Friday, March 30, 2012

If you're like most people...

If you're like most people, your home is one of, if not THE largest investment you'll ever make and maintaining it is key to protecting its value. With Spring upon us, there's no better time to put a little sweat equity into your home!   
This list is a great start to getting your home in great shape, now, and when you're ready to sell!
Remove and donate unwanted items, reorganize and clean closets, attic, basement and garage
Power wash exterior walls, porch floors, deck, patio, driveway and sidewalks
Clean outdoor furniture, umbrellas and outdoor light fixtures
Clean out gutters
Clean out refrigerator and freezer, making sure to vacuum the grill and coil
Remove lint from the hose attached to back of clothes dryer
Vacuum baseboards, walls and ceilings, wipe down walls
Steam clean carpets and area rugs and upholstery
Reseal natural stone surfaces (travertine, etc)
Reseal and repair grout in bathtubs and showers
Clean window treatments, dust and clean blinds and shutters
Remove items from all shelves, dust and clean
If you need help with any of these projects, give me a call and I'll be happy to provide you with a great list of people to call!
Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Qualifying for Short Sales

Qualifying for Short Sales

Short Sale Requirements - Do You Qualify for a Short Sale?

By , Guide
How do sellers qualify for a short sale
Qualifying for a short sale means having a hardship, among other factors.
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Short sales is a hot buzz phrase. Some sellers who decide that their home won't sell at the price they had imagined often start to wonder if they should do a short sale. A short sale doesn't always solve problems, but it most assuredly can create problems. Short sales are not the "saving grace" some home sellers would like to believe.

What is a Short Sale?

A short sale happens when the lender is shorted on a mortgage, meaning the lender accepts less than the total amount that is due. If your mortgage is $100,000, but your home is worth, say, $90,000, you are $10,000 short, not including costs to close the sale such as real estate commissions, recording fees or title and escrow charges.
Sometimes, to avoid going through the costs of foreclosure, a lender will sanction a short sale by letting a buyer purchase the home for less than the mortgage balance while the home is in pre-foreclosure stage. A pre-foreclosure stage is one of the three stages of foreclosures.
Here are sample steps of a short sale:
  • Seller signs a listing agreement with a real estate agent subject to selling as a short sale with third-party approval.
  • The agent finds a buyer who makes an offer for less than the amount of the mortgage.
  • Seller accepts the buyer's purchase offer.
  • Seller's lender accepts the buyer's purchase offer.
  • Transaction closes when the buyer delivers the funds, the lender releases the lien and the seller delivers the deed.
In fairy-tale land, everybody lives happily ever after. Except the seller. There are consequences.

Qualifications for a Short Sale

Before you eagerly climb aboard the short sale bandwagon, consider the following to determine whether you may qualify for a short sale. If you cannot answer yes to all four requirements, you may not qualify for a short sale.
  • The Home's Market Value Has Dropped.Hard comparable sales must substantiate that the home is worth less than the unpaid balance due the lender. This unpaid balance may include a prepayment penalty.
  • The Mortgage is in or Near Default Status.It used to be that lenders would not consider a short sale if the payments were current, but that is no longer the case. Realizing that other factors contribute to a potential default, many lenders are eager to head off future problems at the pass.
  • The Seller Has Fallen on Hard Times.The seller must submit a letter of hardship that explains why the seller can not pay the difference due upon sale, including why the seller has or will stop making the monthly payments.
    A few examples that do NOT constitute a hardship are:
    1. Bad purchase decisions. Blowing your paycheck on a home theater system with surround sound does not qualify as a hardship.
    2. Unhappy with the neighbors. Even if every home on your block has turned into pot growing houses, that will not qualify as a hardship.
    3. Buying another home. The lender will not care if you have decided the home is no longer suitable for you or your family.
    4. Pregnancy. Increasing the size of your family or starting a family is not considered a hardship.
    5. Moving into an apartment. If you decide to move out of your home, that is a lifestyle decision and not a very good reason to abandon your home.
    Examples of hardship are:
    1. Unemployment
    2. Divorce
    3. Medical emergency / sudden illness
    4. Bankruptcy
    5. Death
  • The Seller Has No AssetsThe lender will probably want to see a copy of the seller's tax returns and / or a financial statement. If the lender discovers assets, the lender may not grant the short sale because the lender will feel that the seller has the ability to pay the shorted difference. Sellers with assets may still be granted a short sale but could be required to pay back the shortfall.
    For example, if the seller has cash in a savings account, owns other real estate, stocks, bonds or even IRA accounts, the lender will most likely determine that the seller has assets. However, the lender might discount the amount the seller is required to pay back.
    Many entities profit from short sales, but there is no seller short sale profit.

Short Sale Consequences

A short sale is dependent on a buyer making an offer to purchase. If you do not receive an offer, you will not qualify for a short sale. So even if you meet all the other criteria, it is possible that no one will buy the short sale. It is also dependent on the lender accepting the buyer's offer. If the lender rejects the offer, a short sale will not take place.
  • Tax ConsequencesIf the lender agrees to the short sale, the lender may possess the right to issue you a 1099 for the shorted difference, due to a provision in the IRS code about debt forgiveness. Many situations are exempt from debt forgiveness, according to the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007.
    You should speak to a real estate lawyer and a tax accountant to determine the amount of short sale tax consequences, and whether you can afford to pay those taxes, if any.
  • Blemished Credit ReportWhile a short sale will not show up on your credit report, the loan status will. For those in default, it's a pre-foreclosure that has been redeemed, which is often reported as Paid in Full for Less Than Agreed. Short sales affect credit ratings. While the damage to your credit report may not seem as significantly bad as a foreclosure to you, creditors may not make the distinction.
Always seek legal counsel before attempting to pursue a short sale. A real estate agent cannot give you legal advice.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Now, therefore, be it resolved...

Congressional Resolution Designating the Month of March as "Women's History Month"

Whereas American women of every race, class, and ethnic background have made historic contributions to the growth and strength of our Nation in countless recorded and unrecorded ways;

Whereas American women have played and continue to playa critical economic, cultural, and social role in every sphere of the life of the Nation by constituting a significant portion of the labor force working inside and outside of the home;
Whereas American women have played a unique role throughout the history of the Nation by providing the majority of the volunteer labor force of the Nation;
Whereas American women were particularly important in the establishment of early charitable, philanthropic, and cultural institutions in our Nation;
Whereas American women of every race, class, and ethnic background served as early leaders in the forefront of every major progressive social change movement;

Whereas American women have been leaders, not only in securing their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity, but also in the abolitionist movement, the emancipation movement, the industrial labor movement, the civil rights movement, and other movements, especially the peace movement, which create a more fair and just society for all; and

Whereas despite these contributions, the role of American women in history has been consistently overlooked and undervalued, in the literature, teaching and study of American history:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that March is designated as "Women's History Month.The President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation each March, calling upon the people of the United States to observe March as Women’s History Month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
~ This resolution was passed by Congress in 1987 and successive years since then.
For more information about the origin of National Women's History Month, or the activities of the National Women's History Project, contact:

National Women's History Project
3440 Airway Drive, Suite F
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

People who live their life by design know what they want...

People who live their life by design know what they want and they take the steps to get there. They put things into place that will allow them to reach their goals. They don't let their circumstances control them. If they meet an obstacle, they go over, under or through it to reach their goals.

On the other hand, people who live their life by default tend to be the ones who blame other people for their situation. They are the people who feel life has dealt them an unfair hand; and they just accept life by default and resign themselves to being stuck forever, never excelling, settling for mediocrity.

Can you imagine if people like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had lived their lives by default rather than design? Have you been guilty of living your life by default? Come on! No more settling for mediocrity! Let's get designing!
Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Grey Mood

A Grey Mood

As we hurry away to the end, my friend,
Of this sad little farce called existence,
We are sure that the future will bring one thing,
And that is the grave in the distance.
And so when our lives run along all wrong,
And nothing seems real or certain,
We can comfort ourselves with the thought (or not)
Of that spectre behind the curtain.

But we haven’t much time to repine or whine,
Or to wound or jostle each other;
And the hour for us each is to-day, I say,
If we mean to assist a brother.
And there is no pleasure that earth gives birth,
But the worry it brings is double;
And all that repays for the strife of life,
Is helping some soul in trouble.

I tell you, if I could go back the track
To my life’s morning hour,
I would not set forth, seeking name or fame,
Or that poor bauble called power.
I would be like the sunlight, and live to give;
I would lend, but I would not borrow;
Nor would I be blind and complain of pain,
Forgetting the meaning of sorrow.

This world is a vaporous jest at best,
Tossed off by the gods in laughter;
And a cruel attempt at wit were it
If nothing better came after.
It is reeking with hearts that ache and break,
Which we ought to comfort and strengthen,
As we hurry away to the end, my friend,
And the shadows behind us lengthen.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 2012 Market Update

March 2012 Market Update           
 Opportunities in the housing market continue to grow for buyers and sellers. Home affordability, driven mostly by record low interest rates, is among the lowest it has ever been. According to the National Association of Realtors, and based on national averages, the payments on a home today represent 12.8% of the median household income. This is both a good sign for those looking to purchase a home, and for the economy overall as consumers are keeping more money in their pockets.
If you're a seller, the housing market shows signs of transitioning from a buyers' market to a more balanced one. This means that home owners should start to see prices stabilize and begin to grow, presenting more favorable opportunities for those looking to sell their homes. In regards to the number of homes on the market, a key indicator of the health of the housing market, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said, "The broad inventory condition can be described as moving into a rough balance, not favoring buyers or sellers."
With continuing job creation, the improving housing sector, and signs that the banks are beginning to lend more, 2012 looks to offer promising opportunities to both those looking to buy or sell a home.
Source: National Association of Realtors           
Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

ATTITUDE by: Charles Swindoll


by: Charles Swindoll

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

Friday, March 9, 2012

For those dealing with a challenging time… | notsalmon

For those dealing with a challenging time… | notsalmon
FACT: You don't grow unless you stretch yourself. PROBLEM: Stretching yourself usually means you will feel (ugh) discomfort. You have to deal with the pain of facing the fear of the unknown and working some new emotional and mental muscle groups.
FACT: Most people are (1)fearful of the unknown (2) comfy with putting in the least effort (3) not willing to put up with short term pain for longterm gain.
FACT: But not you, right? Today decide to do at least one thing that's unfamiliar or scary.
Lisa Ekanger Your Realtor!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

We fought each other for dominance like ants climbing a mound.

An Essay By Lisa Thielen Ekanger

There isn't just one moment when I realized or understood the meaning of love.  For me,
love has revealed itself slowly like the low tide pulling back glassy sheets of crystal
water allowing full display of the glistening shells and rock treasures below. Love always comes to me in completely unexpected and in fragile moments.  After I delivered my first child, I lay awake crying most of the night. Not crying with happiness, but with a deep sadness that is the very evidence of loves existence. I was visited with visions of my tiny newborn baby as an old man.                    Like in the movie, A Christmas Carol, I saw him when he was at least 80 years sitting 
in a chair, staring out the window. I thought, "What have I done?"  "Who will take care of this beautiful creature, this perfect little son of mine when I am gone?"  The magnitude, the weight and the sheer volume of my new responsibility was maternal love in its rawest form.
Another distinct memory I cherish was when my elderly Grandma and I were going
through her attic looking at her collections of shoes and matching handbags when she
turned to me and said, "Lisa, you might find this hard to believe but men used to find me sexy."         I was taken aback because I really didn't know how to respond, but when I looked into her eyes I was immediately pulled into the deeper meaning of the moment. I immediately understood her journey. What a precious relationship Grandma's and Granddaughters have; ours was about discussing her history ~ she would weave stories that held important life lessons for me and our love was about laughter and mutual affections, but yet at the same time Grandma knew how to tweak the stories of life's scars, tragedies and struggles so as not to wipe away my enthusiasm. I learned about matching accessories and making a peach pie from scratch.  We talked about celebrities and the craziness of the world, but on this particular day, I saw behind her thick weathered glasses, past her tired lids and straight into her soul. Her spirit said, "Look at me for what I was. Look at me for the beauty I once owned. Look at me for what I accomplished as an independent woman who fought for the right to go to college, to have a career and who could command the attention of the crowd."  Her spirit was saying, "Remember me when I was on top of my game ~ remember me when I was at my sparkling best."  I spent the rest of the evening thinking about her life and her importance in mine; I was flooded with love and admiration and also the pressing feeling that time was ticking by too that day and in that moment, the torch had been passed and the depth of our love was written somewhere in the ages.

Love sometimes meanders like a soft fog leaving a dewy film on everything in its path; it also bounces and pelts like hail during a hard driving rain. It can also be flexible and the strength we receive from its generosity can be as solid as the mighty oak swaying during life's worst storms.

Recently I traveled through a huge 'life' storm; I transitioned into a new career where I was reeling with insecurity and self destructive thoughts. Working on 100% straight commission as a realtor (in the state of Michigan) is about as tough of a go as one can have, and my lack of confidence affected my marriage, my ability to parent, my happiness and worst of all my self esteem.  Then one day about six months into my new career I met a person who would introduce themselves to me as my business mentor. This person ended up as so much more than that ~  becoming more of a life coach.  The struggles were numerous and our discussions long; we fought each other for dominance like ants climbing a mound.  Instinctively this person who really didnt know me, knew me (and what I was made of) even though we had just met we knew that I liked being in a helpless place because it was much easier and more comfortable than taking a risk and walking through my fears. Somehow my mentor could see right through me and just wouldn't let me off the hook.... tough love would be the only way to get me to listen ~ knocking me off my 'know it all' golden high horse and then catching me with a stretchy net right before I hit the floor.  Some days I cursed the very ground this person walked on but I never DIDN’T appreciate the message.  Sometimes life throws you a curveball and you can decide to swing or duck ~ with my mentor at my side I had no choice but to swing.  It's amazing when you meet another person who just 'gets' you from the instant you meet each other, like some kind of cosmic dust that pulls millions of like particles into the shape of a star, we belonged together.  This sort of understanding is a basic and important element in everyones life and I'm just sorry I didn't get to experience it until I was already well into my 40's. Oh the magical things I could have achieved if I had experienced this pure form of human love earlier.

Another one of my early life storms came in the package of a mentally ill and homeless
father. The goal was to find him a psychiatric hospital for treatment; we located him and we carefully walked him to our automobile ~ he wasn't happy and began pleading with my newlywed husband to help rescue him.  During the entire ride to the ER he chanted my hubby's name and when he became uncontrollable during the intake process the clinicians placed him in five point restraints. My father began to cry and as he lay there pinned down to a rickety gurney (dirty and disheveled, hardly the slick salesman I had grown up with) I began to cry too. This was not the way things were supposed to go.  This is not written in any fathering 101 book or in any Hallmark card. My new husband, the love of my life, could clearly see that I was completely distraught and overcome with anxiety; he went to my father (who was still chanting his name as he was being wheeled into a room) and calmed him and when he was done he quietly spent time trying to calm me. 
He told me, "Lis, everything is going to be O.K." 
That was 25 years ago and guess what? He was right, everything was  O.K. and the rock of his stable and loyal love is still the centerpiece of a beautifully set table called my life.

Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Trainer!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Women who have better access to the pill are earning 8 percent more than those who didn't by the time they reached age 50

By Dino Grandoni | The Atlantic Wire6 hrs ago
Women Who Took the Pill Had an 8 Percent Higher Income by Age 50
A group of economists have found that women who had better access to the pill were earning 8 percent more than those who didn't by the time they reached age 50. Another reason, maybe, for why women should have birth control covered by their insurance? The trio of researchers from the Universities of Michigan and Virginia found in a study from last December that women aged 18 to 21 who lived in states with better legal access to oral contraceptives in 1970 had hourly wages that were 8 percent higher than peers in less pill-friendly states by the time they reached their late forties. Their explanation of why access to the pill translates to higher incomes:
Consistent with the well-known relationship of women’s wage growth to cumulative labor-force experience, our decomposition indicates that almost two thirds of the Pill-induced wage premium at the mean is explained through its effect on women’s labor-force experience. Another third of the premium is due to changes in educational attainment and occupational choice.
In short, women on the pill are better able to get degrees, choose their occupation, and enter (and leave) the workforce when they want, which in turn gives them better footing with men in terms of commanding wages. "Our estimates imply that the pill can account for 10 percent of the convergence [of] the gender gap in the 1980s and 30 percent in the 1990s," write the researchers. At 80 cents to each $1 a man earns in 2009, that gender wage gap is hardly closed, which is why this statistic (like others) has reentered the contraception troll-fest debate, with The New York Times calling back to it today.
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Big profits can be made buying liens on homes with overdue property taxes.

Real Estate

Investors target property tax deadbeatsBig profits can be made buying liens on homes with overdue property taxes. But like any investment offering tempting yields, the potential pitfalls of tax lien investing are pretty huge. More
Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!