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Debbie Olson
North Woods Realty, INC
340 Highway 101 North
Crescent City, CA 95531
Phone: 707-218-8055
Email: northwoodsrealty@hotmail.com

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Consumer Tips

The Burglar Did What?! 5 Most Bizarre Home Break-Ins Ever

The Burglar Did What?! 5 Most Bizarre Home Break-Ins Ever

YiorgosGR/iStock

Having your home broken into is a frightening experience. And sometimes, it can end up being frightening and strange. Because while most burglars just want to nab your valuables then skedaddle without being caught, others might display far more mind-boggling behaviors. Whether you need a kick in the pants to go get a home security system or just want a laugh, check out these bizarre break-ins to get a load of burglars’ odder impulses.

1. Pizza, anyone?

Imagine arriving home to a pizza baking in your oven. Yum, right? Well, not if the pizza baker was an intruder, wearing your slippers, making dinner for his two kids (also present!).

According to Oklahoma News Channel 4, in July 2013 a man named Montego Logan slipped into a home in Oklahoma City along with his daughters, then actually welcomed home the place’s real resident, who freaked out (as expected) and called the cops. It wasn’t until they arrived and questioned him about his so-called “home” that he became violent and was arrested. Sadly, we’ll bet the homeowner will never look at pizza the same way ever again.

pizza
A pizza-baking burglar?

Shutterstock

2. Cold (or hot) feet

In 2014, homeowners in Allentown, PA, were thrilled when they sold their home for $403,000 to John Pfeiffer Jr. But according to Philadelphia magazine, during the home sellers’ last night sleeping in the house, mere hours before closing, they caught Pfeiffer breaking into the home he’d own later that day. Um, why?

After police found two cans of charcoal lighter fluid, hickory chips, and latex gloves in Pfeiffer’s car nearby, they suspected he might have been planning to burn down the house because he didn’t have the money he needed to close the deal. So was this his weird way of saying he wanted to back out? According to court documents, Pfeiffer was charged with burglary and criminal mischief.

3. God’s work?

When you’ve known someone for 10 years, you wouldn’t think that individual would rob your home. Especially on Christmas eve. Especially not your pastor.

In 2010, neighbors called the cops after watching a woman break into the home next door; police arrived to find her carrying fur coats into her Jaguar.

According to the Dallas Morning News, this fur thief told the cops that she was merely protecting the valuables by moving them to a safer location. However, when homeowner Serita Agnew arrived home and heard what had happened, she didn’t buy it. She identified the intruder as Sandy McGriff, a 52-year-old pastor of a nearby church where she was once a member. And it turns out this woman of the cloth had a rap sheet stretching back to her youth. We highly doubt God would approve.

4. A Facebook obsession gone wrong

Apparently the threat of going to prison isn’t enough to keep some people off their Facebook accounts. Here’s proof: In 2014, Nick Wig allegedly broke into a house in Minneapolis and stole some cash, a checkbook, credit cards, and a watch, according to ABC News. He could have had a clean getaway, and yet, unable to resist the siren call of a laptop nearby, he logged in to his Facebook account … then left it open for the homeowner, James Wood, to peruse once he returned.

Wood, discovering his valuables gone, called the police and studied Wig’s Facebook page carefully. He then kept his eyes peeled while driving around town—and, as luck would have it, spotted Wig later that day walking around, wearing his stolen watch. Wig was charged with burglary, but we’re not sure if this cured him of his Facebook obsession.

5. Make yourself at home!

Ever drive by a beautiful house and think, “Wow, I wish that were my home”? Well, in September 2015, Christopher Hiscock had such a thought while cruising by a ranch in Kamloops, British Columbia. Then he decided to pull into the driveway, walk right in (the door was open), and make himself comfortable.

From there, Hiscock, 33, immediately started straightening up the place. According to CBC News Nova Scotia, he did the owners’ laundry, fed their cats and horses, then showered and shaved. He even wrote in the real homeowners’ diary: “Day one. Today was my first full day at the ranch … So much I can do here I have to remind myself to just relax and take my time.”

Oddly, Hiscock’s diary entry betrays a vague awareness that this home was not his: “I saw a picture in the basement on the wall of a man holding and weighing fish on a boat. Looking at him, I realized we look a lot alike but I think I’m more handsome. :)’”

The real homeowners found him sipping coffee and watching TV, a frozen steak thawing on their kitchen counter. The police were called, and Hiscock was arrested. Hiscock, who was later released on probation, told authorities that he had no home and might just go live in the woods.

The post The Burglar Did What?! 5 Most Bizarre Home Break-Ins Ever appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Buyer Blocks: 4 Factors Keeping Millennials From Owning a Home

Buyer Blocks: 4 Factors Keeping You From Owning a Home

mj0007/iStock

Since the market crash, many prospective first-time home buyers have been fighting an uphill battle on their path to homeownership. Certainly it isn’t for lack of trying. While millennials might be the largest group of first-time buyers, according to the NAR, they face a whole slew of daunting challenges before they can sign on the dotted line.

And here’s the kicker: Some of these hiccups are mostly out of their control. Bummer.

Here are some of those factors that could be barring millennials from homeownership. (They have our sincere sympathy, alas.) 

1. College costs more than they bargained for

Student loans are this generation’s beast of burden. The national average for 2016 graduates remains around $37,172, up 6% from last year.

“Student loan debt raises the debt-to-income ratio of borrowers, making it hard to qualify for the amount of a loan they’d need,” explains Robert Farrington, founder of TheCollegeInvestor.com. In 2015, Federal Housing Administration loans, which once ignored deferred student debt, started factoring it into applicants’ DTI.

So what can millennials do if they’re saddled with college debt? Farrington says their key focus should be on getting those monthly payments into a manageable position. One tactic is refinancing their federal loans into a private loan, “which could offer lower interest rates and more flexible payment options,” he says. Another option: Paying more each month to reduce their debt at a faster rate.

Understand that refinancing can be a double-edged sword when it comes to federal student loans. Income-driven repayment plans offered by the government will vanish once the federal loan is refinanced with a private loan company. So millennials should go into it with their eyes wide open. It makes sense to refinance if they can afford their standard repayment plan and don’t qualify for debt forgiveness they might be privy to if they work in a service or teaching job.

2. Someone else screwed up their credit

Generally, you can control your credit with patience and a good understanding of how to get a decent credit score. But if someone hijacks your identity, the thief can wreak havoc on your dreams of homeownership. Even a family member.

“I had a client whose parents took out the accounts in his name when he was a child, and didn’t ever pay them,” recalls Rebecca Bell, a broker with Alpha Mortgage Corporation, in Wilmington, NC. “It knocked this prospective buyer’s score below 500. It was impossible for anyone to lend to him and took him years to fix.”

In this case, the client should have been checking his score periodically. Bell recommends putting a fraud alert on the reports from all three credit bureaus. This flags your account for extra protection, so if something odd happens, the bureau will call to confirm it with you before trashing your score.

3. The rent is too damn high

It’s no secret that rent in metro areas is skyrocketing. And higher rent means less money for everything else.

“In California, what we’re seeing is that renters are devoting increasingly more of their paychecks to cover their rising rents, which means they have less money to save for a down payment,” says Kevin Stein, associate director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, an organization that advocates for low-income communities.

Being stuck in a classic renter’s limbo is frustrating. If millennials are set on owning, the best thing they can do is create a budget and start saving what they can. It might mean sacrificing some comfort—like their own apartment or a short commute—to get cheaper rent and secure a property in the future.

4. Their competition has bags of cash

In some areas, the people millennials are up against don’t have 20% down; they have 100% down. All-cash offers from investors can be tough to beat. The “pecking order” of preferred home buyers, according to a real estate agent in the San Francisco Bay Area, is:

  1. All-cash offers
  2. 50% down
  3. 20% down
  4. Less than 20% down
  5. FHA loans

 

On the bright side, cash offers don’t always rule the roost. There are plenty of sellers who are willing to entertain offers from all buyers, not just the ones with a big wad of cash.

The post Buyer Blocks: 4 Factors Keeping Millennials From Owning a Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Could You Rent Out Your Old House While Trying to Sell It? Should You?

Can You Rent Your House While Trying to Sell It? (And Should You?)

jhorrocks/iStock; 3D_generator/iStock

So you traded up and are sitting pretty in your gorgeous new home, but your old one is just … sitting there. It’s languishing on the market, which means you’re paying two mortgages instead of one. But there is a way to ease this financial squeeze and, dare we say, even profit: Rent out your home while trying to sell it. That way, you rake in rental income while waiting for the perfect buyer to come along. Sounds sweet, right?

Well, renting out a home while trying to sell it does come with some downsides and risks. Here’s what you should know before giving it a go.

You’ll have to find a tenant who’s OK with temporary digs

There’s nothing illegal about renting out your house while trying to sell it, as long as you clue your tenants into your plans. The challenge is you’ll need to find tenants who accept that this is a temporary lease—once a buyer bites, they’ll have to skedaddle.

To make sure your tenants are crystal-clear on the arrangement, get it in writing by having them sign a legally binding lease. Tracey Hampson, a Realtor® in Valencia, CA, with Century 21 Troop Real Estate, recounts this cautionary tale of what could happen if you don’t.

“My seller had rented out her home temporarily to a friend who agreed to stay for a month or two,” says Hampson. The buyer, trusting her buddy to do the right thing, didn’t draft up a lease. Big mistake. Not only did this “friend” leave the home a wreck before showings, but once a buyer was willing to look past that, the tenant refused to leave.

“We had to get the sheriff involved, the buyer walked, and her friend stayed there for three months without paying a dime,” says Hampson. “It was a nightmare.”

Moral of the story: Draw up that lease! Also know that having a tenant is going to make it harder to show your home (more on that next).

You can’t just schedule showings any ol’ time

In most areas, a landlord needs to give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property—or arranging for someone else, like a prospective buyer, to enter it. This requires a cooperative tenant who is willing to both vacate the place for a while and keep the place clean at all times. So unless you find the perfect renter, things can get difficult.

Your renter will “have nothing to gain in keeping the home tidy and presentable,” points out Adriana Mollica, an agent with Teles Properties, in Beverly Hills, CA. “They aren’t going to make any money from the sale, so what motivation do they have to take the extra effort in keeping the home clean?”

Worse yet, you run the risk of having the tenant refuse to leave and stay home when your real estate agent shows the property—which can make buyers uncomfortable.

“It just feels weird when a tenant is lurking,” says Mollica. “That’s not the ideal environment for buyers to fall in love with a house.”

And even if buyers are willing to see past all this, they might also have to wait for a while before moving in. Why? Because most landlord-tenant laws require at least a 30-day notice to vacate, so don’t expect your renter to pick up and move as soon as you sell.

Your home might sell for less money

All things considered, if you try to rent out your home while selling it, it could linger even longer on the market. You could be looking at “a significantly reduced pool” of buyers, says Josiah Grimes, a real estate investor and owner of Atlas Wholesale Homes, in Phoenix. And those buyers might expect more out of you.

“Anyone who is willing to take on that added headache will expect a better deal,” says Grimes.

Also expect to get less rent than a traditional lease.

“If you’re expecting to sell soon, you may have to offer a better deal to entice prospective renters,” says Grimes.

Alternative No. 1: Think caretaker, not renter

Some people actually seek out a temporary situation that offers cheap rent in return for maintaining the home and keeping it ready to show on short notice. A home caretaker understands what’s expected and doesn’t count on sticking around for long. Most major cities have one or two home caretaker organizations that specialize in placing people in homes for sale.

Alternative No. 2: Consider a short-term rental

Go the very short-term rental route, leasing your home for only a few nights at time on sites such as Airbnb. This helps you avoid the annoyances of a longer-term tenant; plus you can charge more per night than you can per week or month. The downside? Your home will have to be furnished, because no one’s going to pay to sleep on the floor. Still, if you’re staging the place anyway and are in a tourist area where hotels are lacking and vacationers plentiful, it’s a good option.

Otherwise, renting out a home you’re trying to sell could mean you end up with a lower sales price and less rent. Still, if you want to try, make sure you have a tenant you trust, a legally binding lease with clear instructions on your expectations, and then heaping portions of patience to get you through. Also make sure to read up on how to become a landlord (which isn’t as easy as it looks).

The post Could You Rent Out Your Old House While Trying to Sell It? Should You? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.