Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


Get Coupon Wise, in the Mortgage Revise

“Attention Kmart Shoppers…there is a Blue Light Special on…!!!” You may be familiar with this shout out; either, because you lived it, you were with your folks when the flashing blue light powered on, or maybe your young self, has only heard of this marketing phenomenon; born of Kmart, assistant manage Earl Bartell in 1965. Regardless, on way or another…you know this famous phrase.

With Feds raising the interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade; this ocean hue flashing light, may be an idea to follow, concerning mortgages, and how to shop! Back in the mid-90’s home buyers learned to enter the lender’s office, armed with an arsenal of questions. Relating to everything from discount points to buy downs.

Back to BBB’s = Buyers, Bargains and Buy Downs

Granted the Feds have assured us the increase is minimal, and the incline will be slow; but, the truth is, those rates are on an upswing. As the economy recovers, and rates roll forward; the threat of inflation becomes very real. Yet, not having reached that 3 cornered financial landscape; what can Buyers do to make homeownership still affordable, now?

Here’s an Oldie, but Goodie list of Saving Tips…

  1. Shop lenders for rates. Not all will be the same. Regardless of the set rate; fees vary.
  2. Consider various loan types. FHA, Conventional, USDA, VA, ARM, etc. Ask around.
  3. Talk Turkey. Don’t be timid. Let the lenders know; you are there to find the best deal!
  4. Keep inchin’ that credit score up.
  5. Bring cash. Yes, there are down-payment assistance programs; but, not at great rates.

So, shoppers…time to dig through your memory box, and begin recycling your purchasing totes. The very best bargain you will find out there, with this new rate hike; is hiding on the bottom shelf, behind the new, expensive and shiny packages. It’s just going to take a little digging. But, it’s so worth the savings!

Get coupon wise, in the Mortgage Revise!




Make your Home a Winter Wonderland, while For Sale

Sometimes it can take a basket full of sparkly baubles, to create a home that shines like a shimmering snow tree. Nothing may be more comforting to a homeowner, than spending time in their winter wonderland; except, perhaps a new proprietor…discovering it!

Winter-Home-Interior-Design-Ideas6Realtor’s suggestions of lessening clutter, and rearranging furniture for a comfy holiday look and feel; can be tailored during the holiday seasons. Decorating for winter, while selling your home, takes a certain amount of skill in order to keep your abode inviting. The intent is to create a reaction of both, harmony and urgency…

“I have to buy this home, before someone else does. I feel so happy when I’m in it”.

Real estate, has as much to do with the emotions of the potential buyer; as it does having your home priced, right. Folks will pay top dollar, for properties they find themselves elated by.

A few lil’ decorating tips, for a fireside glow

1. Welcome them with warmth.

If you have a fireplace (gas, wood-burning or faux) spark it up!  There is nothing that says winter, better than a flickering or roaring fire. If you don’t have a fireplace; well placed candles can work, too.

TIP: don’t use too many candles; you are going for a winter ambience, not a Halloween séance. Steer clear of scented candles, as well.

2.   Appeal to their senses, with appealing scents.

Studies have shown for hears, that a single smell can evoke extreme emotions in people. And, since we understand that a high percentage of buyer’s decisions are based on feelings; it seems wise, to have our home tastefully aromatic, with cozy fragrances.

TIP: Stay consistent with scents throughout the house. Stick to mild and popular auras like cinnamon, pines and vanillas. Finally, do not use scented candles; plug-in warmers with wax cubes are the way to go! Be sure they are refreshed, often; and, operating continually.

3.  Bring the season inside.

No matter what our interior decor or hue palette is; you can incorporate the feel of the crisp and cold outdoors, with accessories. Add a few throw pillows to the sofa, chairs and/or beds. Find a small area rug with a great natural pattern; and, infuse some lovely dried holly berry, or pine garland to ensure a comfy atmosphere.

TIP: Again, balance is key. The plan is not to return to the cluttered venue. Instead, find small corners that might need a little sparkle and pop! and, replace existing trinkets with winter fanfare.

Selling your property can be time-consuming and confusing; especially, if you are selling it, yourself. Utilizing a Realtor, can have benefits far beyond pricing, and negotiations. Here’s hoping that these seasonal tips have assisted you with some great design ideas. If you have not, yet listed your home, but are considering it; please, contact us. We’d love to partner with you, while selling your warm and relaxed winter home!



11 Points on the Economy and Real Estate

11 Points about The Economy and Real Estate:
1- Homes prices throughout North America are on the rise and the market is continuing to move towards some level of normalcy.
2- Interest rates remain low at this time and are projected to remain low. In addition, today’s buyers have not only great rates, but great pricing…in some cases, the best they will ever experience.
3- Inventory is still low (yes, we know it’s rising) which always creates a better demand and stabilizes prices.
4- The number of new homes that are being built and sold is increasing on a regular basis and new home starts are up 15%-20% in most parts of the U.S.. This is critical to the re-sale market.
5- The real estate market is becoming stable for the first time in 6-7 years because supply and demand is stabilizing for the first time.
6- When prices on properties are realistic, there are multiple offers taking place.
7- Consumer confidence brings greater interest to the real estate market and creates motivation for both buyers and sellers.
8- Homes sales are projected to rise by 3%-5% in 2014.
9- New policies in the mortgage industry prevent buyers from buying homes they cannot afford. This helps prevent a relapse of what we experienced previously.
10- Homeowners are building equity in their homes again. This is a positive factor in that it creates future opportunities for the market for buyers and sellers.
11- There are fewer and fewer properties “under-water”, which means that those equities are returning which creates move up and move down buyers in the market.
Having the strength and fortitude to serve my clients throughout 4 different economic cycles has shaped my skill set as a real estate professional. I’ve learned to be versatile as markets develop and evolve. I have learned how to sell at a high level, to negotiate masterfully and execute precisely on promises and expectations.
As 2014 marches on, I look forward to helping more clients, friends and families achieve their real estate goals and find answers to their real estate decisions. I promise to approach each transaction as if it were my own, to use due diligence, skill and care in the performance of my responsibilities on your behalf.
I look forward to your continued business and referrals.
Bye for now,
Dean Souza 510-881-1761/925-202-2099

Transfer of Real Property

My good friend, Robert Silverman, Attorney At Law shared the following in formation with me and I thought it valuble enough to pass on…

Real estate transfers involve many moving parts, including personal circumstances and potential tax (e.g. income, estate & gift, and property tax) liability. It is wise to evaluate and obtain sound advice from experienced professionals (e.g. legal, tax, real estate, and financial) before transferring any property. This holds true regardless of whether the transfer will be by lifetime gift or sale, or testamentary bequest.

Below are a few relevant California property tax reassessment rules (oversimplified) [see CA Revenue & Taxation Code Section 63.1].

 1. Principal residences: Any parent to child (or child to parent) transfer is entitled to an unlimited reassessment exemption. Assuming required forms are completed and submitted timely to the County Assessor, property taxes remain the same in the hands of the child (or children) to whom a property is transferred as when the parent owned it.

 2. Non-principal residence property(ies), transfers between parents and children are entitled to a reassessment exemption up to an aggregate maximum (for all such non-principal residence property transfers) of $1 Million in assessed value.

 Given the prevalence of intra-family principal residence transfers, I’ll focus on the principal residence rules. You’ll see contrasting examples that demonstrate how beneficial it can be to structure your estate plan to synchronize optimally with these rules.

 Hypothetical facts regarding your principal residence and other assets: a) You bought your home forty (40) years ago; b) current “Prop. 13” assessed value (i.e. value reflected on the property tax rolls for your home) is $200,000; c) the home’s fair market value is $1,000,000;      d) you have a $200,000 mortgage; thus $800,000 of home equity;       e) you have cash, stocks and bonds (“liquid assets”) totaling $800,000; and f) you have two (2) children – one living in the Bay Area and one settled on the East Coast – and the child living here would like to own your home upon your death.

 If you establish a typical Living Trust, it would likely state simply that half of your assets go to each child upon your death. On your death, the successor trustee might (depending on a number of provisions in your Living Trust) sell the property, which would be unfortunate for the local child. Instead, the trustee might offer the home to the local child and credit the equity ($800,000) toward that child’s one half share; and the other child would be given the liquid assets of equal value ($800,000).

 Assuming the trustee is authorized to, and does, transfer the home to the local child, the assessor will likely determine that the transaction essentially involved a transfer of: i) one half of the property by you, the parents, to the local child; and ii) one half of the property from the East Coast child to the local child. The harsh result is that the half characterized as a sibling-sibling transfer is not entitled to any exemption, and is reassessed.

 Here is the monetary difference:

 A) The assessed value of the exempt half stays the same. Half of the current $200,000 assessed value = $100,000. At the applicable rate (about 1%) this translates into approximately $1,000/yr. in property tax.

 B) The assessed value of the non-exempt half is reassessed at half of the then current fair market value of $1,000,000 ($500,000), with property tax payable at $5,000/yr.

 C) The new assessed value (adding both halves) is $600,000, resulting in total property tax payable at $6,000/yr.

 So, with a commonly drafted Living Trust, the local child pays $6,000/yr. in property taxes. Alternatively, if the Living Trust states (among other important clauses) that the local child is to receive 100% of the home and the other child is to receive 100% of the liquid assets, the whole transaction should be an exempt parent-child transfer. Thus, the local child would enjoy the home with the same low $2,000/yr. property taxes that you, the parent, enjoyed.

Roberet Silverman, Esq is an attorney with Buchman Provine Brothers Smith LLP and can be reached at 925944-9700; His practice emphasizes Estate Planning; Trust Administration & Probate; Real Estate; and Business.

 Bye for now…

Dean Souza

Better Homes Realty


Focused on the Success of Your Next Move



Home Sales Increase at a Brisk Pace

Americans bought new homes in September at the fastest pace in two years. This is another sign that the housing industry, whose decline was at the heart of the recession, is bouncing back.

Population growth and mortgage rates, pushed to record lows are generating sales for builders and spurring the three-year economic recovery.

Housing starts in Sept 2012 jumped 15 per cent to the fastest pace since July 2008.

What does this mean for the immediate future? It appears that the inventory shortage will continue for the time being. I believe a conservative outlook is prudent due to this being an election year, however, if you are a person who strikes while the iron is hot, then now is a great time to sell and purchase a new home…

Interest rates are at historically low levels and there is lots of money available for purchases.

For a specific analysis of your home and your neighborhood, give me a call at 510-881-1761. There’s no obligation, just friendly information with no pressure.

Bye for now…


Dean Souza

Focused on the Success of Your Move


What’s been Happening in our Real Estate Market Jan 1 2012 to present?

We have heard about the infamous ‘Shadow Inventory’ that supposedly has lurked over our shoulders like a black cloud for 4 years now. The term ‘Shadow Inventory’ is used loosely to describe the backlog of bank owned properties that will eventually hit the market in some way, shape or form. Interestingly enough, no one will go on record about anything to do with ‘Shadow Inventory’ and we don’t even know if it really exists.

So, why am I discussing shadow inventory if we don’t even know it exists?

We do know that there is a backlog of Bank Owned (REO) properties that have not been liquidated. In judicial foreclosure states (Cal. is not a judicial foreclosure state), the MIRS or Robosign issue has been resolved to a point where many of those states will see and are seeing now, an influz of new inventory.

In California, we are the second hardest hit state with foreclosures. The key to any release of inventory was the recent settlement between the states and the major banks. this settlement resulted in states being awarded millions of dollars to paid by the banks for their part in the housing meltdown in which they failed to act responsibly by giving mortgages to unqualified buyers and causing the extended run-up of values of homes. This has now resulted in many homeowners being ‘underwater’ or owing more on their homes than what their home’s value is today.

At a conference with on Friday, June 17, 2012, I was fortunate enough to be able to get face to face with representatives of Chase, Freddie Mac, PMH Financial, NRTS, LPS and Wells Fargo. All are expecting a 40% increase in REO properties across the nation this year. this isn’t the tidal wave of ‘Shadow Inventory’, but it will add to the inventory and the effects of that will be discussed in my next post to come soon.

Stay tuned for more interesting tips and insights, what has happened to our inventory since January 1st and why this could be an opportune time to make your move in the real estate market.

Bye for now,

Dean Souza

Focused on the Success of Your Move

510 881 1761/510 888 3322


RealtyTrac® (, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™ for November 2011, which shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 224,394 U.S. properties in November, a 3 percent decrease from the previous month and a 14 percent decrease from November 2010. The report also shows one in every 579 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

“Despite a seasonal slowdown similar to what we’ve seen in each of the past four years, November’s numbers suggest a new set of incoming foreclosure waves, many of which may roll into the market as REOs or short sales sometime early next year,” said James Saccacio, co-founder of RealtyTrac. “Overall foreclosure activity is down 14 percent from a year ago, the smallest annual decrease over the past 12 months, and some bellwether states such as California, Arizona and Massachusetts actually posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in November.

“Scheduled foreclosure auctions reached a nine-month high in November, corresponding to a recent surge in default notices that began back in August,” Saccacio continued. “Many of the new defaults that started the foreclosure process over the past few months are now being scheduled for public foreclosure auction.”

I have already seen my own inventory grow as a result of the increase in foreclosure actions. What does this mean?

It depends on whether you are a buyer, seller or investor. As a seller, we need to ACT NOW and not wait for the seasonal increase in listings that occurs in the 2nd quarter of each year. AS  buyer, increased inventory means more buying opportunities. As an investor, distressed properties offer opportunities to flip, hold and rent or buy a house for family members.

Call me for a discussion on any of the opportunities that we have in front of us or advice on  your own personal real estate decisions.

You can always reach me at 510 881 1761 or email me at

Bye for now and Merry Christmas!


Dean Souza

Focused on the Success of Your Move


Honesty Between Seller and Agent-The Best Recipe for Success

The relationship between a seller and Realtor is one of the most critical factors affecting the successful sale of home. It’s second only to the marketing effort of the real estate agent.

A Realtor must tell the seller the truth about the local market and the likely sale price of the home. A seller must be willing to accept this information and the recent sales data that supports the opinion of value.

When either is not honest with each other, whether it be the agent telling the potential seller what he/she thinks they want to hear, or, the seller not accepting the market data, then frustration, missed opportunities is the likely result.

Honesty is a two way street and is the natural result of a trusting relationship. Picking an agent you can trust is an important key to realizing the success of your move.

For more information on my approach and philosophy to selling and buying homes, feel free to call me about any of your real estate needs at 510 881 1761 or email me at


Dean Souza

Focused on the Success of Your Move


Taxes on Short Sale vs. Foreclosure

The key legislation that protects most homeowners from the IRS & California Franchise Tax Board tax consequences sunsets in 2012.  That’s only 405 days away!  OK, stop laughing.  405 is not a lot when you consider that “U.S. homeowners in the foreclosure process were an average of 507 days late on payments at the end of last year”*.  The only thing worse than losing your home, is losing your home and then getting taxed on the shortage as a gain.  In California, a $100K gain (a.k.a. the shortage on your loan) could create a $34K tax bill.

If you are hopelessly underwater, it may be better to consider your options now vs. later.  2012 is just around the corner.

For answers to your questions about this article or other real estate questions, you can contact me at or call me direct at 510 -888-3322.

Bye for now!

Dean Souza


Cheaper To Rent Or Buy?

Home prices have taken such a beating and demand for rental units has increased so much that it’s now cheaper to buy a two-bedroom home than to rent one in most major U.S. cities.

According to real estate web site Trulia, buying was cheaper than renting in 74% of the country’s 50 largest cities in July. In just 12% of the cities, including New York, Seattle and San Francisco, renting was cheaper. In the remaining 14% of cities, renting was less expensive but close to the cost of buying.

In addition to a continuing decline in home prices, rock-bottom interest rates have added a lot of weight to the buy side of the scale. The overnight average rate for a 30-year fixed was just 4.19% on Monday, according to A 15-year fixed averaged just 3.43%.

Add in the tax perks of home ownership and for those who can afford it (and who can actually qualify for a loan), it certainly is a buyer’s market.

“It’s a personal decision, of course. But if you have a steady job and you are planning to stay for seven years or more and have enough cash to put 20% down and enough left over for seven or eight months of expenses, you’re better off buying in most places,” said Daisy Kong, a spokeswoman for Trulia.

Should you rent or buy?

The buy-rent calculation is just one part of the decision-making process. Other factors include:

  • How long you plan to stay. If you’re not keeping the home for several years, transactional costs of buying and selling (e.g; commissions, closing costs) can wipe out any buying edge.
  • Whether you have cash for closing. Banks offer a variety of loan programs with varying down payment requirements. Call me for referrals to top lenders and mortgage brokers in our area ton find out what your particular requirements will be.
  • Whether you can cover all the homeownership costs. It’s not just the mortgage: There are property taxes, insurance, heat, utilities and regular maintenance.
  • Whether you can claim the tax advantages of homeownership. Mortgage interest is deductible and can shave a lot off tax bills but this benefit accrues mostly to high income earners with substantial mortgage payments. Many borrowers claim the standard deduction on their taxes and so derive no savings from the deduction.

For guidance and direction for your self or someone in your family, give me a call and I will take personal responsibility for making sure you get all of the information you will need to make an informed decision for you and your family.

Bye for now,

Dean Souza

510-888-3322 /

Focused on the Success of Your Move


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July 2020

Dean Souza