Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to buy property in Mexico!

Once upon a time, Americans were not allowed to buy property in Mexico. And once upon a time this was true. Mexico had "restricted zones" and these zones included the coastal waters edge inland 30 miles, from the border inland 60 miles, and all of the Baja Peninsula states of Baja California and Baja California Sur.

Leasing and time shares were the only purchase options in those areas available to most Americans, until Mexico's Foreign Investment Act of 1993 and the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement of 1994. Now it is possible to own property in the restricted zone with all the same rights as "fee simple" in U.S.

Since ownership became possible, Mexico's tourist meccas have exploded with U.S investment dollars and development growth. I went to Puerto Vallarta last year and there were so many developments happening I could barely keep track.

You must do your homework before you buy in Mexico. Here are some tips before buying in Mexico: Research the integrity of the developer, talk to others who have purchased in the proposed development, take out title insurance and the most important thing - do not drink margaritas before or during the signing. You may have forgotten what you bought in the morning!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Oakland Homeowners: Loans and Grants for Home Repair

Oakland homeowners, help is here for that home repair or improvement--electrical, plumbing, sewer repairs, seismic retrofitting, hot water heater, furnace, roof and gutters, painting, etc. Even if your credit is less-than-perfect, you may be eligible to borrow money and avoid dishonest, predatory lenders and unscrupulous contractors. See the various programs available at

http://www.oaklandnet.com/government/hcd/loansgrants/rehab.html or call (510) 238-3909 for our brochure and application package.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why Red Cross?

I have been volunteering with the Red Cross for over a year now. I was inspired to get involved after Hurricane Katrina wiped out New Orleans. This past year I have worked in the Client Services department and on the Disaster Action Team.

Many people are under the impression that the RC just assists with large disasters - hurricanes, floods, etc.. Well, that is a very big part of the Red Cross but we also assist in local disasters - mainly fires. Here is an example of the calls we took in May:

Alameda County volunteers responded to 10 incidents in May:

May 1 Single family residence fire, Oakland 6 clients assisted

May 6 Apartment fire, Hayward 20 clients assisted

May 9 Duplex fire, Oakland 2 clients assisted

May 12 Apartment fire, Oakland 21 clients assisted

May 14 Apartment fire, Oakland 2 clients assisted

May 16 Apartment fire, Berkeley 2 clients assisted

May 24 Single family residence repair, Oakland 1 client assisted

May 25 Single family residence fire, Oakland 4 clients assisted

May 28 Apartment fire, Hayward 110 clients assisted

May 28 Single family residence fire, Hayward 3 clients assisted

In the month of May, we helped over 100 people! And, this wasn't a particularly busy month. There are some months that we take over 20 calls due to fires.

The satisfaction I get from volunteering with the RC is being able to help somebody in a crisis situation. Letting that person take comfort in knowing that they are not alone and that I am here to help!

Ok, on a real estate tip - UPDATE YOUR HOME OR RENTER'S INSURANCE! Most of the people we assist do not have home or renter insurance. They wake up one day and everything they own is gone. Don't let that happen to you! Be smart.

Budgeting to Buy!!

If you want to buy a house, start by estimating what you can afford and making a budget to buy.

Many prospective buyers find it difficult to accumulate enough cash for a down payment, especially if they are saddled with heavy debt. With some discipline and creative strategies, you can probably come up with more cash than you think.

Check your current finances and investigate ways to save and raise extra funds:

- Write down your monthly income, savings, and spending. If you have a lot of high-interest credit debt, try to move your balances to cheaper cards and plan to spend a year paying off as much of that debt as possible.

- Identify your long-term financial goals. Owning a house may be one, saving enough for retirement may be another.

- Make a home-buying savings plan. Open a savings account just for this purpose and make regular deposits, even if you put asidejust $20 a week.

- Look for other sources of down payment funds, such as a Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA). First-time buyers now have access to $10,000 of these funds penalty-free under certain conditions.

- Cut back on non-essential spending. Your friends and relatives will understand that you can't spend $20 to go to dinner and the movies if you say you're saving to buy a house. Your children will understand, too. In fact, saving to buy a house can be a family activity.

- Make saving for a house fun. Chart your progress on paper and post it somewhere to remind yourself of your goal.

Raising the Money : 20 ways to come up with a down payment

1. Ask your parents, other relatives or friends for help. If they can't give or loan any money, perhaps they'll agree to co-sign the loan. 2. Sell (or borrow against) other real estate you own.

3. Sell securities you own, or borrow against them through a loan from the stock brokerage. 4. Sell collectibles or heirlooms you own. 5. Cash in (or borrow against) the built-up value of any life insurance you have. 6. Withdraw money from your IRA. If you're a first-time buyer you can pull out $10,000 penalty-free (though you must pay state and federal income tax on it) to put toward your home purchase. If you're not a first-time buyer, pull out the very least amount you must. Otherwise, you will have to pay both the 10 percent penalty and income tax on an early withdrawal. 7. Borrow against your retirement funds. In some cases, the rate on the loan may be as small as 2 percent. If you add too much to your debt burden, however, you may not be approved for a loan. 8. Ask for help from your church, synagogue or other nonprofit organization. Fannie Mae has a "3/2" loan program that allows you to make a 3 percent down payment if a bona fide nonprofit puts down the other 2 percent. 9. Sell a boat, RV or second car you own and use the cash for the down payment. 10. Get a second job. It'll help you raise cash, and the extra income will improve your chances of qualifying for a loan. You can quit later.

11. Look for an investment partner who'll put up some or all of the cash in an equity-sharing partnership. You make the monthly payments and the two of you split the eventual resale profits. 12. Change the withholding taxes, if permitted, on your salary in anticipation of higher deductions when you get a mortgage. Your take-home pay will increase, giving you more funds to put toward a down payment.

13. Look for loan programs such as VA or FHA that require little or nothing down. 14. Use a lease option that lets you rent the house now and buy it after you save. 15. Look for a home with an assumable loan. Instead of buying out the owner's equity, ask the seller to carry back a second mortgage for an equal amount. That way you can buy the home without a down payment. 16. Pawn something you own and use the proceeds for a down payment. You can get the item back after you've moved in and can afford to pay the pawnbroker back. 17. Refinance your car or other vehicles and add the proceeds to your down payment. 18. Offer something other than cash (a car, boat, or collectibles) to the seller in lieu of a cash down payment. 19. Offer your services or expertise to the seller in lieu of a down payment. Some examples include $10,000 worth of auto services if you're a mechanic, dental work if you're a dentist, desktop publishing services if you're a designer, artwork if you're an artist or legal work if you're an attorney. 20. Look for foreclosure properties that require little or no down payment. Some lenders and government agencies will let you buy a foreclosure with no down payment if your credit is good and they're anxious to have the home occupied, or if you have skills (carpentry, landscaping or even painting) that you can use to increase the home's value.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

17006 Via Perdido, San Lorenzo - OPEN SUNDAY

I am holding this house open today! This home offers 3 bedrooms, 1 remodeled bath and is located in a very quiet neighborhood. The lovely kitchen leads out to the dining area which then spills out to the backyard oasis! A Gorgeous garden, waterfall/pond and mature fruit trees awaits you.

Other features include:
-oak hardwood floors
-dual pane windows
-new interior paint
-accessible to freeways/bart/shopping