Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Being a Christian, I love the Christmas season. It brings hope and laughter and love, even in economic recessions. It reminds us to be kind, faithful, patient. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!

We think about our neighbors more during the Christmas season. We reflect on their choice of decorations (indoor and outdoor.) We listen more intently to their declarations (in church and out .) We have expectations of their kindness and consideration. We are reminded of bible verses and hymns. Unfortunately, we are also sometimes reminded of the old addage, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." This, my friends, is a "high profile" season. Whether you're a shopkeeper, neighbor, relative, teacher, fellow student, employee, sports fan, politico or zealot of one sort or another, this season shines a light on you in so many, many ways.

I recently wrote about my experience with a local business owner in my Facebook...how I felt wronged by his less than stellar business policy and questionable ethics...how I felt cheated by his treatment, not just financially but emotionally as well. I pledged a vendetta of negative marketing as my revenge. I had all the tools at my disposal. I devised a plan to bring him to justice. Then I realized how much energy it takes to wage such a war or to even envision it. I began to rethink my plan. How much better might it be to try to help people avoid being ripped off by simply educating them about the problem. How short lived my vendetta would have been versus how long lasting and far reaching my informational tips could be. I reflected on various ways to help others avoid being ripped off both during the Holiday Season and throughout the year instead. I relected on a quote by Isaac Bashevis Singer...

Life is God's Novel, Let him write it!
In that decision was my clarity. How we move forward in life is a statement of who we are and how we love. In checking our own perspective, we can influence others as well. As the cat in the photo teaches us, there's a lot more going on than we'll ever really understand individually. With the help of our friends and neighbors and relatives and yes, even those who disparage us or rip us off, comes life's lessons to be learned and shared for their worth and value - as opposed to their pain and suffering. In this season, as in all seasons, We Are Not Alone.

God Bless Us Everyone and

Merry Christmas!!

Oh, and by the way, if you want my recommendations for businesses and service people in the South Bay, please visit my Online Business Directory

and I'm NEVER too busy for your referrals!

Wish you a safe and joyous Holiday
and a Prosperous and Engaging 2010!

Monday, November 9, 2009

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended Into 2010!

Plus...A New Tax Credit for Certain Existing Home Owners!

It's official. President Obama has signed a bill that extends the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs) into the first half of 2010. This program had been scheduled to expire on November 30, 2009.

In addition to extending the tax credit of up to $8,000 through June 30, 2010, the extension measure also opens up opportunities for others who are not buying a home for the first time.

So,  Who Gets What?

The program that has existed for FTHBs remains intact with the one exception that more people are now eligible based on an increase in the amount of income someone may now earn.

Additionally, the program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.


In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010.

Higher Income Caps in Effect

The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has also been increased. Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible.

Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

Maximum Purchase Price

Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sales price of $800,000.

Frequently Asked Questions...

What is a tax credit?

A tax credit is a direct reduction in tax liability owed by an individual to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In the event no taxes are owed, the IRS will issue a check for the amount of the tax credit an individual is owed. Unlike the tax credit that existed in 2008, this credit does not require repayment unless the home, at any time in the first 36 months of ownership, is no longer an individual's primary residence.

What is the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs)?

An eligible homebuyer may request from the IRS a tax credit of up to $8,000 or 10% of the purchase price for a home. If the amount of the home purchased is $75,000, the maximum amount the credit can be is $7,500. If the amount of the home is $100,000, the amount of the credit may not exceed $8,000.

Who is eligible for the FTHB tax credit?

Anyone who has not owned a primary residence in the previous 36 months, prior to closing and the transfer of title, is eligible. This applies both to single taxpayers and married couples. In the case where there is a married couple, if either spouse has owned a primary residence in the last 36 months, neither would qualify. In the case where an individual has owned property that has not been a primary residence, such as a second home or investment property, that individual would be eligible.

How do I claim the credit?

For those taking advantage of the tax credit in 2009, you may choose to either apply for the credit with your 2009 tax return or you may apply for the credit sooner by filing an amended 2008 tax return with Form 5405 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5405.pdf

Can I claim the tax credit in advance of purchasing a property?

No. The IRS has recently begun prosecuting people who have claimed credits where a purchase had not taken place.

Can a taxpayer claim a credit if the property is purchased from a seller with seller financing and the seller retains title to the property?

Yes. In situations where the buyer purchases the property, even though the seller retains legal title, the taxpayer may file for the credit. Examples of this would include a land contract, contract for deed, etc. According to the IRS, factors that would demonstrate the ownership of the property would include: 1. the right of possession, 2. the right to obtain legal title upon full payment of the purchase price, 3. the right to construct improvements, 4. the obligation to pay property taxes, 5. the risk of loss, 6. the responsibility to insure the property and 7. the duty to maintain the property.

Are there other restrictions to taking the credit?

Yes. According to the IRS, if any of the following describe your situation, a credit would not be due.

You buy your home from a close relative. This includes your spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild.

You do not use the home as your principal residence.

You sell your home before the end of the year.

You are a nonresident alien.

You owned a principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase of your new home. For example, if you bought a home on July 1, 2009, you cannot take the credit for that home if you owned, or had an ownership interest in, another principal residence at any time from July 2, 2006, through July 1, 2009.

Can you buy a home from a step-relative and be eligible for the credit?

Yes. Provided the person you are buying a home from is not a direct blood relative, the purchase would be allowed.

Can parent(s) who will not live in the property cosign for a mortgage for their child and the child that is a qualifying FTHB still be eligible for the credit?


Can a separated spouse who has not owned a home for four years qualify for the FTHB tax credit if the spouse has owned a property anytime in the last three years?

No. However, the spouse may be eligible for the repeat buyer credit. The best path to take in any situation regarding income taxes is to speak with a professional tax preparer or CPA.

If you have any additional questions about the First Time Home Buyers Credit or any other real estate related questions please call me anytime. If your question needs to be answered by a CPA or tax preparer and you do not currently have one, I'll be glad to refer you to one in my network.

And of course, I am NEVER too busy for your business or referrals. Please let me know how I may be of service to you with any of your South Bay or Southern California Real Estate Needs. I also have a great network of brokers outside our area ready to handle your business as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

California Association of Realtors 2010 Market Forecast

Here's a summary of the 2009-2010 Market Analysis and Forecast by the California Association of Realtors Chief Economist Leslie Appleton Young. I have the 100 page document in PDF for all areas of California. If you would like information for any particular area or market, let me know and I'll send it to you.

By Leslie Appleton Young

The median home price in California will rise 3.3 percent to $280,000 in 2010 compared with a projected median of $271,000 this year, according to C.A.R.’s "2010 California Housing Market Forecast," presented today at CALIFORNIA REALTOR® EXPO 2009 in San Jose. Sales for 2010 are projected to decrease 2.3 percent to 527,500 units, compared with 540,000 units (projected) in 2009.

“California’s housing market continued its strong sales rebound this year, resulting from the continued pace of distressed properties coming to market,” said C.A.R. President James Liptak. “This follows two years of double-digit sales declines in 2006 and 2007. Looking ahead, we expect sales to moderate to a more sustainable pace.”

“After experiencing its sharpest decline in history, we expect the median price to rise modestly next year,” Liptak added. “2010 will mark the beginning of the ‘new normal’ for California’s housing market. This ‘new normal’ likely will feature a steady stream of sales driven by distressed properties in the low end of the market, coupled with moderate home-price appreciation.”

“With distressed properties accounting for nearly one-third of the sales in 2010, inventory will be relatively lean, under six months during the off-season months, and a roughly four-month supply during the peak season,” said C.A.R. and Vice President Leslie Appleton-Young. “We expect the median price to decrease slightly through the remainder of 2009 and into next year, then rise before leveling off next summer. For the year as a whole, home prices are forecast to reach $280,000. The wild cards for 2010 include foreclosures, loan resets, the labor market, and the California budget crisis, as well as the actions of the federal government.”

(The photo at the top is for my new listing at 12 Avenida De Camelia in Rancho Palos Verdes. You can view all the additional pics and information at http://www.12avenidadecamelia.com/ or call me for your private preview today!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

End of Summer BBQ 2009


A Big Thanks to all who made Team South Bay's End of Summer BBQ 2009 such a great PARTY! And a special SHOUT OUT to our favorite Rock N Roll Band "Odds N Ends" who did a fabulous job of entertaining us and making us sing and dance to good old Rock N' Roll! We all forgot about the 90 degree heat and proceeded with the kind of Grillin and Chillin that can only be done here in the Pines...Check out some of our Magic Moments here and in our special Album on Facebook.
Thanks to all my special clients and neighbors and friends who support us with fabulous referrals all year long - we do this for you and have a good time too ...Who could ask for more?
Charlie and Team South Bay Salute You!
p.s. Don't forget to check out our

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The weather has finally begun to show signs of summer. June gloom is edging away and the sunny Southern California sun has finally begun her tour across the South Bay. The air in the mornings is crisp and clean. As I walk with my dogs through the tall Pine trees, everything smells fresh and sweet at 6:00 a.m. with temperatures in the low 60's. Lomita Pines Photos

Now it's about Noon ... the sun begins to beat down ... and beat down... and beat down... and temperatures rise and my dogs find shelter on the cool stone floors, begging not to be put outdoors. I begin to remember those hot summer days I used to frolic through when I was 10. Now they create rivulets of sweat coarsing down my back but I digress...It is definately summer. 90 degrees+ Not normal!

Here in the South Bay we enjoy very mild weather patterns. We are actually quite spoiled by the weather. The cool breezes off the ocean or the harbor (depending on which side of the Peninsula your home is attached) keep us quite comfortable. We rarely use air conditioning. We pride ourselves on our conservative use of electricity in the summer.

At 5:00 I did it! I turned on the air conditioning. I just wanted to cool things down a tad before getting prepared for an evening event. Just a few hours of air conditioning usually do the trick. About 7:00 I headed for the master bedroom to get ready to go out. I walked into the master bath and there was a new "water feature" not unlike the one in my patio, but upside down so to speak. Water was not dripping but pouring from the light fixture in my bathroom. My brain went into shock as I tried to figure out what would cause such a thing to happen. The dogs and I watched for a few seconds and then it hit me. It had to be the air conditioner. The furnace is poised right above the bath. I pulled open the attic door and sure enough, water was pouring from the condensation tubing which should have been entering the drain provided for it's collection. I rushed to shut down the air conditioner and gathered up a mop and towels and started cleaning up the new lake in my bathroom.

Since this is the beginning of the summer season for many of you, my story is meant as a reminder. Many of us have not used our air conditioner for six months or more. Many things can occur in that period of time. The drains get clogged, The tubing escapes from the fittings. Mold has formed in the tube or drain. Remember to remind your clients (and friends and husbands or wives) that summertime is a good time for an air conditioning "dust and clean." We change the filters and vacuum the vents but we don't think about the fragile mechanical parts until something like this happens. It's not a bad idea to have the air conditioning people take a peek and make sure you're ready for the season! Flooding does not help to cool the house in the summer ...
By the way, if you need a few recommendations for help around the house, check my Business Referral Directory and let them know that Charlie sent you - they'll take good care of you!

Good luck and God Bless. Let me know if you have any helpful hints for homeowners preparing for the summer season.


Monday, May 18, 2009


After dinner last night I was typing in my Face Book when something picked up my house and plopped it back down again...
I had a glass of wine on my desk and I watched my glass in amazement as it hopped up and righted itself without losing a drop! One of my dogs, however, was not as confident about the situation as my wine glass seemed to be. She threw open the patio screen and tried to fit all 125 pounds of her quivering fur self into my lap, pushing the other dogs and my keyboard and waste basket clean out of her way.

I've lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years (I believe that makes me a native, doesn't it?) I've survived the Northridge Quake, several Long Beach bursts and a host of assorted mini movers and shakers. Each time the drill is the same...quiet the dogs, carefully look around the house for broken glass and eventually venture outdoors to check for any broken pipes or evidence of foundation shifting, fallen trees or shaken neighbors. Here in the South Bay, we have been very blessed. We sit on a good deal of bedrock and have tested our homes' flexibility enough times to feel fairly safe. Of course, Redondo Beach is within Tsunami reach and Palos Verdes has the Long Beach fault running through it (as well as Lomita, Harbor City, San Pedro and Wilmington.) Needless to say, we still catch our breath when the rumbling starts.

I'm a certified CERT member (Community Emergency Response Team) and was trained in Redondo Beach by some of the best fire fighters in Los Angeles County! We completed some drills that would make Grey's Anatomy (the TV program on Thursday nights) look like Romper Room. We learned how to triage the neighborhood and toe tag the casualties. We learned how to shut off gas service to prevent fires and handle water shut offs before broken pipes turn houses into swimming pools. We learned how to store food and supplies and prepare to help others in assorted states of emergency. We learned how to comply with FEMA rules, give first aid, give CPR, use Cribbing, how to use Fire Extinguishers and to work on a hoseline operation.

Of course, non of the above can prepare you emotionally for any actual event but it helps. Those first few crucial moments when your mind snaps into place and fear retreats, come a lot faster with this training. I sincerely suggest that everyone reading my blog consider checking with your local city or county to find a CERT program to prepare you to help yourself, your family, your neighbors and your community in a time of crisis. We know it's coming. We know we must prepare. We should also be conscious that this kind of training may save your life or the lives of your loved ones and all it takes is one night a week for a few weeks. You won't be sorry - you'll be glad you did it.

By the way, they don't train how to catch a Great Pyreness dog flying at you across a room in emotional distress. Call me and I'll give you some pointers!

Monday, May 11, 2009

What is a Certified Distressed Property Expert?

All markets have a certain percentage of homes or homeowners who are distressed. Distressed could reference the condition of the property, the state of the homeowners finances, the reduced value of a property because of poor market conditions...there are many variations. In a healthy market one can expect about 1 to 3% of properties/homeowners to be "distressed." In some areas today, distressed properties may number as many as 1 in 10.

Here in the South Bay area we are quite fortunate. We are experiencing somewhere in the area of 1 in 75 homeowners facing either some loss of income, property in foreclosure (or currently behind in payments) or mortgages adjusting to sometimes double the original monthly payment. Our values have declined but generally only 25 to 35% (varies from city to city.) This is good news for us geographically. For a homeowner who just lost a job and is facing an increase in his/her mortgage payment because of an adjustable rate mortgage at a time when their value has decreased possibly under their loan balance, the news is not so great.
Many times, these homeowners try to work with their lender (loss mitigation departments) to work out a payment plan or rewrite their loans for lower payment amounts (with the owed balance tacked on the back end.) Check Government Site: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/ When the lender can't help and the homeowner must sell the home to avoid foreclosure, my expertise as a Certified Distressed Property Expert applies. In working with a "short sale" (loan balance is higher than market value) the first thing a homeowner must do is put their property on the market. Homeowners must choose a Realtor who has the specific training to work with the lender and help them through this process in the most efficient and painless way possible. Call me for a free confidential consultation to help determine whether you, a friend or a loved one may be a candidate for a "short sale."

In my next few blogs, I will be going through some additional information to help distressed property owners. In the meantime, I will be putting together a new website http://www.teamsouthbayshortsales.com/ and will be posting information on the website to answer some of your questions, especially the biggest question regarding FORECLOSURE vs. SHORT SALE.

Call anytime for no obligation information: 310-534-3940

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Rain Always Stops!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mark Twain and his good friend the writer, William Howells were leaving church on Sunday when it began to rain heavily. Howells looked up at the clouds and said, “Do you think it will stop?” “It always has,” replied Twain…
I started working in the real estate business in 1979. Interest rates were 17%. Banks were not lending. In order to sell homes, we were “wrapping” loans, doing AITD’s and using many other methods, which by today’s standards would probably result in a quick indictment at best in some cases. People were losing their homes then too, but we survived.In the early 90’s we experienced a similar climate. The economy (especially in my area) was challenged by many factors. We lost our aerospace economic foundation in the South Bay. California lost many profitable manufacturing businesses to other states. Again, some of our families lost their homes, their jobs, their dignity but we survived.
In comparison, more than 1000 banks closed in 1930 – only 14 U.S. banks were taken over in 2008. There are 76 million households in the U.S. that own their home - 24 million of these homes are FREE AND CLEAR! There are 52 million homes with mortgages - 97.2% of these are NOT in foreclosure, 93.8% of these homes are CURRENT on their payments.I see the clouds in the sky too but I also see that clouds cannot remain constant, by their very nature. Time passes, things chance and as the philosopher Heraclitus said “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.” Enjoy this time of abundance for many and growth and change for us all. Make the most of the positive aspects of today’s economy. It’s never as bleak as the media portrays. Remember, bad news sells, good news revives and this too shall pass.
Call for help if you have a loan challenge. As a Certified Distressed Property Expert, I can help you in saving your home or help you in purchasing one of todays abundant REO’s or “short sales.” As my friend Sam always tells me “It’s all good, Charlie, it’s all good.” The rain always stops!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Something of a mystery to many right now is how to maneuver in today's real estate market to avoid the pitfalls in Short Pays and REO's. Having been in this business for going on 30 years, I've seen the bottoms fall out before. We know that no business can continue in one direction forever. That said, what happens next in this climate? Do you reinvent your portfolio?Do you change your career? Do you give up on home ownership? NO TO ALL THREE.
I don't like to use the term "change" as I am not on that Band Wagon. Instead, I am a conservative Republican ... there I said it! I am not opposed to capitalism. I believe we should all be responsible for what we create - positive or negative. I don't believe the government should bail us out of our own mistakes. Along those lines, it's time to take stock of who you are and what you are willing to do to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and make some "lemonade." If you have some savings and are willing to invest, REO's today are an excellent choice. Interest rates are at an all time low. Banks are now prepared to finance again. This is going to sound like a Dennis Miller rant but everyone should stop whining and start focusing. There are too many opportunities being overlooked right now. Instead we are listening to the media use soundbites to direct us to others' agendas. Let's start taking care of ourselves. Let's use the word POSSIBILITY again in the right context.

Let's move forward America - the only real "bail out" we need is the removal of the wax from our ears and the glue from our feet. MOVE FORWARD now. Use these opportunities to create your possiblities - YOUR CHANGE! Be in charge and prosper. If you need help, call me. I'll push you in the right direction!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE! Charlie's 2008 Client Appreciation Party

The year 2008 ended with a house full of gratitude! My Annual Client Appreciation Party was so much fun. My heart was full to see all my wonderful clients enjoying themselves and chatting with neighbors and friends they had yet to meet. We had a great Pasta Bar (let me know if you need some recipes for your next party) and tons of baked goods and refreshments. Our star of the day was Michael Garisek, a renowned Caricature Artist. Everyone hooted and hollered when they saw Michael's renditions of the kids and parents based on his investigation of their hobbies, sports interests and spontaneous bursts of laughter and information about each other. Michael was our entertainment last year and was such a hit we invited him back again for the people who missed last year's celebration. We were sure happy to have him.

I want to thank everyone for making 2008 a GREAT year for me and Team South Bay. We appreciate you and are very grateful for your business, your friendship and your referrals. We are looking forward to a FINE 2009, so please let us know how we may be of service for any of your real estate needs! Also, don't forget to check our Business Referral Directory for local shops and trades. We all love to work by referral and are accountable to each other to make sure you, our customers and clients are always happy with the results!

Happy New Year and God Bless!