Sunday, 31 July 2011

Wellington Square Farmers Market every Sunday

Wellington Square Farmers Market open til 1:00 today--
Great little market right in our neck of the woods--
no you don't have to go to Larchmont--
support it & it will grow as big as that one! 
Easy, free parking...
Washington Blvd between Wellington & Virginia

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Tonight in West Adams--free movie

WEST ADAMS PEEPS-- specifically West Adams Terrace, ( the Avenues), Kinney Heights, Western Heights, & the Upper Avenues
Council office & UNNC is holding a hot dog picnic with activities---
 right NOW at the 2nd Avenue (Benny Potter ) Park--
 to be followed by the free Movie in the Park--- tonight--
How to Train Your Dragon--
Git on over there-- Y'hear?

Do-it-yourself mortgage savings

Do-it-yourself mortgage savings

There's an easier way than sending in 2 payments each month

DEAR BENNY: My lender just sent me a form notice suggesting that I can save a lot of money if I start making two mortgage payments each and every month. Does this make sense? --Jill
DEAR JILL: There is a trade-off on what is called a "biweekly" mortgage. Yes, you will save paying a lot of interest, but, depending on your tax bracket, your interest deductions will also be reduced.
Let's take this example: You borrow $200,000 at 4.75 percent for 30 years. From the amortization table, you know that your monthly payment (excluding taxes and insurance) is $1,043.30. If you continue to pay this amount each and every month, on the 360th month, you will have paid off your mortgage completely.
But let's say that instead of paying monthly, you decide to make two payments each month. In effect, you are now making 13 monthly payments each year, which will reduce the number of years you have to pay down to between 22 and 25, instead of 30.
But does this make sense? I think not. As I have written on several occasions, you can accomplish this same goal by adding additional funds when you make your monthly mortgage.
In my example, since your monthly mortgage is $1043.30, divide that by 12 ($86.94) and add that amount to your monthly mortgage. You get the same benefits as with the "biweekly," but you don't have to send in two payments. More importantly, you are not obligated to make those extra payments if your financial situation changes. With the biweekly, you must make two payments per month.
If you opt to make a larger monthly payment, make sure that you write on your check "extra payment to principal in the amount of XX," and also make a notation on any coupon that you have to send in. If you have arranged for automatic payments from your bank, send the loan servicer a letter advising that you are making additional payments toward principal.
And at the end of each year when you get your mortgage balance statement, confirm that all of that additional money has, in fact, been credited.

Friday, 29 July 2011

John Aaroe Group--Architectural Properties Division

"LA's Architectural Moment #5"...

Gamble House in Pasadena is one of So Cal's greatest architectural resources & a National Historic Landmark. Designed by architect brothers Charles Sumner Greene & Henry Mather Greene in 1908-09 for David B. Gamble (think Procter & Gamble...toothpaste...dete​rgent...etc.) Originally intended as a winter residence (like most turn-of-the-century estates in the San Gabriel Valley), this 3-story residence is often described as America's "Arts & Crafts masterpiece." Its style shows influence from traditional Japanese aesthetics & California spaciousness born of available land and a glorious climate. The Arts & Crafts Movement in American Craftsman style architecture was focused on the use of natural materials, attention to detail, aesthetics, & craftsmanship.

Aaroe Architectural (AA) is the exciting new architectural properties division at John Aaroe Group (JAG) which premiers this June. Hold on to your architectural aesthetics "...cause you ain't seen 'nothin yet!"

Bret Parsons, Founder & Managing Director, JAG-AA

Canine Real Estate Courtesy of!!!

The Dog Days of Summer

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Mortgage rates settle near lows for the year

Mortgage rates settle near lows for the year

Mortgage bankers see surge in demand for refinancings

Mortgage rates were little changed this week, remaining near their lows for the year on mixed economic and housing data, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its latestPrimary Mortgage Market Survey.
A separate survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed a jump in applications to refinance last week, and that demand for purchase loans was stronger than at the same time a year ago.
Freddie Mac's survey showed rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.52 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending July 21, virtually unchanged from 4.51 percent last week and 4.56 percent a year ago.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit an all-time low in Freddie Mac records dating to 1971 of 4.17 percent during the week ending Nov. 11, 2010, before climbing to a 2011 high of 5.05 percent in February.
Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.66 percent with an average 0.7 point, compared to last week's 2011 low of 3.65 percent and 4.03 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate loan hit an all-time low in records dating to 1991 of 3.57 percent in November, before climbing to a 2011 high of 4.29 percent in February.
Rates on 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans averaged 3.27 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from 3.29 percent last week and 3.79 percent a year ago.
This year, rates on 5-year ARMs have ranged from a high of 3.92 percent in February to 3.22 percent during the week ending June 30 -- an all-time low in Freddie Mac records dating to 2005.
One-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.97 percent with an average 0.5 point, up slightly from 2.95 percent last week but down from 3.70 percent a year ago.
MBA chief economist Michael Fratantoni said ongoing turmoil in the financial markets -- particularly the European debt crisis -- has brought mortgage rates down.
The MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey showed demand for refinancings jumped 23.1 percent during the week ending July 15 from the week before.
After adjusting for seasonal factors, demand for purchase loans was virtually unchanged from the week before, but was up 8.3 percent from a year ago.
Fratantoni said one factor driving the surge in refinancings may be that borrowers who could be affected by potential decreases in the so-called jumbo conforming loan limit this fall may be moving to lock in fixed-rate financing.
Unless Congress decides otherwise, the $729,750 cap on jumbo conforming loans in high-cost markets is scheduled to drop to $625,500 on Oct. 1.
In a forecast published last month, MBA economists said they expected rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to average 4.9 percent during the third quarter and 5.2 percent during the final three months of the year. The forecast predicts a gradual rise in rates next year, to an average 5.7 percent during fourth-quarter 2012.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Everyone knows you’re supposed to be proactive and assertive when you take out a mortgage, carefully collecting and evaluating all sorts of information before you make the biggest deal of your life. But when the mortgage broker starts shooting sheaves of papers (OK, PDF documents) at you, it’s easy for your eyes to glaze over at the sight of so many zeroes, and tempting just to start signing whatever it takes to get that house!  

Here are 5 questions every smart buyer (or refi-er) should add to the list of issues to cover with your mortgage professional:

  1. Are you a bank, a broker, or both?  Generally speaking, mortgage lenders that are banks or have their own banking divisions (which many reputable brokerages do) have more control over the appraisal process, including the ability to submit your file to a pool of appraisers they know have some knowledge of your local neighborhood. Given the fact that non-local appraisers and the inability to communicate with appraisers under relatively new guidelines for brokerages are responsible for killing loads and loads of deals, working with a company that is or has a bank could be a deal-saving move, especially if the property is in an area that hasn’t had many recent sales or is otherwise challenging to appraise.

Also, some broker/banks that originate loans and sell them straight to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac under the FHA loan programs offer the same benefits of an FHA loan - low down payment and moderate qualification guidelines - without the “overlays” imposed by some larger banks, which actually place a more restrictive set of guidelines on FHA loan programs. For example, FHA guidelines do not impose a minimum credit score, but many banks overlay their own 640 minimum FICO requirement. Broker/banks that sell straight to Fannie and Freddie often mirror the FHA minimum guidelines precisely.

Finally, brokerages with their own in-house bank and a large roster of lenders and programs provide the advantage of offering a wider range of fallback options than plain old banks or plain old brokerages - Plans A, B, C and D, if you will - which many borrowers need these days, in the (increasingly common) case your first choice bank or loan program doesn’t work out.
  1. Will you explain my Good Faith Estimate to me? May I also have a fee sheet or estimate of funds to close? The current, national standard Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is pretty clear, clarifying all sorts of deal points, from the broker’s commissions to the costs associated with the loan, but as a point of customer service, you should ask your mortgage pro to explain it to you (if they don’t do so under their own initiative).

The one shortfall of the the latest edition of the GFE is that, while it clearly shows the costs associated with a particular loan scenario, it does not always show so clearly the actual amount of funds you’ll need to close the transaction (which might be more or less than those costs)! So, ask your mortgage representative to prepare a fee sheet or an estimate of funds to close as early in the transaction as possible.
  1. How long will it take to close my loan? How much time will I need for loan and appraisal contingencies?  The time frames for closing your mortgage - which often drive the time frames for closing your home purchase - often vary widely depending on the type of loan and even the type of lender you work with.(Large bank loans originated by the bankers who sit inside the branch are notoriously slower to close, on average, than loans originated by brokers.) Similarly, the time it takes to get through the FHA loan appraisal and underwriting process might be much longer than it would take, all things being equal, to clear those hurdles and remove your loan and appraisal contingencies on a Conventional (i.e., non-FHA) mortgage.  

When you first meet with your prospective mortgage pro, talk with them about these time frames, so they can help you set realistic expectations and insert realistic time frames into your offer when you make it, to minimize the drama of a contingency clock that ticks way faster than your mortgage process.
  1. Are there any fees for the mortgage loan application/approval process? Some lenders charge for credit checks up front, and most require that you pay for your appraisal in advance (although the latter happens only after you find and get into contract on your property. One of the first questions you should ask, when you sit down with a new mortgage broker is how much cash you’ll have to come up with just for the privilege of having them run your application and take the first steps down the road to loan approval.

  1. How long have you been originating loans? And how long have you been with your company? Mortgage pros who have been around for a long time have the knowledge of advance troubleshooting, workarounds and backup plans, and the current underwriting practices it takes to get a loan closed in this restrictive mortgage market. If you found them in some way other than a referral, you can even ask for references from a few clients. Most mortgage pros who have been in business for awhile will be able to give you names and numbers of clients they’ve worked with on multiple purchases and/or refis: that’s a very good sign. You’ll rest a lot easier if you know that your loan is in the hands of a seasoned pro who others like you trust with their largest asset - and largest financial obligation.
From Tara @ Trulia

here's the rest of the post about our endangered parks....

Looking Back at the 11 Most: California’s State Parks

Written by Elaine Stiles
The author and her son Milo in China Camp State Park in 2009. (Photo: Elaine Stiles
When I moved to California five years ago after a lifetime spent on the east coast, I had a lot to learn about my new home. To combat my sense of disorientation, I became a heritage tourist in my own back yard, hoping the past would help me get better acquainted with the present. Not surprisingly, California’s state parks played a central role in my efforts. Sites like theWeaverville Joss House (the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in the state),Angel IslandMount Diablo, and Marshall Gold Discovery State Park exposed me to the natural and historic wonders of the Golden State, as well as the things that help us really understand a place:  the people who lived there, the jobs people did, the communities they formed, and the cultural and natural landscapes they shaped.  After five years in California, I’ve still barely scratched the surface of California’s state parks. I’m still waiting to visit the most productive gold mine in California history, the most restored of California’s Spanish missions, the most extensive collection of Native American rock art in California, and the only town in the state founded, financed, and governed by African Americans.
The inherent cultural value of California’s state parks are at the core of the National Trust’s decade-long commitment to ensure that the system remains open, well-maintained, and adequately funded. The California state park system has suffered from decades of underfunding, resulting in a $1.2 billion maintenance backlog and adverse conditions for many historic and cultural resources. In recent years, budget reductions of 43% since 2006 have compounded these challenges and required service cuts and reduced hours at many park units. The significance and vulnerability of California’s state parks has been highlighted on annual lists of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places three times in various forms: in 1999, the Angel Island Immigration Station at Angel Island State Park was an emblem of the deterioration and neglect suffered by many historic resources in the park system; in 2008, the entire California State Park system made the list under threats of budget cuts and closures; and in 2010 the system was featured in the thematic listing of America’s State Parks and State-Owned Historic Sites.
Brochures from 70 State Parks scheduled to close in 2012. (Photo: Elaine Stiles)
Just two weeks ago, there was major news for California’s state parks when Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that closed a $26.6 billion deficit in our cash-strapped state. The cuts it entails will hit many public sectors in California hard, including our state park system. The budget includes $33 million in cuts over the next two years, resulting in the closure of 70 of the state’s 270 parks in 2012. This is a tough new reality for California state parks, and one that had been successfully beaten back or reduced during each of the past five years’ state budget cycles by the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) and Save Our State Parks(SOS), dozens of organizational partners like the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and thousands of Californians who love their parks. This year was no different. Just days before Governor Brown signed this year’s budget the SOS coalition – including National Trust Western Regional Attorney Brian Turner – rallied on the steps of the State Capitol and visited legislators to highlight resources at risk if the proposed 70 state parks – including 23 state historic parks – closed their doors.
Although it is hard to contemplate the closure of one quarter of our state parks, Californians from all corners of the state remain committed to supporting the integrity and quality of our collective cultural and natural heritage. With 1.4 million acres, more than 3,000 historic buildings, 11,000 archaeological sites, and six million museum objects, this is indeed a long-term commitment. While supporters ride out this particular tough spot, no one is idle. The CSPF, with the support of the National Trust, is working with the California legislature to pass two bills to benefit the system: AB 42, which would ease the effects of park budget cuts by allowing operating agreements with nonprofit organizations to keep parks open and accessible, and SB 580, which would enact statewide policy to protect the park system against development projects inconsistent with park use. The CSPF and Save the Redwood League, with contributions and support from National Trust Western Regional Director of Programs Anthony Veerkamp and other partners, recently released A Vision for Excellence for California’s State Parks, which provides a blueprint for ensuring the future of California’s state parks through relevancy, increased access, resource protection, broader leadership, and diversified funding streams. And of course, as park devotees we do the single best thing we can do to support our state parks: we visit them with enthusiasm, wonder, curiosity, and gratitude for those who preserved, and continue to preserve, our state’s superlative cultural and natural heritage.
To learn more about how you can help California’s state parks, please visit the California State Parks Foundation and the Save Our State Parks campaign.
You can learn more about this year’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places — and you can help. By texting the word “PLACES” to 25383 on your mobile phone, you can donate a special $10.00 gift to support the National Trust’s efforts to save the places that tell America’s story. Click here for details.
A one-time donation of $10.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the National Trust for Historic Preservation by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at Messaging and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOPto short code 25383; text HELP to 25383 for help.
Elaine Stiles is a Program Officer in the Western Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She will be taking her 3-year-old twins on their first camping trip this summer in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Did you know that 70 of California's 270 State Parks are scheduled to close in 2012 due to budget cuts? Read about what's being done to steward these places and how activists have been working to preserve them for public enjoyment over the past twelve years.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Trying to attract more buyers? Simple green fixes may add buying incentive---from

Simple green fixes may add buying incentive

Jul 15 2011 5:35PM
While many may feel like green energy costs an arm and a leg, there are some simple cost-effective ways to employ green technology and, in so doing, make a house more attractive on the real estate market. For example, painting a roof white may eliminate some cooling costs, according to FoxBusiness.

According to a study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Heat Island Group, buildings with white roofs require 40 percent less cooling energy than structures with black roofs, the source reports. A white elastomeric coating - a durable, waterproof blend of polymers - should do the trick. The product is inexpensive, and those with standard roofs may even be able to apply the coat themselves.

Low-flow shower heads are another simple fix that can reduce the amount of water used by a household, according to Dough Roller. These shower heads range in price from $5 to $50 and work by aerating water, which means that water pressure should not be affected even though less is being used.

Whatever energy-efficient changes a homeowner decides to make, the improvements should be shared with real estate agents, who can herald those aspects of the home

Monday, 18 July 2011

HUD Secretary says It's Time to Buy!!!

Obama's Housing Chief: Now's The Time To Buy

Housing Prices Have Hit Rock Bottom, HUD Head Says

Posted: 9:00 am EDT July 3, 2011Updated: 2:37 pm EDT July 3, 2011
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Housing prices have hit rock bottom and the economic climate is prime to purchase a home, said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.
In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Donovan said declining foreclosure rates make him hopeful, adding that it is "very unlikely we see a significant further decline."
"Housing is more affordable than it's been in a generation," Donovan told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "I think it is a good time, long time to become a home owner because it's so affordable today compared to where it's been for generations."
With 1.3 million homes in foreclosure, Donovan said he recognizes the frustrations of the American people but added that housing prices have largely stabilized following the "most serious crisis we've had in housing since the Depression."
"Foreclosures are coming down. They're down about 40% since last year," said Donovan, who joined President Barack Obama's Cabinet in 2009. "So, we are making progress, but rightly, the American people recognize we're not where we need to be. We still have a ways to go."
When asked about a push toward requiring home buyers to make a 20% down payment, Donovan said there should be a path for qualified individuals to purchase a home for less than 20% down.
"We can't go so far in the other direction that we cut off home ownership for people who really can be successful homeowners," Donovan said. "We can get back to the place where it's a good investment and we will be able to make money over time."
But he said Americans can also not revert back to using their houses "like ATM's" with no down payments.