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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Real Estate Loans: The Fed

Dean C. Piller by GRI Instructor Dean C. Piller
Teaches GRI Course 109 - Residential Real Estate Finance, West Los Angeles College Instructor, Mortgage Broker
View future classes taught by Dean C. Piller

The Fed, also known as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) wrapped up its monetary policy meeting Wednesday, keeping, as anticipated, the federal funds rate at a 0 to 0.25% target range as inflation risk remains subdued.

The FOMC indicated positive developments since its August meeting, although it plans to extend certain securities- and debt-purchasing programs into 2010.

"Conditions in financial markets have improved further [since August], and activity in the housing sector has increased," FOMC members wrote. "Household spending seems to be stabilizing, but remains constrained by ongoing job losses, sluggish income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit."

What does this mean? In a nutshell, even though the economy is showing signs of recovery from the recession, interest rates have remained low, and in fact, have gone down over that last few days. When inflation is in check, rates go down. When inflation rears its ugly head, which we expect to have at some point, rates are going to take off.

We advise that if you or your clients are thinking about refinancing or purchasing, this would be a good time to get off the fence. Interest rates are in the mid to high 4's for a 30 year fixed loan. What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

File this one under "Is nothing sacred anymore?"

Jerry Kidd by GRI Instructor Jerry Kidd, GRI, CRS, CRB
Teaches GRI Course 107 - Real Property, Tax and Exchanging
View future classes taught by Jerry Kidd

It seems that the New York Times has implemented an automated method for advertisers to submit ads that the Times then runs on it's web site. The way it works is that an advertiser fills in a form and pays for it with a credit card and voila! Instant ad.

It all sounds perfectly harmless until you factor in these thoughts: Hackers have bought ad space on the NYT site, placed links in the ad to malicious websites and paid for the ads with stolen credit cards! Once the ad is placed, it shows up as a pop up to an unsuspecting visitor to the times web site. If you are running Windows you run the risk of being infected by the rogue sites that the pop up takes you to. It's not even necessary for you to click on anything to get infected.

So, what should you do? First of all, it's sheer folly to be operating a Windows machine without keeping your anti-malware suite up to date. You do run a security suite don't you?

Second, be sure to enable automatic updates inside of Windows so that all of the Microsoft fixes, patches and repairs to it's operating system get installed on your computer. These updates happen weekly and sometimes more frequently, so it's important to stay current.

To read a little more on this and to see a picture of what one of the pop ups looks like, read this article.

I don't think that this problem is unique to the New York Times, and I am sure that we will see more of this in the near future. Keep those computers updated!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Commission-Free Real Estate

Michael Soon Lee by GRI Instructor Michael Soon Lee, MBA, CSP, CRS, GRI

Author: "111 Ways to Justify Your Commission" and "Black Belt Negotiating"

Most brokers and agents are aware that consumers hate paying real estate commissions because they feel they are too high and that we don't earn them. To deal with this miss perception some progressive brokers are beginning to look into alternatives to commission-based real estate models.

Since 1985 I have been helping real estate professionals develop hourly and flat fee compensation systems that they can offer clients in addition to traditional commissions. These plans have helped me get more listing appointments because they have the potential to save sellers money. This is because real estate commissions tend to be higher than necessary to compensate brokers who waste time and money on deals that don't close.

While alternative compensation models can be attractive to both clients and brokers you'll want to seek professional advice before implementing one. For instance, one of the most commonly requested "unbundled service" is from a seller who has found a buyer for his house and just wants a broker to write the purchase agreement. While tempting, this would be practicing law without a license because the only people who can just write a contract for a fee are licensed attorneys. Agents and brokers can only write contracts as part of a real estate transaction and how many other services in addition to writing the contract would be required to avoid this problem has yet to be determined.

However, since the real estate meltdown alternative compensation models are becoming much more popular since sellers have less equity with which to pay commissions. In my next blog I'll talk about why brokers hate to be paid by commission as well.

Friday, September 18, 2009

California GRI classes for the week of Sept. 21

GRI Schedule

Pleasanton - Sep 23 (Wed) - GRI #108 GRI Risk Managem...
Visalia - Sep 23 (Wed) - GRI #112 Environmental Co...
Bakersfield - Sep 23 (Wed) - GRI #109 Residential Real...
Fresno - Sep 24 (Thu) - GRI #108 GRI Risk Managem...
San Gabriel - Sep 25 (Fri) - GRI #102 Trust Fund Manag...
San Gabriel - Sep 25 (Fri) - GRI #104 Fair Housing...
San Diego - Sep 25 (Fri) - GRI #105 Legal Issues...

More information: All GRI schedules | How to Register | (888) 785-4800

Homebuyer Tax Credit Ends Soon - NAR Wants to Extend it

The $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit is ending in a short 2 months. To be exact, it ends on December 1, 2009. Many attribute the upswing in sales to the tax credit and are concerned that sales will be hurt once the credit expires.

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and other organizations, including the NAHB, are urging congress to extend the credit. NAR has created a Call for Action website where you can send a message to your congressperson and senator asking them to extend the credit expiration.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

California REALTOR® Expo 2009

California REALTOR® Expo 2009 is fast approaching. The three-day event will be held in San Jose on October 6-8 at the San Jose Convention Center.

This year's expo is sure to be a grand event for California's real estate professionals. The event offers educational courses, networking events, professional meetings and various real eatate product demonstrations held throughout the three days. There will be countless booths with priceless information to visit, as well. The cost to attend the expo is FREE for California REALTORS®. There are some fees to attend some special events like Tech Tuesday and various luncheons.

Don't miss the chance to expand your professional knowledge and network with peers at the CALIFORNIA REALTOR® EXPO 2009 in San Jose.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Got Facebook?

Jerry Kidd by GRI Instructor Jerry Kidd, GRI, CRS, CRB
Teaches GRI Course 107 - Real Property, Tax and Exchanging
View future classes taught by Jerry Kidd

If so, do you have a back up of your profile, friends and photos?

Just for fun, do a quick Google search on “lost facebook account”. You’ll see many items from people who have had issues with losing their Facebook accounts, so it’s not if it will happen, it’s merely a matter of when.

Just like with your computer. Only with Facebook, backing it up has been something of a mystery. Until now.

Head on over to SocialSafe.com, fork over $2.99 and get set up with their nifty Facebook backup software. It runs on the Adobe Air platform which is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 Mac OSX Tiger and Leopard so you can probably run it on your computer.

Once you pay your money you are emailed a License Key and given download and install instructions. The first time you run this on your profile it could take a while to complete depending on the number of photos that you have and how prolific you have been with status updates! So be patient.

It would be a royal pain for me to have to recreate all of my friends and profile information, so for a little less than 3 bucks I have bought some peace of mind.

And you might want to do that too!

Friday, September 11, 2009

California GRI classes for the week of Sept. 14

GRI Schedule

Anaheim - Sep 15 (Tue) - GRI #100 Agency Relations...
Anaheim - Sep 15 (Tue) - GRI #101 Ethics, Professi...
Torrance - Sep 15 (Tue) - GRI #105 Legal Issues...
Thousand Oaks - Sep 17 (Thu) - GRI #113 Real Property, T...
Antioch - Sep 17 (Thu) - GRI #109 Residential Real...

More information: All GRI schedules | How to Register | (888) 785-4800

Friday, September 4, 2009

California GRI Classes for the week of September 7

GRI Schedule

Laguna Hills - Sep 8 (Tue) - GRI #109 Residential Real...
Beverly Hills - Sep 9 (Wed) - GRI #106 Money Making Str...
San Luis Obispo - Sep 9 (Wed) - GRI #114 Essential Concep...
San Mateo - Sep 10 (Thu) - GRI #105 Legal Issues...
Vista - Sep 10 (Thu) - GRI #113 Real Property, T...
Sacramento - Sep 10 (Thu) - GRI #110 Marketing, Finan...

More information: All GRI schedules | How to Register | (888) 785-4800