You’ve Opened Escrow, Now What?

Congratulations, you are on your way to owning your very own home!

1 Williamsburg

Follow these suggestions (and your realtor’s advice) so that escrow and settlement with go as smooth as possible.

  • You will be asked for a down payment on the home you are purchasing.  You can choose to put down as much or as little as you want (depending on your mortgage), but remember, the more you put down toward the total price of your home, the less time it will take you to pay off and the less your mortgage payments will be every month.
  • During this period of purchasing your home, you are going to need an escrow or settlement company to act as an independent third party so that you know when and who to give your money to get the deed to your new home. The escrow or settlement company will hold your deposit and coordinate much of the activity that goes on during the escrow period.  This deposit check may also be held by an attorney or in the broker’s trust account. Make sure that there are sufficient funds in your account to cover this check.
  • The deposit check will be cashed. Assuming the sale goes through, this money will be applied to the purchase price of the home. If for any reason the sale is not consummated, you may be entitled to receive all of your deposit back, less standard cancellation fees. In certain instances, the seller may be able to retain this money as liquidated damages. Prior to executing a purchase contract, it would be wise to speak with your counsel regarding whether or not it is your best interest to have a liquidated damages clause as part of the contract.

The period that you are “in escrow” is often 30 days, but may be longer or shorter. During this time, each item specified in the contract must be completed satisfactorily. By the time you have opened escrow, you have come to an agreement with the seller on the closing date and the contingencies. Each contract is different, but most include the following:

  1. Inspection contingency: this should be completed as soon as possible after the contract to purchase is signed as unsatisfactory results of the inspection may mean that you will want to cancel the contract.
  2. Financing contingency: once the contract is signed, you have a period of time to secure funding. If, for any reason, you are unable to secure funding during the period of time granted to you by the contract (and the seller will not provide a written extension of time), you must decide whether you want to remove the contingency and take your chances on getting a loan. You may choose to cancel the purchase contract.
  3. A requirement that the seller must provide marketable title.

With an attorney or title officer, review the title report. The title must be “clear” to ensure that you do not have legal issues regarding your ownership.Check into local and state ordinances regarding property transfer and make sure that you and/or the seller have complied with them.

Secure homeowner’s insurance. This will probably be required before you can close the sale. Due to such requirements as special fire and earthquake insurance, obtaining this insurance may require a lengthy period of time. It would be in your best interest to apply for insurance as soon as possible after the contract is signed.

Contact local utility companies to schedule to have service turned on when you close escrow.

Schedule the final walk-through inspection. At this time, you should make sure that the property is exactly as the contract says it should be. What you thought to be a “permanently attached” chandelier that would come with the property might have been removed by the seller and replaced with a different fixture entirely.

You’ve made it! Once the sale has closed, you’re the proud owner of a new home. Congratulations!

Advice for First-Time Home Buyers

Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.

Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You’ll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you’re interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.

List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for

Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.


Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:

  1. One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
  2. A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper.
  3. Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.
  4. Instant or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings.
  5. Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
  • Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
  • Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don’t make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
  • Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don’t forget such essentials as:
    1. Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
    2. Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
    3. Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
    4. You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
  • All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please email me or call me directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.

High-End Home Sales Soar throughout California


While home sales throughout much of California have remained flat throughout this spring and early summer, a new study has indicated that multimillion dollar homes are selling in record numbers, offering hope that the market is still improving and prompting many to wonder what’s holding the rest of the market back.


According to a recent study performed by San Diego-based DataQuick, $1 million-plus sales grew at a 9.1% clip statewide compared with last year, while sales overall fell 7.4%. Additionally, California in the second quarter set all-time records for the number of homes sold for more than $2 million, more than $3 million, more than $4 million and more than $5 million.

What’s driving these high-end home sales? According to market-watchers, there are several factors.

One is the hot technology sector in the Bay Area and some affluent parts of Southern California, which is minting new millionaires who can afford seven-figure homes. Another is the 11.6% price growth in California over the last year, which means a house worth $925,000 last summer may be worth $1.03 million today. And there’s the influx of international buyers, which is pushing up prices at the high end.

“It’s always fascinating to watch this part of the real estate market. It behaves differently, responds to its own set of criteria,” said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. “These buyers, especially those in the multi-million-dollar market, are less likely to agonize over credit scores, income and job security, down payments and mortgage interest rates.”

With this in mind, do you think this the market is improving as a whole? And considering that mortgage rates remain historically low, what do you believe is holding other buyers back?


The Making of Williamsburg Lane

“Country Life with City Conveniences”

In Case you missed our Bi-monthly Rolling Hills Newsletter, here is the article we posted on our front page, in continuation of our History of Rolling Hills we decided to make this month all about the street Williamsburg Lane, which has a lot of history & where we happen to have one of our listings for sale on Williamsburg Lane.  This street has so much charm & exquisite architecture that can still be seen today. The following is taken from the book  Rolling Hills: The Early Years by A.E. Hanson

“ Williamsburg Lane, Virginia was the outgrowth of a number of visits I made to the Eastern seacoast. As a landscape architect, I was fascinated by what the Rockefeller family was doing to restore the original old, southern-colonial city of Williamsburg, Virginia. At one time, Williamsburg was the State capitol of Virginia.

To an architect and to a landscape architect, Williamsburg is seventh heaven. It is living history, and I wish every American family with teen-aged children could have the opportunity to travel to Williamsburg and see how America really started.


In Williamsburg, Virginia I fell in love with the housing of the craftsmen, villagers, and shopkeepers who lived there prior to the American Revolution. The design of these homes was Georgian. They were very small cottages, and were fine in detail. I thought what fun it would be to do a whole lane in Rolling Hills patterned after the small houses of Williamsburg.

 Article Pic- Williamsburg

Homes on Williamsburg Lane, Rolling Hills were going for sale for under $9000, what a steal & great investment.

When I returned to Rolling Hills I couldn’t get that idea of my mind. What fun it would be to build a village lane with all the homes made of wood, painted white – and I knew I would like to live in any one of the homes that I had in mind.​​

 I contacted Paul Williams, (he had a particular talent in designing fine Georgian home for very wealthy clients) and suggested that he design an entire lane of homes for me – fourteen, to be exact. The land that I had chosen was just to the west of Acacia Road, on a ridge.

Financially, it was a very successful project, and anyone looking at the original advertisements shown in the counter book at the City Hall of Rolling Hills can see how great a bargain it turned out to be. One could buy an acre of land, a beautiful little house, landscaped with full-grown olive trees – all for $8,750.00. It was quite a bargain, and people bought them.”

PAGE 76.  Excerpt from, Rolling Hills: The Early Years by A.E. Hanson



This photo shows the three original houses on Williamsburg Lane

2014 International Home Buying Activity

NAR has released their annual 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity and it shows a significant increase in sales to international buyers.  As the report states:

For the period April 2013 through March 2014, the total sales volume to international clients (“international sales”) has been estimated at approximately $92.2 billion, a 35 percent increase from the previous period’s level of $68.2 billion.

International Buyers







Their are many factors that go into how International Buyers decide which part of the U.S. they will move to. The Presence of relatives, friends and associates, job and education opportunities, and climate and location seem to be the most important. Europeans are more attracted to states with warmer climates such as Florida and Arizona. While the West Coast is attractive to Asian buyers.  Buyers in Mexico prefer states in close proximity such as Texas, Arizona, California. Florida appears to be more attractive to South Americans as well as Europeans and Canadians. Buyers from India are located in urbanized areas and states home to IT companies such as California, New York and North Carolina.

Million-dollar home sales hit seven-year high in California

LA TIMES | by Tim Logan

Sales of million-dollar-plus homes hit their highest level in seven years in the second quarter.

The number of homes that sold for $1 million or more in California hit a seven-year high in the second quarter, and sales north of $2 million reached a new record.

That’s according to new figures from San Diego-based DataQuick, which tracks local housing markets in the state. They found million-dollar-plus sales grew at a 9.1% clip statewide compared with last year, while sales overall fell 7.4%.

Several factors are driving the high-end liftoff, market-watchers say…


Existing Home Sales Improve

The conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East had little impact on markets this week, while the economic data was slightly stronger than expected overall. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week a little higher.

The housing data released this week contained mixed news. Fortunately, the good news came from Existing Home Sales, which cover roughly 90% of the housing market. June Existing Home Sales rose 3% from May to the highest level since October 2013, marking the third straight month of increases. Also, the inventory of existing homes for sale rose to the highest level since August 2012.

Less encouraging, June New Home Sales, accounting for the remaining 10% of the market, declined 8% from May, and the May results were revised sharply lower. These figures are frequently volatile from month to month. New homes inventories increased as well to the highest level since October 2011. To summarize, the bulk of the housing market showed continued improvement, and the tight supply of homes for sale in some markets may be showing signs of easing.

While Fed officials have recently downplayed the risk of higher inflation, many investors are not quite so certain. The inflation data released on Tuesday eased some concerns, but just slightly. The June Consumer Price Index (CPI), one of the most widely watched inflation indicators, increased at a 2.1% annual rate. Core CPI, which excludes the volatile food and energy components, was 1.9% higher than one year ago. With CPI holding steady close to the Fed’s stated target level of 2.0%, investors will be keeping an eye out for signs of rising inflation which could pressure the Fed to tighten monetary policy.

Next week, investors will be watching both geopolitical events around the world and major economic news in the US. The next Fed meeting will take place on Wednesday. The first reading for second quarter GDP, the broadest measure of economic growth, also will come out on Wednesday. The important monthlyEmployment report will be released on Friday. As usual, this data on the number of jobs, the Unemployment Rate, and wage inflation will be the most highly anticipated economic data of the month. Core PCE inflation, ISM Manufacturing, Pending Home Sales, and many other reports will round out a very busy week. In addition, there will be Treasury auctions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Zillow & Trulia Merger

LA TIMES | Tim Logan

The nation’s two biggest real estate listing websites announced Monday that they’re joining forces.

Zillow Inc. will buy Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock, the Seattle-based company said. The deal is expected to close in 2015.

While both popular websites will retain their names and separate sites, their merger will create a giant in the burgeoning business of online real estate listings. Zillow and San Francisco-based Trulia combined had 137 million unique visitors in June, the companies said, far more than their next largest competitor, National Assn. of Realtors-affiliated Move Inc.

The two sites, with their troves of searchable, mappable home listings and other data, have transformed the way Americans shop for homes, giving consumers the sort of information that was long the exclusive domain of agents and multiple listing services…

Read more here…