Monthly Archives: April 2016

Apr 29

Wells Fargo Settlement

By Antoinette Johnson | Uncategorized

I recently got a chance to spend some time with my husband for a well deserved movie night.  We decided to watch The Big Short starring, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling.  It is about the mortgage crisis that took place in the early part of the century.

At the end of the movie it highlighted the fact that as we all know the banks were bailed out and only one person went to jail.  I found this article on the settlement that Wells Fargo had to pay and it definitely helped me sleep a bit easier at night knowing that there was at least a little justice served.

Wells Fargo will pay $1.2 billion to the federal government in what will mark a record-setting recovery settlement for the Federal Housing Administration.

The settlement will go to resolving claims of loan origination violations that occurred in the mortgage giant’s FHA mortgage insurance lending program from 2001 to 2010.  During that period, Wells Fargo acknowledged to the government that certain residential home mortgage loans they approved as eligible for the FHA insurance were not. The government, therefore, had to step in and pay the FHA insurance claims whenever a borrower defaulted on those loans.

“This Administration remains committed to holding lenders accountable for their lending practices,” Secretary Julián Castro for HUD said in a statement. “The $1.2 billion settlement with Wells Fargo is the largest recovery for loan origination violations in FHA’s history.  Yet, this monetary figure can never truly make up for the countless families that lost homes as a result of poor lending practices.”

Wells Fargo officials say the settlement allows the lender to put the legal process surrounding these questionable loans dating back from 2001 behind them and finally move on.

“We are dedicated to providing access to credit to a broad range of customers through offerings that exist today as well as new products and programs on the horizon,” Franklin Codel, president of Wells Fargo Home Lending, said in a statement. “Wells Fargo has helped millions of people buy homes and we will continue to meet the financing needs of the customers and communities the FHA program is intended to serve.”

Source: “It’s Official: Wells Fargo Reaches Largest Settlement in FHA History,” HousingWire (April 8, 2016)

Apr 23

Wind Damage?

By Antoinette Johnson | Uncategorized

I always remember my son asking me, mommy where does wind come from? The air we breathe is something that most of us take for granted but did you know that wind can cause severe damage to our homes?

A new study shows why home owners need to be more concerned about wind damage.

According to data released by the insurance company Travelers, wind damage nudged ahead of hail, water, theft, fire, and others to be the top homeowner’s insurance claim. But it’s the one thing that home owners are least likely to protect their homes against, says Scott Humphrey, the second vice president of risk control at Travelers.

Wind can cause tree branches to detach and hit the home, lift up roof shingles, or damage windows and doors, Humphrey says.

To protect a home during a strong storm with high winds, home owners should ensure dangling branches are removed, secure windows with plywood, and secure a garage with vertical braces, says Crissinda Ponder, a real estate analyst for Also, home owners should be proactive in repairing or replacing any loose or damaged shingles and have door bolts to keep doors in place, she adds.

Wind damage is covered by most standard home insurance policies. However, home owners in coastal and hurricane-prone areas may find wind damage excluded from their policies and may need to purchase a separate windstorm policy.

The study revealed the following five most common causes of homeowner’s insurance claims:

  • Exterior wind damage: 25% (percentage of claims)
  • Non-weather related water damage (i.e. plumbing and appliance issues): 19%
  • Hail: 15%
  • Weather-related water damage: 11%
  • Theft: 6%

Source: “The No. 1 Thing Most Likely to Damage Your Home,” MarketWatch (April 6, 2016)

Apr 14

Ranch Homes….Have You Overlooked Them?

By Antoinette Johnson | Uncategorized

One of my clients inspired me to write this article about Ranch Homes. I have always preferred Colonial Multi-Level Homes but my clients love for ranch style homes has opened my eyes.

One-story ranch houses, once overlooked in favor of two-story homes, are back in buyers’ good graces. In fact, single-story homes are becoming so coveted in some markets that it’s prompted bidding wars.

“You see this cycle,” says Alan Hess, an architect and author of a 20th-century home design book called “The Ranch House.” “Many types of buildings will be popular for a while, then go into decline, get torn down, then inevitably there is a return of interest. The ranch house is now on the upswing in that cycle.”

Two-thirds of home buyers – or 64 percent – say they prefer a single-story home, according to a housing preference study released by the National Association of Home Builders. Broken out by age, 35 percent of millennials say they prefer a single-story home, 49 percent of Gen Xers, 75 percent of baby boomers, and 88 percent of seniors.

Yet despite the high demand for ranch homes, builders continue to largely favor constructing houses with two stories. Housing analysts say it’s because two-story homes can be built on smaller lots at a time when the costs of land are escalating. The trend is particularly evident in Southern California, the birth place of the ranch style home, which is seeing skyrocketing land costs.

Ranch homes for sale in Southern California are commanding high prices. For example, a 2,746-square-foot ranch in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles attracted a bidding war with four offers of buyers trying to escape the two-story house trend.  The house was listed at $2.099 million but sold for $2.2 million.

“With the new developments, they’re two stories,” says Manny Fierros of Ontrac Real Estate in Whittier. “When you’re able to find something with a good-sized lot, and a single story, that’s what’s attracting buyers.”

Source: “All the Rage Before Disneyland Was Built, Iconic Ranch House Back in Demand,” The Orange County Register (April 11, 2016)

Apr 09

Curb Appeal

By Antoinette Johnson | Uncategorized

I have written a number of my articles for you guys about how to make your house more appealing to a potential buyer. I want to specifically focus todays article on curb appeal.  The very first impression your house makes with a buyer can color the rest of the showing for them!

Take a close look at your listing from the eye of a home buyer. Are the bushes overgrown around the front windows? Has the mulch all washed away? Is the paint on the shutters fading?

These are the questions Jon Coile, chairman of the multiple listing service MRIS in Rockville, Md., asks in a recent column at The Washington Post that aims to help sellers examine the exterior of their homes. Here are some simple ways to solve common curb appeal issues:

Stick to similar plant groupings. Aim for a continuous flow with a landscape. “It can often make small spaces feel much larger,” Coile says. To do this, select only few different types of plants for the landscaping, instead of selecting a wide variety. The majority of the landscaping should consist of similar plants so the landscape doesn’t look look broken up into too many different sections, Coile notes. Then, feel free to use a small number of accent pieces to add color and visual interest.

Use visual markers. Visual markers help draw buyers’ eyes from one end of the yard to another. “The easiest way to do this is to lay a path that subtly transitions in the same places the yard does, at slight changes in elevation or where shaded areas transition to open sun,” Colie notes. “If that isn’t possible, then a few strategically placed taller plants, subtle decorations, or lighting fixtures can create the same impression.”

Show off the entertainment value. Show grassy areas where kids can play safely as well as places where adults can socialize, Coile writes. Consider these features for an added touch to show the possibilities of a space: Fire pits and outdoor gas flames, outdoor speakers, or a wet bar near a grill.


Source: “How to Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal,” The Washington Post (April 11, 2016)