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Getting the Home Lending Process Started | Advice from Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry, Vanguard Properties, San Francisco

Starting the Financing Process

While there’s more to come for sure, we wanted to give you the first steps in tacking the home mortgage application process which will most likely be the most annoying part of the entire home buying process. 

HUNT+GATHER

A lender will only speak in generalities until they see your paperwork as they need documentation, documentation and more documentaion.  So you should start by gathering these materials and you should keep the originals and PDF them as you’ll have to send these materials in at least a few times. 

If you have any questions about documents or special circumstances it’s best to CALL your lender rep versus emailing them. 

Last 2 years of W–2s &1040s for self–employed and/or tax returns (personal & business returns 

FILED (e.g., 1120, Sched. K–1) Last 2 pay stubs & employer verification/ability to do so easily; year-end pay statements, 2 years

Last 2 months bank statements (checking, savings, IRA, Money Market, etc)

Credit report fee (banks pull their own), you could provide your own to avoid multiple inquiries but they'll eventually get their own 

Photo I.D. (Driver’s License, Passport, Green Card, etc.) (VA letter/certification)

Landlord contact information 12 months proof of rent payments; i.e., canceled checks, statements, etc.

If you’re getting RSUs, vesting schedule showing award amounts and payouts

Gift Letter from relatives/investors; don’t forget they can ‘loan’ you money through forgivable loans 

All cash? Funds verification/bank statement

Changing jobs? Offer letter from new employer (potentially, 1 pay stub from pay cycle of new employer) 

For current homeowners: current mortgage statement/sales contract

Various HUD & lender application materials

Whatever underwriting requests Explanatory letter for any special cases or situations

LENDER HERE, LENDER THERE, WHICH ONE?

There’s much more than mortgage rate when it comes to getting a mortgage. While it might not seem like it, you are still ultimately a consumer who chooses where to take your business. In evaluating who you want to do your loan, here are some of the fine-print details that can set one loan apart from another: 

  • Origination points (i.e., lender fees to even do the loan) 
  • Post-close reserve requirements, if any (i.e., cash on deposit even after you close escrow) 
  • Early repayment penalties, if any  (that make refinancing or early sales less advantageous) 
  • Number of appraisals required for your purchase, even if it’s not a contingency (if each appraisal costs close to $1,000 . . .)
  • Escrow duration, as in how long it will take for them to close the purchase from when the offer is accepted to when we have keys
  • Reputation and ethics 
  • How vigorous their underwriting is and how forgiving they are 
  • Down payment requirements (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 percent?) 
  • How often credit is pulled (and how long a credit report lasts) 
  • If a lender is willing to have a second mortgage with their first mortgage 
A Mortgage Calculator (Just the Mortgage)

Yes, San Francisco and the Bay Area are expensive places to buy property. Good thing that there are lots of ways to buy a home. While cash is king, all-cash offers aren’t always the offers that win. We will explore some of the potential options for financing your purchase later one, but here is the documentation that most lenders will want to review. Remember your circumstances will be different so be aware of that.  

What Questions Can We Answer? 

There’s a lot to digest here we know. Feel free to ping us if you have someting you'd like to ask us. 

FOLKS WHO CAN HELP

We’ve worked with a lot of folks who have helped our clients get their homes. Reach out to them to see if they’d be a match for you. 

Conventional Purchases, Houses, Condos, Multi-Unit

Tony Alencar
Citibank
NMLS # 484714
Home Lending Officer
Cell: (415) 215-1239
[email protected]

Bridge, Portfolio, Unconventional

Patrick D Skovran
Boston Private
NMLSR #453408
SVP Market Leader – Residential Lending
415.806.8980 cell
415.402.3140 office
[email protected]

Conventional Purchases

Sean Patrick Farrell
Wells Fargo
NMLSR ID 507300
Home Mortgage Consultant
500 12th St, Suite 150
Oakland, CA 94607
MAC A0202-011
Tel: 510-267-1315
[email protected]

Mortgage Broker/Portfolio

Peter Barnes
RPM Mortgage
NMLS # 239580
1385 Shattuck Avenue unit B
Berkeley, CA 94709
Office # 510.647.5326
Cell # 415.302.3398
[email protected]

Construction, Purchase and Renovation, Development, Mortgage Broker

Connie Buchanan
Stephanie Hoff
California Real Estate Loans
NMLS #241170 & DRE #01200004
APMC dba California Real Estate Loans, Inc.
600 N San Mateo Dr, San Mateo, CA 94401
Cell: 415-999-2172
Tel: 650-342-4466
Fax: 650-342-9504
[email protected]

Unconventional, Investment, Remodel

Leman J Woo
Loan Depot
NMLS # 916227
Senior Loan Consultant
700 Airport Boulevard Suite 280
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 993-7580 office
(415) 812-2934 cell
[email protected]

What Else? 

See more on the topic.

Paying for it All: San Francisco Financed Purchases + Mortgages Considered By Kevin and Jonathan

Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry of Vanguard Properties, San Francisco, consider some of the financing products they and their clients have encountered when buying and selling property in San Francisco over the past few years including fixed mortgages, adjustable ones and exotic ones — each suited for a given property and offering situation.

Better Buying: How A Financed Offer Can Still Win in San Francisco's Competitive Real Estate Market

How to win property in San Francisco while still getting a mortgage: non-contingent financing. Top tips from Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry, Vanguard Properties, San Francisco

Yes, It's possible to buy for less than 20 percent down

Think a 20% down payment is the only way to buy property in San Francisco? Think Again. There are many mortgage programs out there that allow you to get into a home now while rates are low and appreciation potential remains strong in San Francisco. Advice from Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry, Vanguard Properties

General Information Only.

Remember that the advice above is just for information only and that your situation, circumstances are unique to you and that you should consult a financial professional before proceeding with any application for credit. Things in the financial sector can and do change with little or no notice, so keep current. Also, referrals above are to lending professionals we’ve worked with previously but that we receive no consideration, rebate or otherwise from the folks listed above. You must make the right choice for you exercising your own judgment and assessment. 

HELLO.

Hi, we’re Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry of Vanguard Properties in San Francisco, California. We’re partners in life and in business. Together with our big black Labrador retriever, Raffi, we are top producing Realtors in San Francisco’s competitive and valuable residential real estate market.

We truly love what we do and are passionately committed to our clients, their needs and advancing their interests. We represent both buyers and sellers with many repeat clients but we are always expanding our client base. Our belief is that by working with you you will make better informed decisions in this most important of areas of life.

We invite you to contact us to learn more and to start your success story now.

SOME STUFF TO KNOW.

To that extent possible, the information here is copyright protected. But other information such as links, articles and the like are only reproduced here for market education purposes. Remember to research all matters discussed here to your own satisfaction.

Terms & Conditions

Real estate is always changing and evolving. It's complex and can be as fickle as it is surprising. And while the information and knowledge on this site is considered to be accurate and correct, it cannot be warranted. Market conditions in San Francisco, California, and the world can change with a tweet or a sneeze and is beyond anyone's control.

In San Francisco, things like local, state and federal tax regulations can change with big implications. Other things like rent control rules, eviction control, lending practices and standards, building and zoning regulations are just a few of the other things that can change with little or no notice. All of these things and other intangible factors can and will impact market values and performance. 

Kevin is a licensed California attorney but focuses on real estate about 99.9 percent of the time. It's important to note that while you can’t take the attorney out of him he will not be acting as your attorney here. This speaks to the larger point that you should also seek out qualified folks who work in their respective sectors if you have further questions. 

Privacy Cookies. Mmm. Cookies. 

We’ve been told that our website may be using cookies — the electronic ones — not the ones that Cookie Monster loves. These cookies, tracking pixels and related technologies are small data files that emanate from our server or platform and are stored on your device or browser.

Our site uses cookies developed by third parties for a variety of purposes with the most important ones to us being focused on supporting our abilities to support our clients — current and future — as they look for San Francisco real estate services.

Also, cookies may also be used to track how you use our site, which, of course, may give rise to seeing related advertisements on other websites you visit. To comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act, we have deployed various measures you may see on this site. If you have a question or concern, feel free to contact us at [email protected]. We want you to be aware that your personal information stays private with us with SSL standards here among other protocols we employ. 

TELL EVERYONE.

SEARCH THE SITE.

©  2011-2020, Kevin Ho, Jonathan McNarry, RTI, Inc.

All rights reserved.


Kevin K. Ho, DRE 01875957/SBN 233408

Jonathan B. McNarry, DRE 01747295

Vanguard Properties
2501 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
555 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

Yes, It’s possible to buy for less than 20 percent down

Twenty Percent Or Less!

The Details.

As buyers get more sophisticated by taking a bigger-picture perspective, Kevin + Jonathan offer some advice.

Q+A

Less Than 20 Percent Down? Really? 

Very possible for sure and, in some cases, even more advantageous. 

Twenty Percent Or Less!

We got an email from one set of our new buyer clients thinking that they need to wait until later in the year to buy something or to start looking because they wanted to game the system to get a better mortgage. Here’s their message to us and our response... 

We've been doing research for a few weeks now, and our conclusion is that the homes we like need a bit more down payment than we're willing to spend currently. I think we'll restart our search in a few months...

And our response:

It’s a question of various factors: the longer you wait, interest rates could be that much higher which will make your monthly payments that much higher. Moreover, every time you pay rent, you’re dulling the impact of waiting to save up more money for a down payment. Also, unless there’s a huge down payment difference, the impact on your monthly mortgage payment won’t be that much bigger. Worry less about the purchase price and focus more on the monthly payment amounts as that's the amount you actually live with.  

Remember there are such things as Census Tract loans which only require anywhere from a 3% to 10% cash down payment, but those are for certain neighborhoods that the powers that be say need to be gentrified for a lack of a better word. Other programs like the VA and FHA loans don't really work here because the prices are too expensive. Other lenders like SoFi and even Citibank have done 10% or 11% down loans too but those programs can come and go. 

We think that you should really consider using a less-than-20% down payment mortgage. After all, at least with Citi, you won’t have to pay mortgage insurance premiums (which isn’t usually tax deductible like mortgage interest is) and you will get into a house that much sooner. Beyond that, however, even if you do have the 20% down payment there may be other reasons to use a 15% down loan.   

Which are ones we can tell you when you contact us. 

You Know You Want to Learn More.

We have all kinds of insights, so you should go ahead and contact us to learn how we can help you do the most optimal thing (or least as close to that as possible).

Getting the Home Lending Process Started | Advice from Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry, Vanguard Properties, San Francisco

The home lending process is one that takes time, effort and oftentimes is fraught with questions. Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry, realtors who have helped many buyers win homes and purchase them using a mortgage, give some observations about what works in San Francisco.

Paying for it All: San Francisco Financed Purchases + Mortgages Considered By Kevin and Jonathan

Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry of Vanguard Properties, San Francisco, consider some of the financing products they and their clients have encountered when buying and selling property in San Francisco over the past few years including fixed mortgages, adjustable ones and exotic ones — each suited for a given property and offering situation.

HELLO.

Hi, we’re Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry of Vanguard Properties in San Francisco, California. We’re partners in life and in business. Together with our big black Labrador retriever, Raffi, we are top producing Realtors in San Francisco’s competitive and valuable residential real estate market.

We truly love what we do and are passionately committed to our clients, their needs and advancing their interests. We represent both buyers and sellers with many repeat clients but we are always expanding our client base. Our belief is that by working with you you will make better informed decisions in this most important of areas of life.

We invite you to contact us to learn more and to start your success story now.

SOME STUFF TO KNOW.

To that extent possible, the information here is copyright protected. But other information such as links, articles and the like are only reproduced here for market education purposes. Remember to research all matters discussed here to your own satisfaction.

Terms & Conditions

Real estate is always changing and evolving. It's complex and can be as fickle as it is surprising. And while the information and knowledge on this site is considered to be accurate and correct, it cannot be warranted. Market conditions in San Francisco, California, and the world can change with a tweet or a sneeze and is beyond anyone's control.

In San Francisco, things like local, state and federal tax regulations can change with big implications. Other things like rent control rules, eviction control, lending practices and standards, building and zoning regulations are just a few of the other things that can change with little or no notice. All of these things and other intangible factors can and will impact market values and performance. 

Kevin is a licensed California attorney but focuses on real estate about 99.9 percent of the time. It's important to note that while you can’t take the attorney out of him he will not be acting as your attorney here. This speaks to the larger point that you should also seek out qualified folks who work in their respective sectors if you have further questions. 

Privacy Cookies. Mmm. Cookies. 

We’ve been told that our website may be using cookies — the electronic ones — not the ones that Cookie Monster loves. These cookies, tracking pixels and related technologies are small data files that emanate from our server or platform and are stored on your device or browser.

Our site uses cookies developed by third parties for a variety of purposes with the most important ones to us being focused on supporting our abilities to support our clients — current and future — as they look for San Francisco real estate services.

Also, cookies may also be used to track how you use our site, which, of course, may give rise to seeing related advertisements on other websites you visit. To comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act, we have deployed various measures you may see on this site. If you have a question or concern, feel free to contact us at [email protected]. We want you to be aware that your personal information stays private with us with SSL standards here among other protocols we employ. 

TELL EVERYONE.

SEARCH THE SITE.

©  2011-2020, Kevin Ho, Jonathan McNarry, RTI, Inc.

All rights reserved.


Kevin K. Ho, DRE 01875957/SBN 233408

Jonathan B. McNarry, DRE 01747295

Vanguard Properties
2501 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
555 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

Better Buying: How A Financed Offer Can Still Win in San Francisco’s Competitive Real Estate Market

Better Buying

SUCCESSFUL REAL ESTATE BUYING IN THE LAND OF SILICON, BREAD BOWLS AND GOLDEN GATES

How to Win that Property While Getting a Mortgage 

FROM THOSE WHO DID IT

Kevin is fantastic — highly recommend

We worked with Kevin as buying agent and he was superb. He invested considerable time and energy to help us understand how the market and process here works (quite different vs UK) and is super-responsive, even to late-night emails/texts which was great due to our work commitments. Importantly, he had great suggestions and advice on making our offer compelling, helping us secure the property we really wanted despite not being all-cash nor the highest offer.

— Ross & Sarah M.

Successful Buyers, Noe Valley 

Yes, you too can compete with the all-cash buyers in San Francisco’s residential real estate market. Here’s how it works.

Putting an offer on a house without any contingencies while still getting a loan may seem like a scary prospect — an offer with non-contingent financing. What if the loan doesn’t come through? Would you run the risk of possibly losing your deposit? Scary questions indeed but we’ve had many, many buyers win properties who weren’t all-cash without having to rely on a financing contingency. It can be done. And here’s why this seemingly impossible strategy works.

When a lender is evaluating a mortgage applicant they will look at 2 primary factors: the property at hand (and the proposed purchase price) and the borrower’s creditworthiness (FICO score, income verification and debt-to-income ratios). While you may not even know what the property will look like or even where it is, you do have control over your portion of the underwriting process by getting fully underwritten before even making an offer.

First, Let’s Talk About You.

By getting fully underwritten first before making an offer you’ll front-load the underwriting process by getting your part out of the way. In order to do that you’ll get what we called the “super approval.” That will involve giving the lender the materials that prove your ability to pay the mortgage you’re applying for. Those materials include the following:

  • 2 years of filed tax returns (they will check with the IRS independently)
  • Your last paystub + employment verification
  • Proof of funds for the deposit and down payments in the form of Bank and account statements for savings, money market and retirement accounts
  • Copies of rent checks for a year or two (mortgage payment records if you own)
  • Explanation letters of any special circumstances
  • If you’ve just gotten a new job, you’ll need the offer letter and the first pay stub
  • If you’re getting a gift, a gift funds letter with proof of funds

That should take care of the first half of the two-step process. Now for the second half of the equation….

And About That House You Want…

As for the property itself, the underwriting process evaluates the property by an appraisal by a certified and licensed appraiser who walks the property, takes notice of nearby similar properties (comparable sales) and compares how the property stacks up against those others. Most times properties’ will appraise at the contract price even as prices keep pushing upwards. If a property fails to appraise for the contract price then a buyer must make up the difference between what the lender was to supposed to contribute the purchase and what the appraisal says they can give. This is the case because the lender will be most likely paying a percentage of the purchase price rather than an exact amount they’re going to pay. So instead of lending $800,000 of a $1M purchase the lender is really lending 80% of the purchase price, which is the golden ratio that lenders will want and the maximum amount a bank will lend before a borrower has to pay expensive mortgage insurance premiums. The appraisal becomes a moot point if your down payment is large enough to make up any shortfall prospectively. In this case if you put down more than 20% — say 22% or 25% — then there’s that much of a cushion.

But what if something pops up with the appraisal or otherwise that the underwriting gets halted? It would have to be very significant or severe enough to stop a lender in its tracks. Contingency-free offers also usually mean (if not contain addenda stating so) that the property is being bought “as-is.” This doesn’t mean, however, that a buyer is left without options if this pops up. Sellers are nevertheless obligated to disclose any material fact that would impact a buyer’s decision to purchase a property and/or have an impact on what price a buyer would be willing to pay for a property. So if there is something bad enough to stop a lender from approving a property that is not related to value, then it must be something that may rise to the point of being a material fact that was later discovered or disclosed, which may give you more than a reasonable basis to cancel the purchase, or at least an opening to talk it over again.

 

There’s a lot more nuance and details to go over which is why Kevin+Jonathan are here for you just as they are for their clients. Give them us a call or text today at (415) 297-7462 or (415) 215-4393 or email us at [email protected] or [email protected]


In 2015 Our Real Estate Clients of Kevin+Jonathan Bought for Less and Sold for More in San Francisco, Data Shows

How Do You Do? How Real Estate Clients of Kevin+Jonathan Did In San Francisco in 2015

2015 is done and in 2015 real estate clients of realtors Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry of Vanguard Properties outperformed their peers in San Francisco’s ‘crazy’ real estate market. Take a look below to see how and if you want to know the ‘why’ contact the pair today.

Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry's track record for their San Francisco real estate buyers and sellers in 2015.

See how our real estate clients fared in San Francisco’s 2015 real estate market.

BOTH OUR BUYERS AND SELLERS did very well in 2015 and clients who worked with Kevin+Jonathan outperformed their peers working with other agents when compared to MLS average and median figures for 2015. Some take away points analysis of the year gone by show:

  1. For buyers, cash wasn’t king in 2015 and being the top-priced offer wasn’t necessarily the offer that won in the end as the being the best offer for the circumstances was far more important
  2. Nearly all of our buyers used financing and still won their San Francisco property; few of them had financing contingencies however
  3. Our buyers paid an average of 7.7 percent over a property’s list price as buyers saw more overage com
  4. Our sellers sold an average of 26 percent over a property’s list price
  5. San Francisco’s property prices grew modestly compared to a year ago with condo price appreciation outpacing single-family homes prices slightly with both hovering around a 12 percent annual gain.

Our best performing listing this year took place at 1072 Noe Street over the summer of 2015, which was featured on SF Curbed.

Noe Valley's top fixer in 2015 sold by Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry

Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry of Vanguard Properties fetch nearly $1M over asking price for this fixer at 24th and Noe Streets in San Francisco

You may remember it was the large fixer that we priced properly at $1,898,000 (which was already gutsy and aggressive). There were attempts to approach the sellers early by others. The top off-market value offered for the 1800+ sqft, massive fixer house that stretched well into the mandated setback, expandable attic and garage/lower level  (which was bought in 1965 for a mere $25,000) was $1.8M. Even our broker said we’d be having a good day if our sellers got offers over $2M. We were undeterred and after we worked with the family who owned the property — clearing out 8 years weeds, 40 years of personal effects long forgotten, and clearing up legal, title and tax issues, we marketed the property to a very specific set of buyers. And when all 6 offers came in after just one weekend of open houses (none of them below $2.15M) with the top two being tied at $2.8M. 1072 Noe closed $2.8M, some 47% over the list price at over $1550/sqft for a fixer.  We still get calls from agents and would-be sellers alike as to how we took a house that sat empty for 7 years and got a record price without staging or remodeling.

Ask Kevin+Jonathan about how we tailor our experience, energy and knowledge to help you win in your San Francisco situation today by calling (415) 297-7462 or (415) 215-4393 or complete our intake form here today.

 

 

The Official Line on the LineaSF

LineaSF Update

Just as yours truly got a sneak peek at The Century SF this week, another new, triangular-shaped condo building, is also taking shape. Here’s the latest from Linnea SF:

Delivery of Linea homes is tentatively scheduled for late Jan/Early Feb 2014 according to our contact there.

How To Get In First

The best positioning for would-be buyers is to reach out to someone like yours truly and we can then approach and secure a pre-qualification where the lender could do a rate lock. The sales office is reportedly doing a soft open this weekend and should be open to the public shortly thereafter.

Preferred Lender List

In case you don’t remember in condos and especially new condos, at least for the first half of sales — maybe even more than 1/2 the units — folks financing a purchase will have to use one of the lenders listed. From the list below, you get the usual suspects.

Why these folks only?
You might be asking yourself how come. Here’s how I understand it: other lenders will not fund on a building where one party — here, the developer — owns the majority of the units. It all has to do with debt obligations and priority of creditors should things go really South. Those other creditors may get first dibs and whatever assets can be liquidated leaving the other smaller ones with nothing.

Jackie Yi, Mortgage Consultant, Builder Division
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
201 Mission St, Suite 2200
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: 415-247-1293
Cell: 510-847-4795
Fax: 866-944-7350
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.wfhm.com/jackie-yi
NMLS# 461964

Carrie Mickelson, Mortgage Advisor
Opes Advisors, Inc.
435 Pacific Avenue, Suite 350
San Francisco, CA 94133
Cell: 415-321-0722
Office: 415-321-6263
Fax: 866-593-7832
Email: [email protected]
NMLS # 360829

Michael Treon, Home Lending Specialist
Citibank
One Sansome Street, 23rd Floor
San Francisco CA 94104
Phone: 415-505-7558
E-FAX 877-340-5777
Email: [email protected]
NMLS # 339550
Deborah Byrne, VP, Retail Sales Manager

Bank of America
1455 Market Street, 14th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Mobile: 415-786-3705
E- Fax: 866-517-5149
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://mortgage.bankofamerica.com/deborahbyrne
NMLS#692071

20130726-150532.jpg

How High Will Mortgage Rates Go? – Businessweek

Rates are now up almost a quarter-point from the mid-November record low of 3.31 percent, but looking into the numbers, it’s clear that I shouldn’t be worried. Mortgage rates will be going up over the next two years—but not too fast, according to the most recent forecast by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

via How High Will Mortgage Rates Go? – Businessweek.

Big Changes to Short Sale Practices Announced

New Lending Short Sale Standards Coming

From the California Association of Realtors

Thhe Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will realign guidelines for Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-based short sales allowing lenders and servicers to qualify short sale borrower/buyers for a short sale quicker and easier.

Here are some specific changes that are effective Nov. 1, 2012:

Eliminates current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sale programs and creates a single standard short sale process for both entities (Fannie and Freddie HAFA programs will expire at the end of the year).

Enables servicers to quickly and easily qualify certain borrowers who are current on their mortgages for short sales without waiting for an approval from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
Offers special treatment for military personnel with Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.

Standardizes and clarifies foreclosure suspensions on a property with an approved short sale.

May pay borrowers up to $3,000 in relocation assistance.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer up to $6,000 to subordinate lien holders to expedite a short sale.

Additionally, FHFA clarified that a borrower experiencing a hardship must wait at least two years before becoming eligible for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan.

These changes follow FHFA’s announcement in June that established strict timelines for servicers to respond to short sales within 30 days of receipt of a short sale offer, provide weekly status updates to the borrower, and communicate a final decision to the borrower within 60 days of receipt of the offer.

Essential iPad utilities for realtors and consumers alike

IPad Tools that Can Help Buyers and Realtors Alike Navigate the Field

A lot of my clients and folks who I meet at open houses always ask me what apps I use when I’m in the field. Realtors often ask the same type of questions too given the fact that I am the agent with the reputation of taking videos, photos and video conferencing during an open house or on broker tour for absent clients. Because I’m in the field a lot I’ve had a good chance to suss out the apps that work best for me. Of course everyone will have divergent opinions, but here are mine.

Is Anyone There?

One fundamental question we should address first: Namely, how do I get to these apps while away from a Wi-Fi zone?

For the past few weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to finagle and use a loaner iPad with AT&T’s LTE 4G service. At first, I was a little skeptical because of upload speeds, reception issues and all the other complaints I had about the original 3G iPhone.

But since then, I’ve grown to be rely upon this mobile accessibility as a utility. Either it’s improving in speed and coverage, I’m growing more patient, or a combination of the two; probably the latter as I am the inpatient type.

Verdict: it got better. Being able to access MLS data through Safari, being able to access dropbox documents easily, updating my website, social media and, of course, being able to use the apps I’m going to talk about here is addictive.

(Note: AT&T does prevent an LTE enabled iPad to tether – i.e., creating your own Wi-Fi hotspot using the LTE network as doing so would cannibalize their for-fee data plans).

Because Wi-Fi networks are not yet ubiquitous throughout the city unlike places like Mountain View, we’ll have to rely upon these LTE-equipped devices or other solutions such as mobile hotspot using LTE networks in the interim as these applications push and receive large amounts of data.

Now, for those apps.

I use three categories of applications when I’m out and about.

First, is notetaking; next, is reporting and dissemination; and last, are further research applications.

Penultimate – this is the simplest of all apps as it mimics having a notebook with you using your finger or stylus as a pen, marker or eraser. It allows you to select different types of “paper” like graph paper or wallpaper as well as allowing you to have different colors of “marker.” This app is great for those walk-through inspections, initial meetings, or times we need to draw something on the spot. The good thing is that you can PDF the documents and email them straight away from the app itself.

Notes – this is the native notetaking application in the iOS suite. It’s simple, a bit annoying when you enter addresses as it’ll automatically link them to maps, but nice to use because you can use Siri or the iPad version of Siri when taking notes. Again good for those thoughts that occur to you while you’re driving or when you need to dictate a long email or note like this one for example. But it does get a bit buggy when notes go on for a long time – better to use separate small notes. And, if you synchronize it with iCloud will have access to your notes on your desktops and email like. Also, Dragon Dictation is a great option for non-dictation-enabled devices.

Photos and Camera – self-explanatory really. Having the ability to take pictures for clients, colleagues and yourself, is essential for visual thinkers like yours truly. That said, always practice ethics when taking these types of pictures because some people will definitely mind if you do. Be sure you get permission first. One important thing is to have a photo editing application that is not your Instagram novelty type of application. Being able to crop, adjust brightness and contrast and save those changes is important. The simplest and easiest tool I’ve used is PS Express from Adobe. It essentially accomplishes all the above with the options of enhancing a photo even more. Also good that you can email and edited photo for save the photo to your camera roll

Magic Plan – this application uses your camera to take photos of a room that essentially will be able to be translated into – well, a floor plan. The application takes some getting used to and calibration. It’s continually improving by adding new features like adding photos and being able to compile all the plans into something cohesive. You can spend a lot of time trying to get this right – or you can still ask an expert plan maker to do it right the first time.

Face time
– using this or Skype gives you the opportunity of being able to bring clients or relatives of clients into a place that they can’t make in person. Still the technology and network capacity is developing to meet the types of challenges streaming video and audio present, but Iimagine one day we will be able to broadcast 3-D – isn’t that a thought. The one thing I would say is it recording and or broadcasting video from the iPad camera is a bit cumbersome. Disconcerting also is that the default camera view is extreme close up!

Moving on into the research category explicitly there are two apps I especially rely upon: My Theo and Realtor.com.

My Theo is realtor-only tool for now in San Francisco but is one created by former realtors who lived and worked in the city. It’s attractive, graphical and easy to use application that was designed for realtors and consumers alike. It allows you to browse the MLS by map and access current information seamlessly. It also shows past market data, analytics and integrates broker tour an open house times as well. The latest version the good folks there have released allows agents to import and begin using customer relation management tools from iPad contacts. Plans are the works for a web accessible version for consumers and I’m sure the future is bright for these guys.

Realtor.com this is the granddaddy of the in-the-field, on-the-market apps. Why? It could do with that realtor.com has been pushed by the National Association of Realtors, who would arguably have the most access to the most MLS databases throughout the country.

Did I mention it’s free?

That said the information is a little truncated by design so that you will call your helpful agent to learn more. One example is that it won’t allow you to search for homes in or out of contract separately. The app allows you to share, browse, and do limited research for market comparables in a given area either defined by the user on a map or through GPS. It integrates GPS to create saved searches that can be e-mailed to you on a daily basis.

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Housing Exuberance Led by Shiller’s U.S. Glamorous Cities – Bloomberg

Housing Exuberance Led by Shiller’s U.S. Glamorous Cities - Bloomberg

In San Francisco, [residential real estate] prices are being driven up by the soaring technology industry. In May, a record 211,400 people were employed in the city’s professional services sector, which includes computer design, an increase of 12,400 positions from a year earlier, according to the California Employment Development Department. Jobs in health care and private education services, leisure and hospitality also had larger-than-normal annual increases….

via Housing Exuberance Led by Shiller’s U.S. Glamorous Cities – Bloomberg.

What are Those Underwriters Doing?

Freddie/Fannie/FHA Lending Guidelines

So most escrows are being held up thus delaying closings. Why? Underwriting since the housing crisis has swung the other way – almost perversely so. Underwriters will now scrutinize every transfer, dollar and cent of your down payment again and again. Underwriters will verify every link and every statement entry. Yes, all of them!

Nevertheless here they are:
Fannie Mae Selling Guide copy

Refis on underwater jumbo loans nearly impossible – SFGate

One of the reasons why there’s so very little inventory now: Refis on underwater jumbo loans nearly impossible – SFGate.

Facebook effect on SF housing market – May. 17, 2012

You can argue against these absurdly high valuations all you want but thousands of liquid millionaires are being created before and after these firms go public — and the impact on our property market is real.

via Facebook effect on SF housing market – May. 17, 2012.

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