Aliso Viejo | Aliso Viejo City Tour

Thinking about moving to Aliso Viejo, California? Or never heard of it and want to know more? Check out this video I put together giving you a brief tour of the City of Aliso Viejo


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6 Tips for Choosing the Best Offer for Your Home

“How do I choose the best offer on my home?” I get this question a lot from people who are getting multiple offers on their home or think they may get multiple offers.  There are a lot of factors that go into answering that.  I came across this article that addresses some of those questions.  Check it out and if there is anything I can do to help you with your real estate needs, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for making Your Family’s Choice For Real Estate!

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Senate bill would preserve key housing tax policies

I have been talking to several people lately about the debt forgiveness act and the fact that it is due to expire at the end of the year.  What that would mean, for those of you who don’t know, is that if you had to short sell your home after the first of the year, you would be liable for income tax on the amount that was forgiven.  As an example…if you were in the 30% tax bracket and sold your home short by say $100,000, you would be responsible for $30,000 in taxes!  Yikes, that is not good!

The good news is that it looks like some movement is being made on not letting this happen.  Below is an article that I read today that give an update on what is being done.

Senate bill would preserve key housing tax policies

Mortgage insurance premium write-offs, debt forgiveness amid possible extensions

By Ken Harney
Inman News®// //

The rap on the current Congress is that it can’t overcome partisanship, can’t move bills, can’t do diddly-squat on budgets or tax policy. That reputation is richly deserved and has hurt the national economic recovery and done nothing to help housing.

But now and then, something odd happens. Republicans and Democrats come together and agree on legislative proposals that have the potential to stimulate economic growth and directly assist millions of taxpayers who are also homeowners. The Senate Finance Committee — one of the two key tax-writing bodies on Capitol Hill — did precisely that before heading home for vacation with a strong, 19-5 bipartisan vote on legislation extending or reviving 50-plus tax code provisions, several of which have important implications for housing.

The bill would preserve the mortgage debt forgiveness tax exemption that is scheduled to expire Dec. 31; bring back the popular home energy efficiency improvement write-offs that expired last December; revive the now moribund tax deduction for mortgage insurance premiums paid in connection with FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA and USDA Rural Housing low down payment programs; and extend the alternative minimum tax (AMT) “patch” retroactively for 2012 and continue it into 2013. Without the patch, millions of small-business owners and professionals are likely to pay higher federal income taxes this year and next.

The Senate committee’s bill is expected to hit the full Senate floor for a vote — likely in favor — after the Senate returns Sept. 10. Then it goes to the House, where it could either be taken up in the following several weeks or left for action after the election. Since the Senate’s vote represents the first positive, bipartisan move for real estate on a tax bill in years, here’s a quick overview of what it would do if it makes it out of the House in roughly similar shape and goes to the president for signature.

  • Mortgage debt forgiveness. Since early this year, I have received what must be several hundred emails from homeowners and REALTORS® asking essentially the same question: Could Congress be so dumb as to let the vitally important current tax code exemption for homeowners who’ve had their principal mortgage debts reduced by lenders expire? Could the federal government insist, in effect, that the Internal Revenue Service hit people when they’re down by treating the amounts forgiven in loan modifications, short sales, foreclosures and deeds-in-lieu as ordinary income, subject to crushing tax burdens?

As a matter of fact, the answer is yes. There are members of Congress who view the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act of 2006 as just another form of government bailout — forcing taxpayers who never fell behind on their loans to subsidize homeowners who stopped paying their mortgages, for whatever reason.

Political analysts including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, chief economic adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, told me earlier this year that extension of the debt forgiveness law is “not a sure thing” by any means, and could easily become a victim of the end-of-the-year battles over the federal debt, deficit and budget — the “fiscal cliff” when the Bush tax cuts expire and heavy expenditure reductions are imposed on the defense budget and social programs.

Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, expressly sought to insulate issues such as mortgage debt forgiveness from the expected year-end craziness by including it in the extender bill that just passed. If the National Association of REALTORS® can redouble its successful lobbying efforts in the House, Baucus’ strategy just might work. Thousands of underwater owners heading for foreclosure or seeking principal cancellation through the $25 billion, multistate robo-signing settlement certainly have good reason to hope so.

  • Energy efficiency write-offs. Remember those federal tax credits that homeowners could get when they installed new energy-conserving windows, doors, roofs, heat pumps, insulation and the like? Well, they expired last year and currently are unavailable for tax year 2012. But the Senate committee’s bill would bring them back for this year and through 2013. Not a game-changer, perhaps, but definitely a money-saver to large numbers of homeowners and a plus for the environment.
  • Mortgage insurance premium write-offs. This is another tax benefit that expired last December, but has special significance for a key segment of the housing marketplace: first-time buyers, minorities, and moderate-income buyers who lack big down payment cash. Under previous tax law, buyers who paid FHA or private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums, VA guaranty or USDA Rural Housing fees were able to deduct them — just like mortgage interest — if their incomes did not exceed specified thresholds ($100,000 for married taxpayers, $50,000 for single filers, with a graduated phaseout up to $110,000 and $55,000, respectively). In the most recent year when IRS data was available, 2009, homeowners claimed $5.5 billion in deductions.
  • AMT “patch” extension. The alternative minimum tax “patch” that has spared large numbers of small-business owners, REALTORS®, investors and others from higher tax bills no longer is in force. It expired last December. The Senate bill would revive it for 2012 and next. If that effort fails, some estimates indicate that as many as 25 million additional taxpayers could be hit by the AMT — not a welcome development in a sluggish economic environment.

Bottom line here: The fact that Sen. Baucus was able to weld together a lopsided bipartisan majority in committee to support key tax extenders bodes well for possible Senate approval sometime next month. Beyond that, the bill could become another element in what could turn out to be a grotesque game of partisan chicken in December.

But let’s think positively. If the case for bipartisanship on a carefully limited piece of tax legislation was convincing enough for Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, maybe there’s hope that we’ll see the same in the House.

Ken Harney writes an award-winning, nationally syndicated column, “The Nation’s Housing,” and is the author of two books on real estate and mortgage finance.

Contact Ken Harney:
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Copyright 2012 Inman News

If you have any questions, or would like to start looking for a home, I would love to hear from you!  Please, contact me today!

Troy Gregory
First Team Real Estate
DRE# 01310455

Oh, by the way…I am never too busy for your referrals!


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The Interest Rate Effect on Homeownership

As you know, interest rates are at historic lows and housing prices are at the lowest they have been in years, yet many people still think it is not a good time to buy.  They couldn’t be further from the truth.

Currently, our housing inventory is extremely low.  On homes that are priced right there are multiple offers and that is even on short sales.  I would like to share with you some information I recieved the other day in our sales meeting that I think will help you see what is going on.

Right now, you can get interest rates as low at 3.5% which is truly amazing!  Think back a few years, would you have been happy to get an interest rate of, let’s say, 5%?  You would have been very excited.  What do you think the odds are of the interest rates staying where they are or even going down?  Probably not good, right?  Odds are they are going to go up…even if it is just a little bit.

Home prices, as I mentioned before are low too.  Again, odds are they are going to go up and we are seeing that already.  Especially, with all the multiple offers that are going on.

So what happens when interest rates go up and home prices go up at the same time?  It means you will not be able to afford as much of a home as you can now.  Check out the following charts that will show you exactly why now is the perfect time to get off the fence and buy if you have been thinking about it for awhile.

As you can see, just a small increase in interest rate drastically affects your buying power.

If you have any questions, or would like to start looking for a home, I would love to hear from you!  Please, contact me today!

Troy Gregory
First Team Real Estate
DRE# 01310455

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Forecast says double-dip recession is imminent

For many, this is no surprise…in fact, I would say that most people would say that we are already in a double dip recession.  This article from CNN Money is very informative and lays out a very bleak picture of where the economy stands.  Are we indeed in a double dip recession?  Time will tell, but it doesn’t look good.

 Gross Domestic Product

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County Adds Jobs in November; More Job Seekers Inch Up Unemployment Rate


By Chris Casacchia
Friday, December 17, 2010

Seasonal hiring in the retail sector largely accounted for the 1,600 jobs the county added in November from October, but that growth wasn’t enough to push the unemployment rate down as more job seekers entered the market.

Employment rose less than 1% to 1.37 million nonfarm workers in November, according to the state Employment Development Department.

That slim gain, along with more people looking for work, boosted the unemployment rate in Orange County to 9.3% in November, up from a revised 9.1% in October and below the 9.6% of a year ago.

Retail added 2,100 jobs from October as department stores and other outlets readied for the holiday shopping season.

Those gains outpaced losses in wholesale trade, down 700 jobs, and transportation, warehousing and utilities, down 200 jobs.

Local government, educational and health services also saw monthly job gains. Educational services added 800 jobs, while healthcare and social assistance added 400 jobs.

The gains were overshadowed by losses in several key industries here.

Leisure and hospitality and professional and business services each logged 700 job losses, while financial activities lost 400 jobs. Other services were down 300 positions and construction lost 200 jobs.

On a yearly basis, the county continued gaining jobs at small clip.

Employers here in November added 19,100 jobs from a year earlier, a 1.4% gain. That marked the fifth month of consecutive yearly gains.

Professional and business services posted the largest yearly growth, adding 10,100 jobs. Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services accounted for about 70% of that gain, while professional, scientific and technical services accounted for the rest.

Leisure and hospitality had the second largest yearly gain, adding 8,400 jobs. Hotels, restaurants and bars led those gains adding 5,300 jobs, a continuing sign consumers are spending more discretionary income.

Arts, entertainment, and recreation added 3,100 jobs.

Construction reported the largest decline of 4,900 jobs. The specialty trade segment was down 2,600 jobs, while builders shed 2,200 jobs.

Heavy and civil engineering construction saw marginal cutbacks and lost 100 jobs

Orange County Business Journal

Troy Gregory
First Team Real Estate
DRE# 01310455

By the way…I am never too busy for your referrals!

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Mortgage rates jump to six-month highs

Dec. 9, 2010, 10:45 a.m. EST
Mortgage rates jump to six-month highs
Fixed-rate mortgages rise for fourth week in a row: Freddie Mac
By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Mortgage rates climbed this week with the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at its highest since the end of June, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgages, released on Thursday.

Rates on the 30-year mortgage averaged 4.61% for the week ending Dec. 9, up from 4.46% last week. It’s the fourth week in a row that the mortgage rate rose; it averaged 4.81% a year ago.

“Interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages are now almost a half percentage point higher than the record low set in mid-October, which for a $200,000 conventional loan amounts to $50 more in monthly payments,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist, Freddie Mac, in a news release.

Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages also rose this week, averaging 3.96%, up from last week’s 3.81%, according to the survey. The mortgage averaged 4.32% a year ago.
Meanwhile, adjustable-rate mortgages also moved higher, with the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaging 3.6% this week, up from 3.49% last week. The ARM averaged 4.26% a year ago.

And 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 3.27%, up from 3.25% last week. The ARM averaged 4.24% a year ago.

To obtain the rates, the fixed-rate mortgages required payment of an average 0.7 point and the ARMs required an average 0.6 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.

“After Europe made strides in its debt situation, investors left the security of U.S. Treasury debt causing bond yields to rise and mortgage rates along with them,” Nothaft said.

Nothaft also said that housing demand appears to be picking up.

“Existing pending sales jumped 10.4% in October to the strongest pace since April, according to the National Association of Realtors. More recently, mortgage applications for home purchases rose for the three consecutive weeks ending on Dec. 3, representing a 17.7% increase and the strongest pace since the week of May 7, based on figures released by the Mortgage Bankers Association,” he said.

If you are looking for a home in Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo or any where in south Orange County, please visit my website at

Troy Gregory
First Team Real Estate
DRE# 01310455

By the way…I am never too busy for your referrals!

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