How to Buy a House - What happens during the purchase process?

The following 35 steps describe all the steps that your REAL ESTATE TEAM (your Real Estate Agent, lender, and the title and escrow company) will perform so that your transaction is successful. After each description, you will see who is associated with that step, labeled in brackets.

These steps have been numbered to make the process easy to follow, although some of them may occur at the same time. Check with your Real Estate Agent or your lender if you need more detail or clarification.

1. Pre-approval and evaluation of your ­financing options [Lender]

2. The loan application form is completed [Lender]

3. Choosing the desired property, and presenting the purchase offer and the initial good-faith deposit [Real Estate Agent]

4. The transaction is started at the Title and Escrow Company [Title and Escrow Company]

5. Property inspections are ordered [Real Estate Agent]

6. Credit report and property value assessment are ordered [Lender]

7. The contract is reviewed with particular attention to the steps with specific dates [All team members]

8. The preliminary title report is reviewed and sent to the lender and the Real Estate Agent [Title and Escrow Company]

9. The disclosure reports are delivered to the buyer [Real Estate Agent]

10. The preliminary title report is reviewed [All team members]

11. The desired loan is selected [Lender]

12. The inspections are reviewed and/or the contingencies are eliminated [Real Estate Agent]

13. The contingencies are removed from the loan and the deposit is increased if necessary [Real Estate Agent]

14. Receipt of increased funds [Title and Escrow Company]

15. Final gathering of documents for loan approval [Lender]

16. The Escrow Agent ensures that the title report is free of errors and that it complies with any additional instructions [Title and Escrow Company]

17. The package is sent to the lender (risk assessor) for ­final approval [Lender]

18. Discussion about the selection of an agent for insurance against hidden defects [Real Estate Agent]

19. The loan is approved and the loan documents are ordered [Lender]

20. The loan documents are sent to the title company [Title and Escrow Company]

21. The property owner’s hidden defects insurance is ordered [Title and Escrow Company]

22. The closing date, and the required fi­nal balance needed to close the transaction, are confi­rmed [Real Estate Agent]

23. The Real Estate Agent gives fi­nal instructions for the closing [Real Estate Agent]

24. Final conditions of the loan are reviewed with the escrow agent [Lender]

25. The escrow instructions are formulated [Title and Escrow Company]

26. The escrow instructions are signed (by both Buyer and Seller) and the loan documents are also signed (by the Buyer) [Title and Escrow company]

27. The signed documents are returned to the lender along with the hidden defects insurance policy [Title and Escrow Company]

28. Final visit to the property [Real Estate Agent]

29. The loan ­le is reviewed [Lender]

30. The monetary exchange occurs [Lender]

31. The buyer deposits the funds balance in the escrow account [Title and Escrow Company]

32. The team decides that other measures are necessary for closing [All team members]

33. The documents are registered (the deed) at the county office [Title and Escrow company]

34. The transaction is closed. Final accounting: Checks are written and sent, a ­final account statement is produced,

and all parties are summoned and notified of the closing [Title and Escrow company]

35. The keys are handed to the new owner [Real Estate Agent]

Hope this in depth break down helps give you the confidence you need to buy a house, contact me if you have any questions!


Oliver Graf


How to Show Income When Getting A Home Loan - Mortgage Loan Help

Buying a New Home or Condo has been gaining momentum amongst First Time Home Buyers, Rehab Property Flippers, and Buy and Hold Cash Flow Investors.

When Buying a Home or Condo, you will want to get your loan pre-qualified first. Part of getting your home loan pre-approved is showing your income and how much house you can afford.

Watch this quick video where I interview a top loan consultant to explain the process of how to show income when getting a home loan.

To determine your maximum San Diego mortgage amount, lenders use guidelines called debt-to-income ratios. This is simply the percentage of your monthly income (before taxes) that is used to pay your monthly debts. Because there are two calculations, there is a "front" ratio and a "back" ratio and they are generally written in the following format: 33/38.

The front ratio is the percentage of your monthly income (before taxes) that is used to pay your housing costs, including principal, interest, taxes, insurance, mortgage insurance, and homeowners association fees (when applicable). The back ratio is the same thing, only it also includes your monthly consumer debt. Consumer debt can be car payments, credit card debt, installment loans, and similar related expenses. Auto or life insurance is not considered a debt.

These are just guidelines and they are flexible. If you make a larger down payment or have sterling credit, the guidelines are less rigid. The guidelines also vary according to loan program. FHA guidelines, VA guidelines, and Conventional Loan Guidelines all vary.

Whether you want to buy a high end home or a nice comfortable starter home, Oliver will be more than happy to assist you regardless of your budget.

Oliver Graf

Premium Service, Proven Results!


How to Buy a House Step 1 "Get Prequalified for Your Loan" - Real Estate Mortgage Prequal

When Buying a Property many people ask, what is the first step, Should I Get Pre-Qualified for a Loan first?

The answer is Definitely Yes! Before you start looking to purchase a new home or condo, you should review your finances, discuss your home loan options, figure out how much you can afford, and get pre-qualified. Getting Pre-qualified is a simple process thatwill put you in a much better position because you will have the confidence to move forward with a purchase and it will give you significantly more negotiating power when purchasing.

What does it take to get pre-qualified for your loan? Not as much as you might think... With a short phone conversation, we can briefly review information about your employment, debts, income, and assets. We can also look at your credit profile, discuss your down payment options, and cover the different loan programs that can work for you.

Once you get pre-qualified, your loan officer will give you what's called a Pre-Qualification Letter. This letter states that, as your loan officer, they have reviewed your finances and can get you qualified for a loan up to a certain amount. The whole process is simple and to the point,the paperwork is kept to a minimum, and generally your loan officer can provide most clients with a "Pre Qual letter" within about 15 minutes.

Once pre-qualified then you can go out and find the home or condo that catches your eye. Once you and you decide on "the one", being pre-qualified for your mortgage will do a couple of things. First, it lets you know in advance how much you can offer. Second, your real estate agent(me) wil submit your mortgage prequalification letter with your offer so that the seller knows that a lender has reviewed your situation and that you can afford the home.

It puts you in the best possible position and gives you the most negotiating power when buying a house, so make sure you get qualified in advance.

Contact me if you have any questions or need any help,

Oliver Graf

Real Estate Expert


How To Make Sure You Don't Over Pay When Buying A House

Local San Diego Realtor's and National Real Estate Speaker's Oliver Graf and Sam Khorramian reveal the secrets on making sure you don't pay too much when you buy a house or condo.

When buying a home, town house, condo, high rise unit, or an investment property, making sure you don't over pay is key.

Watch this quick video on "How To Make Sure You Don't Over Pay When Buying A House"

Some quick tips on how to make sure making sure you don't over pay when buying a house or condo.

- Be sure to throughly evaluate all the comps. Look at what is active, pending, and sold. Stay within half a mile of the subject property and only look at sold properties 3-6 months back at most.

- Drive the neighborhood and surrounding areas at different times of day so you get a feel for the "location". As they say real estate is all about "location, location, location".

-Find Out How Much the Seller Paid

-Determine the Seller's Mortgage Balance

-Look at how long (how many days) the home has been on the market.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me, Talk to you soon!

Have real estate questions?

To your Success,

Oliver Graf


How To Lower Your Real Estate Property Taxes...

How to lower your property taxes

Despite home prices in major urban centers decreasing 31 percent between 2005 and 2009, property taxes across the U.S. increased by nearly 20 percent. There is good news, however; homeowners can fight back.

Making sense of the story

- Homeowners should keep in mind that property taxes do not always correspond with home values, because local governments typically don’t measure values every year and some have limits on annual property-tax increases.

- As a result, current property taxes might reflect the home’s value when the market was healthier. According to the Congressional Budget Office, property-tax adjustments lag behind changes in home prices by an average of three years.

Although homeowners cannot change their property-tax rate, which is set by the local government, homeowners can get their assessment lowered if they appeal to their local assessor.

One key to a successful appeal is fact checking the assessor’s work. About half of all successful appeals come from homeowners pointing out an error in the assessor’s description of the home, according to one property tax expert.

- During the appeal process, which is similar to a less-formal court hearing, homeowners may present their case to several local officials or representatives. The simplest way to convince officials that a property has been incorrectly valued is to provide evidence of the sales price of homes that are comparable to the property being discussed. This should include square footage, amenities, and neighborhood characteristics. Sale documents and photos of the property in question, as well as the comparable properties also should be brought in.

- Homeowners who have made improvements or substantial changes to the property should be cautious about appealing an assessment though, as it could have negative effects and actually increase the property’s value and, in turn, the property taxes.

From Aug 25th, 2011. C.A.R's Market Matters
Reprinted with permission of the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Contact me if you have any questions or need any help with Real Estate,

Oliver Graf

Real Estate Expert
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Senate Bill 458 gives added protection to short-sale hopefuls

On Friday July 15th 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 458 (Corbett) into law. The new law, which contained an urgency clause and became effective upon signing, protects homeowners pursuing short sales by barring first and secondary lien holders from going after sellers for money owed after the short sales close.

Making sense of the story

-- A short sale – a transaction in which the homeowner sells the property for less than is owed on the mortgage – must be approved by the lien holder or lien holders, if there is more than one.

-- Under previous law (SB 931 of 2010), a first mortgage holder could accept an agreed-upon short-sale payment as full payment for the outstanding balance of the loan, but the rule did not apply to junior lien holders. SB 458 extends the protections of SB 931 to junior liens.

-- The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) sponsored the bill and urged lawmakers to pass this much-needed legislation.

-- “The signing of this bill is a victory for California homeowners who have been forced to short sell their home, only to find that the lender will pursue them after the short sale closes and demand an additional payment to subsidize the difference,” said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce. “SB 458 brings closure and certainty to the short-sale process and ensures that once a lender has agreed to accept a short-sale payment on a property, all lienholders – those in first position and in junior positions – will consider the outstanding balance as paid in full, and the homeowner will not be held responsible for any additional payments on the property.”

From July 21, 2011. C.A.R's Market Matters
Reprinted with permission of the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Contact me if you have any questions or need any help,

Oliver Graf

Real Estate Expert
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Short Sale News for Homeowners: Treasury expands HAFA short sales program for vacant properties

The Treasury department recently announced several changes to the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program to make the program accessible to more borrowers and properties. With the lackluster numbers on permanent HAMP modifications and other widely reported problems, HAFA and short sales may become a bigger focus for policy makers, loan servicers, and REALTORS® in 2011.

One particularly notable change announced relates to HAFA eligibility of vacant properties. Previously, only properties which were vacant for 90 days due to employment-related moves of more than 100 miles were typically eligible. Under the new HAFA guidelines, previously owner-occupied properties which have been vacant or rented for up to 12 months are eligible as long as, among other things, the seller has not purchased another property in the interim.

The new guidelines are effective Feb. 1, 2011, and are not applicable for, among others, loans owned or guaranteed by government owned or sponsored entities including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA.

From January 26th, 2011. Market Matters Weekly Advisory
Reprinted with permission of the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Contact me if you have any questions or need any help,

Oliver Graf

Real Estate Expert
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How to Get More Real Estate Deals Tip 1: Legal Notices and Notice of Defaults

Legal Notices / Notice of Defaults

You can start to look for legal notices in small papers usually on weekdays. There are also legal newspapers in many communities that most of the general public is unaware of. Do a little research in your local community to find where you can find these free postings to prospect.

The County Records/Courthouse is another place to find these lists for free. Sometimes they can be a bit tricky to find so I'd recommend asking for help as soon as you get there.
Real Estate Blog
The best place to go for the lists is the County Recorder’s Office or the County Clerk. Usually, there will be a computer or filing system that you can use to pull the most current recordings of default.

Purchasing NOD Lists: There are a lot of companies out there that can help you pull the list for you every day. These companies are great and they make your job a lot easier by pulling all the NODs for you as well as doing a reverse look up to find their numbers as well. Depending on the city of your choice you can find prices anywhere from $20-$140 per month.

If you decide to purchase these NOD lists it is important that they are selling you CURRENT filings. You do not want to be calling on NODs that are a month old. You also want to make sure that they include the Homeowner’s phone number. Some companies will sell you these lists without phone numbers. This is a big waste of time. Also, make sure they will send out new lists daily. You want to do your best to be the very first person to call the Homeowner. The early bird gets the worm. You will want this information as fast as possible every day.

For optimum results, combine your phone prospecting efforts with your mailing campaigns. Think about it... how powerful would it be to call or door knock a prospect AFTER they have already received a few of your marketing pieces. It will get you the deal every time and chances are no one else is doing it!

Make sure you track your NOD lists by date so that when you follow up on your mailings with a phone call or a door knock it is all organized in a manner to make your follow up easier. Write out your marketing plan for you list in advance and then follow it. can take up to 7 touches before you get the deal. Don’t stop short, keep calling, mailing and knocking your list.... The fortune is in the follow up!

Good luck, now go out there and get more deals.

To your success,

Oliver Graf
Real Estate Expert


Understanding the Real Estate Foreclosure Process (3 Steps)

In this market, housing values are declining as unemployment is increasing. For a homeowner, that means that the value of the house will be “upside-down”, and the market value of the home is actually less than the loan amount. Due to high unemployment we have seen a rise of foreclosures, where the bank takes back the property.

Foreclosure is the proceeding in which a bank or other secured creditor sells or repossesses a real property after the Homeowner has failed to comply with an agreement between the lender and the borrower (a mortgage or a deed of trust).

This happens when a property owner stops making their mortgage payments. After consistently missing payments the lender will usually consider the loan in default and begin with the foreclosure proceedings. The Lender at this point has the right to sell the property or even call the loan due.

All short sale / foreclosures have 3 steps in the timeline towards the property being sold.

1. Notice of Default (NOD):
A Notice of Default is a public notice given to the homeowner. In some states the notice is posted on the window or door. When a borrower is in default, or behind in mortgage payments, the lender will seize the home. In California lenders usually do not file an NOD until the homeowner is at least 90 days behind in payments.

2. Notice of Trustee Sale (NOTS):
A Notice of Trustee Sale is a public notice, published in a newspaper communicating a date for auction. This is also generally posted on the door; it will be a minimum of 21 days before the sale takes place.

3. Auction:
An auction is a public place where properties are auctioned to the highest bidder.

To your success,

Oliver Graf
Real Estate Expert


How to work with Homeowners (for Agents Real Estate and Investors)

Currently over 25% of mortgages are over-leveraged,
meaning these properties are worth LESS than the amount
of the mortgage.

There is an estimated 7 MILLION foreclosures coming
down the pipe over the next few years, and right now
luxury homes are going into foreclosure twice as fast as
the medium-priced homes.


Once you locate a potential short sale deal and you set
the appointment with the homeowner, there are three
major factors to understand...

1) Homeowners can be skeptical. Many of these homeowners
are in a short sale situation because of a loan officer that put
them into a bad loan, they were tricked into terms they did
not understand, or they got in over their heads.

2) They are most likely in some sort of hardship. It could be
anything from Job loss, to death of a spouse, medical issues.

3) They have a lot going on in their heads, particularly fear
of making a bad decision.

Learn to be there for them and come from a place of service.

Be real with them and educate them on what their options
are. When you put their interests first and show a strong
knowledge you will get the deal every time!

To your success,

Oliver Graf
Real Estate Expert


Why Invest in Real Estate Now?

Now more than ever Residential real estate ownership is gaining ever-increasing interest from retail investors for many of the following reasons:

--The current market can provide incredible deals and even in a "bad market" Real estate provides more predictable returns than stocks and bonds.

--Real estate provides an inflation hedge because rental rates and investment cash flows usually rise by at least as much as the inflation rate.

--Real estate provides an excellent place for capital in times when investors are unsure of prospects in the stock and bond markets or when investors expect long-term returns in stocks and bonds to be inadequate.

-- Cash Flow, Cash Flow, Cash Flow

--The equity created in a real estate investment provides an excellent base for financing other investment opportunities. Instead of borrowing from a 401(k) or family member to get the capital, investors can borrow against their equity to finance other projects. The relative ease in borrowing against a real estate investment combined with the deductibility of the mortgage interest makes this option a less-expensive method for financing other opportunities for investors who are comfortable taking on the additional financial risk.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

To your success,

Oliver Graf

Real Estate Expert
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Options for Property Owners struggling with their mortgage

Owners of distressed or “up-side-down” properties are face with many choices on both a financial and emotional level. For the struggling homeowner it is important to understand that when they are in a “distressed” position any of the following could have negative credit / tax consequences.

1) Loan Modification: This is where the homeowner and the lender come to an agreement. A modification can involve reducing the interest rate, deferring payments on the loan, an extension of time to pay back the mortgage, reduction in balance, or a combination of all of these possibilities.
Note: According to the Treasury Department, only 9% of home owners eligible for mortgage modifications have actually had their payments reduced, Only 1 in 50 have had any debt reduced, 78% see their debt increase as a result of late charges / attorney fees / missed payments, 63% of modified loans end up back in default within 1year. So while this option can sound really great, most banks and lenders are not actually helping the majority of people who apply for a loan modification.

2) Foreclosure: Foreclosure is a legal process through which the mortgage holder gains title to the property form a homeowner show has stopped paying their mortgage. After certain time periods, the lenders can foreclosure with or without the consent of the property owner.

3) A deed in lieu: Also known as cash for keys. A deed in lieu can happen when the homeowner offers to “give back” the property to the lender before the foreclosure date. The lender gets the property back without having to go through the entire foreclosure process and agrees to accept title to the property from the homeowner. In exchange they forgive the loan, and can give the homeowner a small amount of money to walk away. The deed in lieu must be agreed to by the lender and the homeowner.

4) Bankruptcy: A legal action generally filed by a homeowner to have debt (s) discharged. An “automatic stay” happens once someone files bankruptcy, “staying” all actions against the person. While petitioning for bankruptcy can cause delays in the foreclosure process. It does not necessarily prevent a foreclosure from eventually occurring.

5) Short Sale: Many people consider this the best option because the lender agrees to let a homeowner sell the property at today’s market values as opposed to what is owed on the mortgage.

What options have you tried / seen work best?

To your success,

Oliver Graf

Real Estate Expert
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Exactly what is a Short Sale?

A short sale describes a Real Estate transaction in which a sellers
lender or lenders (depending on how many mortgages there are) agree
to allow the homeowner to sell the property for an amount less
than what is owed on the loan(s).

The consent of the seller’s lender(s) is needed because without
it there wouldn't be enough money from the sale to pay off the
lenders in full in addition to the other costs of the sale (like
commissions and other closing costs.)

As a result, the lender’s lien(s) would remain on title, and
the homoeonwer selling the property would be unable to
transfer title to the buyer free of monitary liens.

Simply put, a short sale is where the lender agrees to allow
the homeowner to sell the property for less than what is owed
on the mortgage (s).

Peroperties that are worth less than the amount owed to the
secured lender(s) are often referred to as being “under water”
or distressed properties.


Big Industry News affecting Short Sales in California...

Big Industry News affecting Short Sales in California...

Senate Bill 931 was recently passed giving much relief
to sellers who are in a short sale position.

The bill expands existing anti-deficiency laws for first lien
holders regarding loans secured by properties of 1-4
units to short sales and took effect on January 1, 2011.

This is BIG for Sellers, Investors, and Agents!

In part, the new law provides that: "No judgment shall be
rendered for any deficiency under a note secured by a first
deed of trust or first mortgage for a dwelling of not more than
four units, in any case in which the trustor or mortgagor sells
the dwelling for less than the remaining amount of the indebtedness
due at the time of sale with the written consent of the holder
of the first deed of trust or first mortgage."

Simply put, California sellers who are granted a short sale
by a lender holding a first mortgage will now be exempt from
a deficiency judgment.

This is great news for any of your deals your currently working on
and great news for the business over the next year!

One of the most discouraging aspects for a homeowner facing
a short sale is the threat of deficiency they will experience for
selling their property short.

Fortunately, with Senate Bill 931 homeowners will no longer
be responsible for a deficiency on first mortgages in California.

Full text available here:

What impact do you think this will have on the market and sellers in general?

To your success,

Oliver Graf

Real Estate Expert

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