2011 Top Real Estate Stories; Year in Review

Petra Ecclestone Buys Candy Spelling’s Manor

The long-running drama over the sale of the highest-priced home in the U.S. appears to be heading to its finale.

The 57,000-square foot Los Angeles mansion built by the late TV producer Aaron Spelling is slated for sale to a 22-year-old heiress to a Formula One racing fortune. The home on five acres of property in Holmby Hills has a bowling alley, beauty salon, several gift-wrapping rooms and parking for 100 cars.

“The Manor,” as the property is known, had a list price of $150 million that didn’t budge during the real-estate downturn that sent prices in Los Angeles down by more than a third. The sales price was not disclosed.

Read More…

30 Year Mortgage Rates Lowest in 60 Years

Homeowners who have resisted the urge to refinance their mortgages until now could be rewarded for their willpower. Mortgage rates have fallen to new lows—and banks are rolling out incentives to win business.

Economic uncertainty in Europe and slow growth in the U.S. are prompting investors to pile into ultrasafe U.S. Treasurys. That, in turn, is pushing down mortgage rates, which are tied to Treasurys.

The average interest rate on a 30-year mortgage fell to 4.05% for the week ended Dec. 23, the lowest in 60 years, according to HSH Associates, a mortgage-data firm. And rates on jumbo mortgages—private loans that in most parts of the country are larger than $417,000—also have hit new lows, averaging 4.61%.  Read More…

U.S. Homes Lose $700 Billion in Value in 2011 — and That’s the Good News

The year-end housing news is sobering — U.S. homes are expected to lose more than $681 billion in value in 2011. But there’s an upside — that’s 35 percent less than the $1.1 trillion lost in 2010, according to new research from Zillow, a real estate information marketplace.

What else did the research show? Just nine out of 128 markets analyzed had gains in values in 2011. Bragging rights go to the New Orleans area, where the gains were greatest at $3.5 billion. Pittsburgh claimed the number two spot with a gain of $2.7 billion. Read more…

Homebuilder Confidence Rises to Highest Level Since Spring 2010

Rising interest from would-be buyers is leaving U.S. homebuilders less pessimistic about the housing market. But tighter lending standards are still keeping many potential buyers from purchasing new homes.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose two points to 21 in December. That’s the highest level since May 2010. It’s just the second time the index has been at 20 or above in two years. Read More…

U.S. Job Market Ends Year in Better Shape

WASHINGTON — The long-suffering job market is ending the year better off than it began.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits each week has dropped by 10 percent since January. The unemployment rate, 8.6 percent in November, is at its lowest level in nearly three years.

Factory output is rising, business owners say they’re more optimistic about hiring, and consumer confidence has jumped to its highest level since April. Even the beleaguered housing market is looking slightly better.

“We are ending the year on an up note,” says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

Still, 25 million Americans remain out of work or unable to find full-time jobs. Most analysts forecast a stronger economy and job growth in 2012 — and rule out a second recession — but they caution that could change if Europe’s debt crisis worsens or consumers pull back on spending. Read more…

Century 21 M&M is here to help with all of your real estate needs. From Residential to Commercial to Ag & Ranch, feel free to give us a call, whether you plan on buying or selling in the coming weeks, or even months from now. Our qualified Realtors will address all of your concerns and walk with you step-by-step through the transaction process. Call today – 800-350-1548.

Merry Christmas from Century 21 M&M and Associates

Sharing some our favorite Christmas Quotations…

Merry Christmas from Century 21 M&M and AssociatesChristmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.~Calvin Coolidge

Christmas… is not an external event at all, but a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart.~Freya Stark

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.~Norman Vincent Peale

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  ~Charles Dickens

The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value. ~Charles Dudley Warner

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through! ~Author Unknown

John Melo and Larry Matos would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

7 Steps to Get Ready for Home Ownership in 2012

The American Dream has long included home ownership. However, with interest rates and home prices at an all-time low, Century 21 M&M Realtors are finding that many potential home buyers are sitting on the sidelines.

In fact, many Americans today are choosing to ‘proceed-with-caution’. The current economic condition is just too unsettling. They are concerned about their job, their savings and their ability to actually get a loan.


What is important to remember is – real estate is cyclical. Overall, people who invest in real estate for the long haul gain about 10% a year.

So if you are thinking about buying a home in 2012, or even 2013, there are some steps you may want to take right now.

Step 1. Go to online and start researching. Decide what your ‘must-haves’ are, and what you can live without. Play with the home affordability calculators, the closing cost estimators, mortgage rate calculators, local school rankings, etc.

Step 2. Open a dialog with a Century 21 M&M Realtor, whether you are planning on buying a home in the next few months, or even a year from now. Buying a home can be fun, but it is a serious and important purchase requiring expert advice and assistance. And, now is the time to get some up-front expert advice regarding the home buying process.

Step 3. Talk with a Mortgage Professional and get Pre-Approved. Find out ahead of getting serious about buying a home what you can afford, and if there are any credit issues that need to be addressed. Now is the time to determine how much cash you are going to need to bring to the table. And, don’t forget – no matter how much cash you’ve saved you are going to need a cash cushion. After closing you will want that extra cash, for move-in costs; repairs, window coverings, maybe even new appliances.

Step 4. Establish a time frame. At this point know how much cash you need and you may need to save for the down payment. Or, you may need to fix your credit score. Whatever the issue, establish and expected time frame, then start working towards that goal.

Step 5. Downsize your stuff. You know you need to get rid of some stuff, so sell it, donate it or give it away. Clearing the mental clutter that physical clutter creates will minimize your anxiety when it is time to move.

Step 6. Sit tight. Don’t make any major changes that will affect your financial future. Don’t quit your job to start a business, at least not yet. Don’t liquidate your retirement fund, or pull a bunch of cash from your savings account without getting the okay from your mortgage professional.

Step 7. When its time, call your Century 21 M&M Realtor and get started in the process of finding the perfect home, in the right neighborhood.

2012 may be the perfect year to buy a home.

Many experts are forecasting that home prices will bottom out this year and mortgage rates are at record lows. So start by getting your finances in order and get ready to achieve the American Dream of home ownership.

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas at Century 21 M&M

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Northern California real estate offices of Century 21 M&M. We are participating in local parades, having dinners and luncheons, and collecting Coats for Kids and a Canned Foods drive.

Fairfield Coats for Kids, Wine & Cheese Event

Oakdale Office Door

Oakdale Coats for Kids and Canned Foods

Los Banos Canned Goods

Los Banos Coats for Kids

Stockton Office Coats for Kids

Turlock Christmas Parade

Turlock Coats for Kids

Turlock Canned Food Drive

Lodi Parade of Lights

Lodi Christmas Parade Float

Ricardo Jimenez brought in 147 coats to Modesto

Madera Canned Food Drive

Madera Coats for Kids

Sign of the Times; A Growing Number of Single Women are Buying Homes

women home buyersDid you know that website demographics indicate that Women in the 55-65 age group are the primary visitors to Real Estate websites in Northern California. Many of those women are single and a growing number of single women are buying a home of their own.

In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), almost twice as many single women (about 20%) are buying homes then single men (12%). The reason? Because they can.

Today, women make up more than 50% of the workforce, and even in this challenging economy, women are poised for success.

Recent studies show that 58% of all people earning college degrees are women. Women today are earning significant salaries and it is important for them to build wealth and security through home ownership.

A Sign of the Times:

As recently as the 1970s, it was challenging for a woman to get a mortgage or even a credit card. These days credit companies no longer discriminate against women, and the overall acceptance of women’s equality in the workplace has contributed to a spike in home-buying by single women.

Here are some tips for single women considering home ownership;

  • Gather up your financial information and get pre-approved – Call a Century 21 Mortgage Professional before you call a Century 21M&M Realtor. It will make the process of buying a home a lot easier if you know how much home you can qualify for.
  • Make a list of home features that you can’t live without—Focus your search on finding a property that will meet your needs today and in the future
  • Being fiscally responsible pays off—Cutting spending on luxury and nonessential items helps women (and men) maintain a stable financial history.
  • Know that beyond the mortgage, as a home owner you need to be prepared to cover the cost of home maintenance—You’ll need to anticipate new expenses, such as landscaping and garbage removal. Use the mortgage calculator tool on www.century21.com to calculate your monthly payments. Knowing these costs up front will allow you to set a realistic budget for your first year of home ownership.
  • Talk to an expert—Combine advice from friends and family with that of a trained professionals.

“Achieving the American dream of homeownership continues to be a worthy goal,” said Rick Davidson, president and CEO, Century 21 Real Estate. “I encourage all potential homebuyers to speak with a qualified real estate professional.”