Sunday, June 29, 2008

DISNEYLAND Fireworks Every Night

Disneyland Fireworks can be heard nightly here in Southern California. That's a good thing and helps us be taken away in our thoughts of fun and interesting times with family and friends.

My wife Christi and I live at our home in the Turtle Rock area of Irvine, South Orange County, California, about 15 miles south of Anaheim and Disneyland.

It's a beautiful time of year here. We experience some of the best weather in the world with warm sunshine during summer days and ocean breezes at night.

While writing a note here at my desk at home, I feel a bit of the pacific ocean sea breeze washing through our neighborhood. Disneyland fireworks are going off in the distance. Hearing them each night at about 9:35 PM is fun.

We are blessed to have a home and live in such a place. The comfort of our weather and variety of coastal lands some reasons why so many folks want to move and live here in South OC.

Disneyland fireworks seem to be part of that too.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, Coldwell Banker Previews. June 27, 2008.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get Over the 'NIMBY" Attitude When It Comes to Our Need For More Fuel and Energy

A primary challenge for us in business here in California and the US is high gas and fuel prices.


Jonathan Lanser at the Orange County Register says that people need to temper their "NIMBY" (not in my back yard) attitudes. We agree.

Our need for plentiful and cheaper fuel and energy is clear. However, many folks object to it being produced in their home towns and back yards.

Industry here in the U.S. can build clean, efficient plants that produce and transport fuel and energy. It's OK to have them near your town or home neighborhood.

It's good that some people want to protect the environment while adding energy infrastructure.

Compromises must be made. We need power plants, more nuclear power, oil refineries, oil wells, transmission and transportation hubs.

Let's help make things better for business, our economy and real estate, and improve quality of life for people along the way. We agree with Jonathan Lansner.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group
Source: Orange County Register, June 22, 2008

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Good that FHA Suspended its 90-day Rule Against Flipping

Foreclosed and abandoned homes harm neighborhoods and delay a community’s recovery.

In order to help facilities sale of bank-owned properties, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has temporarily suspended its 90-day rule against flipping of properties.

Under that anti-flipping rule, the FHA does not insure a mortgage loan if the sales contract is executed within 90 days of the seller’s acquisition of the property. Effective June 9, 2008, the anti-flipping rule has been waived for one year for properties acquired by lenders, their subsidiaries, and their outside vendors.
The FHA still requires homes to be “safe, secure, and sound," which may not be the condition of certain foreclosed-upon properties.

Check out Federal Housing Administration. Also check out article about California REO Transactions at California Association of Realtors.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Let's Increase Drilling and the Supply of US Domestic Oil and Get Price at the Pump Down

Business people must recognize that we have a serious problem in the US with the price of oil and gas at the pump.

The Democrats in US Congress are keeping us from exploring and drilling for domestic oil. And they are helping to limit our domestic supply.

The U.S. House and its appropriations committee (lead by Democrats) refused during the week of June 11, 2008, to lift the ban on oil exploration on the outer continental shelf (at least 50 miles from American shores).

We need to get more domestic oil. We need to increase US oil production and get price at the gas pump down. Drilling for oil is a way to accomplish that.

Let's tap our own US resources for oil. Otherwise, the international price of oil will rise to $250 a barrel, and we will be paying more than $10 a gallon at the pump.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, Coldwell Banker Previews

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

U.S. Congress Should Work To Improve Our Domestic Oil Supply & Get Decreased Prices at the Gas Pump

This gasoline price at the PUMP CRUNCH is rough for all of us. Supply has not kept pace with demand, and so prices rise.

Many of steps taken in the U.S. for reduction of demand are being negated by increased demands for oil in foreign countries including India and China.

The best step we can take to decrease prices is to INCREASE SUPPLIES of oil here in the U.S.

U.S. Congress and Senate (both controlled by Democrats) has instead proposed legislation that would allow the U.S. to sue OPEC for suppressing oil production.


We criticize other countries for curbing their oil production, and at the same time close off areas here in the U.S. known to have oil reserves and natural gas.

China is now working with Cuba to drill for oil 60 miles off the coast of Florida.

Meanwhile our Congress does nothing to increase our production and explore other U.S. oil resources.

On June 11, 2008, the U.S. Senate appropriations committee (controlled by Democrats) refused to consider a bill to allow exploration and drilling for oil by U.S. companies in international waters. Does that make sense?

We have advanced exploration technology available to allow development of oil in an environmentally-sensitive way while protecting surrounding habitats and wildlife.

Our U.S. Congress waits.

It is estimated that exploring a mere 2,000 acres of frozen tundra in the 1.5 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) could produce 10.4 billion barrels of oil. It is also estimated that offshore drilling would yield 86 billion barrels of oil and large quantities of natural gas.

In the long term, we must find and develop alternative energy sources here in the U.S. and be less dependent on oil.

During the short-term, developing our own domestic sources of oil should take priority.

Our U.S. Congress with Republicans and Democrats working together should legislate for real solutions to increasE oil production, provide more oil for us and get gasoline prices down at the pump.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, June 11, 2008
Source: Ken Calvert, U.S. Congress Representative, 44th District from California

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

U.S. Presidential Candidates Different Positions on Housing and the Economy

U.S. Presidential Candidates Different Positions on Housing and the Economy

The two U.S. Presidential candidates for election 2008 have different approaches to housing and economic issues.
Senator John McCain:
1. Proposes to spend up to $10 billion to allow some home owners to trade high-interest, adjustable-rate mortgages for fixed-rate loans.

That sounds good.

2. Proposes a suspension of the 18.4-cent federal gas tax and 24.4-cent diesel tax during the summer.

That sounds good too.

3. Supports a middle-class tax cut by doubling the personal tax exemption for dependents to $7,000.

This also will be good.

4. Calls for a simpler tax system with two tax rates and a generous standard deduction.

We agree.

5. Supports making permanent the 2001 and 2003 income tax cuts and proposes cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and allowing businesses to immediately write off capital expenses.

We agree again.

6. Maintains that government assistance to the banking system should focus on preventing systemic risk that would endanger the financial system and the economy.

Senator Barak Obama:

1. Calls for greater government regulation of the U.S. financial system and proposes a new $30 billion economic stimulus plan to help home owners, including a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund to help people keep their homes and $10 billion in relief for state and local governments hit hardest by the housing crisis.

Would that be socialism? Is he suggesting that we socialize the U.S. financial system?

2. Outlines six "core principles for reform" that would give the Federal Reserve supervisory authority over any financial institution to which it might make credit available and calls for reform and streamlining of financial regulatory agencies.


3. Wants to repeal a provision in the bankruptcy law so ordinary families can modify terms of home mortgages.

What are "ordinary families"? What does he mean by "modify terms"?

4. Proposes a 10 percent mortgage tax credit for middle-class Americans.

What are "middle class Americans"?

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, Coldwell Banker Previews, June 10, 2008.
Source: Reuters News Service

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California Sales Tax Should Not Be Expanded to Include That For Services

The State of California and legislature (controlled for many years by Democrats) and Board of Equalization is considering sales tax expansion to include that on services, such as fees for real estate agents, physicians, dentists, lawyers, accountants, architects, gardeners, landscapers, babysitters, and so many others.

There is an obscure rule of the Board of Equalization, the state's tax collecting agency, that would allow such consideration. This elected board is itself governed by 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans.

We recognize that the state of California is in financial trouble with estimated budget deficit of $17 billion.

The state should focus on reducing its mammoth payroll and pension obligations, stop giving away money so much money through entitlement programs, increased welfare benefit payments, and that involving medical care for illegal immigrants.

Democrats don’t want to cut services. Republicans don’t want to raise taxes, and we agree.

The California sales tax currently only applies to goods that you can touch, like motor vehicles, household items, golf clubs, clothing, office supplies, computers, telephones, and digital recorders.

Our sales tax does not now apply to services, like that of a real estate agent, physician, lawyer, dentist, accountant, architect, and labor for an auto mechanic.

The State board of Equalization without permission from the legislature and governor could change this system to include sales taxes on services.

What a mistake that would be and get us tied up in court of years on constitutional issues, which would require further use of the state's precious money.

The possibility of expansion of sales tax to include services should be opposed and rejected by every California business person.

The board’s chairwoman, Judy Chu, has already during April 2008 proposed a 5 percent sales tax on services and argued that the board has such authority to make this determination on its own.

Our California State Board of Equalization and the Democrat controlled legislature should not be allowed to expand sales tax in California to include that for services.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, June 9, 2008
Source: Orange County Register

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Challenges for Real Estate Investors In This Declining Home Value Market

Some losers in this residential real estate declining market are buyers of second homes, investors who are now involved with income tax debt challenge.

Some of these people will lose their properties through short sale or foreclosure and make it to bankruptcy under the weight of a income tax bill.

While U.S. Congress has granted some tax relief to people who lose their primary homes, there is no such aid for investors who fall behind on payments on 2nd homes.

If a person buys an investment home, and it they are unable to make payments and forced to short sale that property, or if they lose it in foreclosure, the difference between the amount they borrowed and the rental home’s sale price in short sale or foreclosure will ultimately be considered by the IRS to be taxable income as forgiven debt.

Under the U.S. Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which is effective from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2009, a homeowner does not have to pay ioncome tax on debt forgiven by a lender, as long as the loan is backed by the property the homeowner lives in.

According to the National Association of Realtors, there are about 7.5 million vacation homes in the country, about 10 percent of the number of owner-occupied homes. From 2002 to 2007, the number of vacation homes rose 18 percent, more than three times the growth in the number of owner-occupied homes and the growth in investor-owned units.

For investment property owners with a potential income tax bill, there is one possible way to minimize the damage. Negotiating with a lender could prove to be good. The lender needs to agree that foreclosure fully satisfies all obligations under the loan. With that statement, there could possibly be no outstanding unpaid debt reported by the bank that the Internal Revenue Service could treat as income. However, it is still unknown whether that tactic will work with the IRS and the US tax courts.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, June 6, 2008
Source: California Association of Realtors, National Assoc. of Realtors

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

NAR Approves New Model Rules For MLS About "Short Sales"

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) board of directors has recently adopted new policy for disclosure of short sale listings in a multiple listing service.

The NAR directors “approved new model rules for Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) that would enable practitioners to alert one another to potential short sales and put them on notice about the sharing of any reduction in gross listing commission required by a lender. MLSs are given the authority to decide whether or not their participants have to disclose reasonablyknown short sales."

All MLSs must provide their members with the means to disclose that a given listing is a short sale.

For purposes of the new rule, short sales are defined as “a transaction where title transfers; where the sale price is insufficient to pay the total of all liens and costs of sale; and where the seller does not bring sufficient liquid assets to the closing to cure all deciencies.”

Agents for buyers in short sales must advise the buyer clients that a proposed short sale price accepted by the seller might not be approved by the lender. Buyers should be careful and not get too excited about a possible bargain at short sale.

It's not the easy road for a real buyer.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, June 5, 2008
Source: Bob Hunt.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What Does The NAR v. DOJ Case Settlement Mean?

The U.S. Lawsuit vs. the National Association of Realtors Online Listing Policy Is Being Settled as of May 27, 2008, which calls for the adoption of a new online listings policy.

Source: settlement proposal (United States v. National Association of Realtors, May 27, 2008)

The lawsuit had challenged the NAR policies governing the online sharing and display of property listings, including Virtual Office Web site (VOW) and Internet Listings Display (ILD) policies.

The biggest win for NAR was the DOJ's concession that MLS members must be actively engaged in real estate transactions, which is defined broadly include brokers who make an effort to be engaged in real estate transactions, but fail to close any deals over an extended period of time.
Another NAR win is a registration requirement that will restrict access to VOWs and enable brokers to keep records of VOW-registered e-mail addresses. Those must be confirmed before the registrant can access the VOW.
Other data-sharing policies for multiple listing services and participants, known as Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policies, were not challenged in the lawsuit and are not affected by the proposed settlement.

The proposed settlement provides that the display of listing information on a VOW site does not require separate permission from the participant whose listings will be available on the VOW. However, it does provide that individual sellers can choose to block information about their home from display on the Internet.

The proposed settlement is not yet final, will be published in the Federal Register and is subject to a 60-day comment period and a 30-day review by a judge. NAR must adopt the modified VOW policy within five business days of the final judgment on the settlement agreement.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, May 28, 2008
Source: settlement proposal (United States v. National Association of Realtors, May 27, 2008)

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

An Old Fashioned Way of Determining Value for a Home

Value of housing has many variants. The value of a certain home is determined by lots of factors specific to that property. It's difficult to asign economic value to each of these factors. This is especially true when buyers and sellers do not not have complete information about each factor.

Some web sites (like S&P and Case-Shiller) use mathematical weighting formulas to come up with opinion on home value.

However, they don't consider whether buyers have actually seen or previewed the houses and the neighborhoods.

So these sites and indexes are incapable to accurately determine economic value or price of a home.

Lenders don't look to computer-generated models to make decisions. They instead rely on old fashioned buyer and seller factors, such as comparable sales to determine how much to loan on a given property.

Buyers count on such things as appearance of the home, character and neutrality of improvements, landscaping, what kind of light the interior of the home is exposed to, character of the town and neighborhood, schools, whether others homes on the street have been improved, positive activities in the area, and management of the homeowner association.

We believe the old fashioned way of determining home value will be making a comeback.

Posted by Harrison K. Long, Explore Properties Group, June 1, 2008

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