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I moved this blog over to a new server and will no longer be updating from this address (  The new URL is


First Time Buyers – Don’t File Your 2008 Tax Return Yet!

The IRS announced today that you may include your first time buyer’s tax credit to your 2008 tax return!  That means you can get $8000 back this year, even if you didn’t buy your house until 2009!

Rebate Money

I am not a tax expert, so please check with one to verify this, but the instructions at the IRS website says “for first-time homebuyers who purchase in 2009, the maximum credit is $8,000 and can be claimed on a buyer’s 2008 federal tax return.”

I was really surprised, because I always thought that tax returns could only include the financial activity for the year you are reporting.  If you file before buying a house, maybe you can file an ammended return to get that money sooner.  I’ll contact a couple of tax pros and get some opinions on that in the next couple of days!

I’m moving this blog

I am working on moving this blog off to a new server, so there may be some technical difficulties in the next few days.  Please try again later if you get an error – it will be back!

Orange County Market Update

The market continues to be busy in the lower end of the price range, and bank-owned and short sales are making up about 61% of all closed sales in Orange County. 

Today, there are a total of 11,577 homes for sale in Orange County.   Of those, 4783 (42%) are labeled as either bank owned or short sales.  Of the 4363 that are currently in escrow, 2925 (68%) are distressed.  In the last 30 days, 1018 (61%), of the 1653 closings were distressed.

Buyers are looking for the best values that they can find, and the best priced homes are usually bank owned.  Short sales are closing more often than in the past, but it is still frustrating for a buyer to make an offer, then have to wait weeks or months to get an answer from the lender.  It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the President’s new stimulus plan will have.  

The latest foreclosure listings are now posted for selected cities or areas in South Orange County.  If you are looking in an area that I haven’t included, please let me know and I’ll run the list just for you!

Other posts like this:

2008 End of Year Report 
2008 Orange County Mid-Year Report
2007 Orange County Sales Report

Search the 11,500+ homes in Orange County

Thanks for visiting!

Vicki Lloyd

Lake Forest Market Update – January Sales Report

January closed sales in Lake Forest, California were less than December, but still better than January 2008.  A total of 39 homes and condos closed this year, versus only 20 last year, an improvement of 95%!    

Single family homes :

20 homes closed escrow in January.  Foreclosures or short sales were 14 of the 20, so 70% of the sales were “distressed”.  The average price came to $498,512 ($270/square foot).  The *median was $473,500. 

The least expensive single family home in January was reported in the MLS as closed at $310,000 although when checking the title records, it shows a sales price of $330,000 with a $326,701 FHA loan.  (?)  I am only guessing, but the seller must have paid some closing costs and the buyer’s loan amount includes the upfront mortgage insurance premium along with some other closing costs.  The other possibility is that the listing agent made a typo when entering the closed price, and hasn’t corrected it.

The most expensive home sold in January closed at $795,000 ($245/square foot.)  It had been on the market since 4/07/08 and had been reduced 8 times from $919,900 down to $799,900 when it finally sold.  If the seller had priced it correctly to begin with, he would have saved 8 months of interest payments, taxes, insurance, and HOA dues, which I calculated to be worth a little over $30,000!

Condos & Townhomes:

19 condos or townhomes were closed in January.  Foreclosures and short sales made up all but one of them, so 95% of the January condo sales were “distressed”!  The average sales price was $209,350 ($194/square foot) and the median price was $210,000. 

The least expensive condo was a 2 bedroom with 944 square feet that sold for over list price ($124,900) at $133,000 ($141/square foot).  The buyer put down 20%, so I am guessing that he is an investor who will rent it out.  With total payments (PITI+HOA) of less than $950/month, that investor should have a positive cash flow of $150 – $200 each month.  

The most expensive condo sold also happened to be the only condo that was not distressed.  It had 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and a 2 car garage and sold for $345,000 ($252/square foot) after 75 days and a 10% price reduction.  I found it interesting that it only took 10 days at the corrected price to attract the final buyer!

 *The median is the price where 1/2 of the homes sold for more, and the other half sold for less.

Property Tax Scams!

Yesterday I found in my mailbox an official looking letter from “Property Tax Assessment Adjusters, LLC”. In addition to a lot of legalese type verbage, it said:

IMPORTANT : Upon a preliminary check your assessed value appears to be higher than your current market value. You may obtain property tax relief, even if you have received a reduction for a previous tax year.

For a fee of only $93, they will “advocate as my agent for the purposes of filing an application, answering all questions pertinent to the inquiry, attending a hearing, and accepting a modified assessment through the Assessor or the Assessment Appeals Board.”

Our former Governor, and current Attorney General, Jerry Brown, warned today that many of these companies are complete scams and will only take your money and disappear while you patiently wait for your tax adjustment.

This is something that most homeowners can do for themselves, by contacting their county’s assessor’s office and asking about it. There are a few forms to fill out, and it helps if your local real estate agent can provide a list of the current comps (call me if you are in Orange County!), but the proceedure is very simple and shouldn’t cost you more than the price of a stamp!

The Orange County Tax Assessor’s website has a good explanation of the process, and forms available to download.



 Search ALL the homes for sale in the Southern California MLS  (there must be at least one that you like!)

Don’t miss the next exciting update to this blog – click on the envelope to be notified by email!  )

 Click here to receive updates by email

Thanks for visiting!

Vicki Lloyd

Foreclosure Listings in South Orange County

Foreclosure sign

Foreclosure properties continue to lead the market in Orange County home sales.  In the last three months, 2,438 out of the 5,907 sales (41%) have been bank-owned properties! 

Sometimes, these homes are agressively priced to immediately attract buyers, which leads to multiple offers and results in selling for over the list price!  The average time on the market for these REOs is only 36 days – almost twice as fast as the average 69 days that non-REOs are taking. 

In order to buy one of these homes from a bank, you need to be pre-approved and non-contingent on the sale of any other property.  They also almost always require that you “pre-qual” with their selected loan officer.

With foreclosed homes making up such a large portion of our active real estate market, I’ve set up a new page on this blog where I will post the REO lists for each city in South Orange County.  If there is an area that I’ve left out, please let me know and I’ll send out exactly what you want!

If you aren’t looking for an REO, take a look at all the other properties available:
 Search ALL the homes for sale in the Southern California MLS  (there must be at least one that you like!)

Don’t miss the next exciting update to this blog – click on the envelope to be notified by email!  )

 Click here to receive updates by email

Thanks for visiting!

Vicki Lloyd