Never have we been in such a state in real estate. At least not in my near 24 years in real estate sales. Who do you believe when making buying and selling decisions for 2012?  There are lots of opinions and “experts” out there. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have an opinion on what is in store for 2012.

Buyers are going to do well!

Take the incredibly low interest rates, add an overwhelmingly  long list of available homes for sale, adjust for being at bottom or near bottom prices, and you end up with an amazing opportunity in front of you. I will post this and look back in December 2012 and see how close I am to being correct. I believe 2012 is the year to buy, if you are considering it.  Cash will continue to be “king”, those that have it will have the best buying power. Those who need loans will still benefit. Historically, the rates are extremely low, which buys more house for your money. Lower rates also means more qualify and if the banks loosen up more money to the consumer,  we have the perfect combination of factors.

In order to position yourself to purchase with a loan, the best advice I can offer is talk to your lender of choice and get pre-approved for a loan amount.  It’s the best way to start your real estate search, it helps your real estate agent do a better job negotiating on your behalf, and ultimately you’ll have a better chance at getting your offer accepted when you competing against other buyers and/or get you a better “deal” on your home purchase.

There are a lot of “deals” to be had, but some of the best ones are foreclosure properties.  You can request to a free listing of Central Coast foreclosures here.

Eddie Stanfield

As real estate agents, we sometimes take it for granted that buyers understand how real estate agents are paid.  However, most first-time home buyers haven’t experienced the process yet, so we wanted to clarify some important points for those who may be unfamiliar with how it all works.

In most cases buyer representation is free of charge. It is traditional that the seller pays for the costs of all commissions of the listing agent and selling agent (buyers’ agent).  This comes from the proceeds of the sale. Sellers are fully prepared to pay the cost of hiring a real estate professional to sell their home.  The agent’s commission is negotiated and noted in a written contract between the sellers and the agent they select to market their home and represent them throughout the process.  Most of time, the commission is an agreed upon percentage of the selling price of the home.  That commission is shared or split with the agent who represents the buyers of the home. 

So there is no commission cost to the buyers for agent representation.  Obviously,  there will be other costs involved with the home buying process such as obtaining a mortgage loan and buyer inspections ect. A knowledgeable real estate agent will be able to explain the whole process to you in detail when you are ready to make your home purchase.

You can find more information for first-time home buyers in our article, Can I Afford to Buy a Home?

~Shea Hutchinson, Realtor Associate, Team


Here’s a snapshot view of sales for single family homes in some of our Central Coast cities based upon statistics from the Central Coast MLS -Multiple Listing Service:

City # of Sales
May 2007
# of Sales
May 2008
Atascadero 34 17
Five Cities 47 38
Orcutt 14 34
Paso Robles 48 59
San Luis Obispo 28 14
Santa Maria 22 62



We continue to see more national articles that support our theory that the real estate prices on the Central Coast are starting to stablize, particularly in the Santa Maria and Orcutt areas.   In an article entitled “Real Estate Outlook: Worst is Over“, Kenneth R. Harney identifies some more signs of improvement in the housing market and some reasons for the signs. 

The Wall Street Journal printed an article today that backs our May 1st blog.  James R. Hagarty writes in “Home Sales Rise in Hard-Hit Areas
In it, he mentions, as we did, that lenders are pricing foreclosed homes more aggressively and that sales are up in those areas that are hardest hit.  This is the situation for Santa Maria and Orcutt real estate.

First American Title Company in Santa Maria reports each month on residential real estate sales activity and compares it to previous years.  Here is a summary of the number of sales of single family homes, condos,and Planned Unit Developments (PUDs.)  The report confirms that sales activity is really picking up.  In fact, the number of sales increased 60% from last year.  Another sign that the market is improving?

Total Sales in the Santa Maria Area for:
April 2008 – 117
April 2007 – 73
April 2006 – 97
April 2005 – 130
April 2004 – 112

 An article in the Wall Street Journal on May 6, 2008 by Cyril Moulle-Berteaux gives an opinion about the real estate market that supports our blog on May 1st Are Real Estate Prices Starting to Hit Bottom?

Berteaux raises some different and interesting points as to why he believes the market is starting to bottom-out.  Take a look at his article and see what you think: The Housing Crisis Is Over

Avila BarnOne of my favorite places on the Central Coast to produce shop is the Avila Barn at the entrance to Avila Beach.  They have a fabulous selection of fresh vegetables and fruits and a wonderful bakery.  This year they added an ice cream parlor and candy store.  I picked up an olallieberry pie for our Mother’s Day brunch, and it was a big hit.  It’s worth a visit if you haven’t already been there.

That is probably the question I am asked most these days. My personal opinion, after 20 years as a real estate agent, is that we seem to be approaching that point. Here’s why:

1. Over the last month, I have started to see a dramatic change in the way banks are treating their bank-owned properties (REOs). Just a few months ago, some of the banks with which I work were listing their foreclosures at prices higher than recommended. Now they are starting to list them for sale at prices under market value.
2. We are starting to see multiple offers on foreclosed homes. Last week, a client I represent was competing against 11 other offers for the same property. Fortunately, my client’s offer was the one that the bank accepted.
3. Multiple offers on foreclosures is driving the prices up. In other words, in order to secure the home they want, buyers are offering more than list price. That is a big sign that we may have reached bottom.
4. The federal government is very anxious to do things that will help the economy and reduce the large number of homes on the market. Interest rates are a big part of that, and they are very low right now. However, that can’t last forever. As soon as they go up again, we are likely to see a slowdown in real estate buying activity.
5. There are a lot of active buyers right now. People have a general sense that the time is right to jump back into the real estate market.
6. Sellers of homes that are not in any stage of foreclosure are very willing to negotiate terms of sale right now. They are willing to pay for things such as closing costs (normally something that the buyer and seller split) or provide an allowance for repairs.

If you are seriously looking to take advantage of the real estate opportunities out there right now, my biggest piece of advice for you is to meet with your lender and get a prequalification letter. Many of the banks who own foreclosures will not consider an offer without it. If you need some recommendations for experienced, reputable lenders, please check out our recommendations at

There was an article in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal (April 26-27, 2008) that caught my attention.  It talked about how difficult it is for first-time home buyers to qualify for loans, citing higher credit score requirements and additional costs such as private-mortgage insurance for those who don’t have large down payments.  The article had the usual “doom and gloom” tone to it that so many real estate-related articles have these days.

But as I read it, I remembered that similar requirements were in place when I bought my first home many years ago – dare I say how many?  (Hint: It was in the 1970s.) Precautionary measures and stricter requirments were the norm, and with good reason.  The mortgage mess that the country is in right now is a result of many ignoring the sound reasoning behind those guidelines.

That said, I don’t believe that homeowership is becoming a “nightmare” for “many first-time home buyers,” as the WSJ writer states.  First of all, there are more loans options available to first-time than the article depicts.  Secondly, I meet first-time buyers who have proven that they are responsible borrowers with excellent credit scores.  They are prepared to prove that they can handle the debt and believe that the sacrifices they will be making today will pay off down the road.   When it comes to home ownership, I think that we’ve just come back to the basics, and there is no confusion as to why.

If you are a first time home buyer, you may find our article, “Can I Afford to Buy a Home?” helpful.  You can check it out:

The inventory of homes for sale have sky-rocked and there are a record number of properties that are in foreclosure.  Prices have dropped to levels lower than we’ve seen in years.  Sellers are offering all types of incentives to sell their properties. Real estate is “on sale.”
Many are predicting that prices will continue to drop, leading some experts to suggest that buyers should wait. But keep in mind, there will be no bell that goes off announcing that the market has “hit bottom”.  Once prices start to rise again (and they will), those who have been waiting to buy will jump back into the market, and competition for properties will increase.
If you are looking to purchase a home that you plan to own for a while, I believe that now is an excellent time to buy.  Interest rates are good, there are a lot of properties from which to choose, and sellers are motivated.  If you are concerned that prices will drop another 10%, then make an offer based upon that assumption.  You may be surprised at the result.