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in all California homes goes into effect July 1.

The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill 183) is a two part law that states the detectors must be installed on or before July 1, 2011, in single-family dwelling units.

The law goes on to state that single family homes with fossil-fuel burning appliances and/or an attached garage MUST have the detectors installed prior to sale. The Transfer Disclosure Statement used in real estate transactions has been updated to state the presence or absence of the detectors.

All other dwelling units, such as apartments or multi-family dwellings, have until July 1, 2013, to comply.

How easy is it to comply with the law? As easy as popping down to your local Home Improvement Store and buying an inexpensive plug-in unit for less than the cost of a night out at the movies.

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