First Time Homebuyers Episode 2: Financing

Hello, and welcome to the second podcast in our new series, “First Time Home-Buyers.”

This is a multi-part series in which we take a deep dive into buying your most crucial and important investment in your life for the first time, and hopefully it can be your dream home the first time around.

Episode 2 discusses financing, and the different options you may take as you try and secure a home loan. So, take a seat and enjoy the podcast! We would love to hear your feedback! You can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Instagram.

If this podcast seems like it’s the right fit for you, and you’d like me to assist you in this process and make it painless and easy, give me a call (805-427-3008) or send me an email (

You can also check out our listings here!

Enjoy the podcast below!


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Pending Home Sales Data: Yikes, Or Is It?

www.nar.realtorIn light of the surprising, or not so surprisingly low pending sales data released by the National Association of Realtors today, I thought it might be a good time to comment on the current status of the real estate market.

With the data today showing a 33.7% year over year decline and a 21.8% month over month decline in pending home sales, one could easily and not incorrectly conclude that the real estate market sits atop a precipice of a potentially catastrophic declining value.  And since the pending data may still reflect activity from pre-lockdown early March, the sales numbers carry the potential to be even uglier next month.  The question most people are asking is, “What’s next?”  Well next is more crummy data, but bad data doesn’t necessarily portend to a significant drop in real estate values, or does it?

While it is true that the number of new contracts and escrows dropping nearly 40% cannot be viewed as anything but bad especially if you’re a Realtor, there are underlying reasons that the market may prove to be more resilient and resist market pressure to collapse (Reach Out to Tim Here).  Take for example the surprising new home sales data which reported yesterday that sales were actually up month over month by .6%.  And while this still reflects a 6% decline year over year, one has to wonder if sales are up even a little, why are they up?  To answer this mystery, you only have to look at the available resale inventory to understand, supply is anemic and therefore, new homes are one of the places a buyer can find a selection with which to purchase.  But why is supply anemic if sales are off?  Why aren’t prices plummeting?  Why isn’t inventory ballooning if demand has dropped so much?

Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full? – Words from the WindIf you’re a glass a half full kind of person, I guess, the easiest answer is that people just aren’t panicking.  Sellers, most of whom are sitting on a mountain of equity, aren’t approaching selling with a “cut and run” attitude and instead have an expectation that the economy is going to bounce back pretty quickly once everyone reopens.  All you need to do is look at the stock market to understand that they are not alone in this belief. Clearly Wall Street feels the same way since the stock market has remained incredibly buoyant in light of nearly 40 million people out of work and an expected 2nd quarter decline in GDP in excess of 8% and perhaps an even higher decline in the 3rd quarter.  Of course, if you are a “glass half empty” kind of person, you’ll say the markets are myopic which is obvious for all of the opposite reasons I just listed.

To understand the real estate component of this discussion, you need to consider the effect that short supply has on the existing pool of buyers.  That is, there’s very little available active for sale home inventory for these buyers to purchase, so they have to behave like it’s still a seller’s market.  This of course explains the bump up in new home sales, as I’ve suggested (Search for Homes Here). Moreover, if you extrapolate from that data that demand is somehow still exceeding supply, then naturally you’d conclude prices must remain firm in spite of an economic slowdown.  What this doesn’t explain however, is why if we are in an economic collapse, there are any buyers other than bottom feeders at all?  The answer here may surprise you: Not everyone is being affected by the economic downturn in the same way.


Click to See Home Details

Without going into a big long thing about economic inequality, let me just say that for many, the only real impact the virus lockdown is that they are working from home.  Perhaps those most terribly affected by this pandemic economy are those folks in service jobs like dining and entertainment, hospitality, leisure and travel.  And while this is a huge segment of the economy, it’s possible the a majority of the common workers in these industries was not and is not part of the current active buyer pool.  For those who are actively house hunting, it’s been pretty difficult to find a great home and the pandemic has actually only made it worse (Visit Tim’s Facebook Here).  The virus may have caused certain buyers to bail, but historically low rates have brought others in and coupled with a large number of potential sellers sitting on the sidelines not wanting to move during a pandemic or worse, wind up homeless in a pandemic, the supply of available inventory is still lower than the demand for that inventory.  Thus, prices have remained stable.

Going forward, we’ll just have to wait and see.  One thing is clear however, the pandemic is compelling some buyers to accelerate their desire to own their own home as sheltering in a place in a home that isn’t particularly desirable, is a great motivator.  I expect the data to continue to defy logic at least until the late fall when it should be clearer that we are either quickly bouncing back or inHow to Buy Land |® for a prolonged economic struggle.  Until then, if you haven’t lost your job and have been waiting to own your own home, find a good one and buy it because as Will Rogers famously said, “Buy land.  They ain’t making anymore of the stuff…”

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First Time Home-Buyers: Episode 1 – Saving Money

Hello, and welcome to the first podcast in our new series, “First Time Home-Buyers.”

This is a multi-part series in which we take a deep dive into buying your most crucial and important investment in your life for the first time, and hopefully it can be your dream home the first time around.

Episode 1 starts off with the beginning of the process; saving up the cash for that down payment.  So, take a seat and enjoy the podcast! We would love to hear your feedback! You can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Instagram.

If this podcast seems like it’s the right fit for you, and you’d like me to assist you in this process and make it painless and easy, give me a call (805-427-3008) and send me an email (

You can also check out our listings here!

Enjoy the podcast below!

Posted in Real Estate | Leave a comment

County Line Gazette #42

Hello and Welcome!

Thank you so much for taking the time to come and check out the 42nd edition of The County Line Gazette.

The gazette is located below for you to read, but if you wish to listen to it in the background instead, please scroll down further. We split the newsletter into 3 podcasts for you to listen to at your convenience.

And if you like what you have read or listened to and would like to share it, we’d greatly appreciate it!


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3



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This Week’s Thoughts On The Real Estate Market

I’ve received several notes, comments and emails on a couple recent post I put up regarding the state of the housing market.  Most people who wrote me sounded a lot the same: The market is going to go down!  Some said 30% and even one gentleman said 50%.  All who predicted the downfall of the housing market had one thing in common however, and that was that they were ready, waiting and that they were buyers.  So, is that what’s going on?

960x0As I put in the heading, these are my thoughts, this week.  Next might be different so I am giving a heads up that like the Pandemic itself, opinions are subject to change.  OK, with that disclaimer out of the way the question is, do I agree with this gloomy assessment?  The short answer is no.  I recently pointed out in one thread that it took over 3 years following Lehman’s collapse for the market to hit a low of -30%.  Of course, this wasn’t every market either (Reach Out To Tim Here).  Some went further like Las Vegas and parts of Florida but others like West LA, maybe hit 20-25%.  My local community, the Conejo Valley and along the LA/Ventura County border, saw a drop around 30% at the lowest point.  Therefore it stands to reason that if the  market were to drop 30% it hardly seems logical that it would drop so much in less time than it took to do so during the Great Recession.

I want to make a couple of other observations here that I think are important.  First is demographics.  As I’ve been writing for more than half a decade, the Millennials are only DSC03713now starting household formation.  Prior to the Pandemic, according to the National Association of Realtors, Millennials represented 42% of the home buying public.  Is that going to change? Yes, it is I’m afraid… it’s going to increase.  Remember, Millennials are the largest generation in US history – larger than the Baby Boomers, so yes, they will remain buyers and they will dominate the percentage of buyers in the market for years to come.

My second observation is that inventory is tight and as I’ve written at length, that condition is not going to change.  In fact, it may even get worse.  Follow me on this.  One of the reasons inventory was tight was the afore mentioned increase in the volume of qualified buyers.  Another is that seniors were choosing to age in place so unlike previous generations who would move once they got to 70, Baby Boomers and their elders of The  Greatest Generation, were not moving and instead modifying their homes to accommodate aging in place.  Now ask yourself this: In light of the current health crisis gripping assisted care facilities, would you say it is more or less likely that seniors are going to sell and move into these facilities?  Yeah, that’s what I think too: Not a chance.  In fact, if you want to find a new career, try mobile nursing or the less skill-required in-home caregiver.  The elderly are not moving unless they have no choice. This means fewer homes for sale and that means continued tight inventory for sale.

My third observation is not something that can be overstated.  There is a huge difference with the Pandemic Recession and the Great Recession and that is that housing and lending lead the Great Recession which is not the case now.  Bad loans, bad borrowers and a bad economy sapped all the equity people had and they found that not only were they out of work theyDJI_0977 were upside down on their mortgage.  With no reason to keep paying for a home worth a fraction of what they owed, short sales and foreclosures ensued.  Contrast that with the condition today.  Lenders due to Dodd-Frank, are better capitalized than ever before.  The stress testes they are had to endure over the past decade will prove to be one of the great saviors of our country and economy because the banks aren’t weak, they are strong (Search for Homes Here).  Coupled with the fact that prior to this self-created recession, Americans held the highest level of home equity on record.  So, no one is walking away from their worthless real estate, instead they are holding on or if need be, selling and reaping profits.  Selling may result in soft prices, perhaps a little lower if demand is insufficient to absorb this new inventory, but no one is handing over keys.  They will transact and they will have money in their pocket to carry them forward and most likely help them to buy something albeit perhaps smaller or more manageable.  Thus, any decline in value in that scenario is going to be mitigated by tight inventory.

Finally, there is the Federal Government and the Central bank, The Fed.  There’s an old saying on Wall Street, don’t bet against the Fed or don’t fight the Fed.  This is really important because unlike the collapse of Lehman where the Feds let Lehman fail only to trigger a market collapse and subsequent bailout of the “Too big to fail” companies, the Fed is not going to make the same mistake.  Barring the apocalypse scenario with The Corona Virus killing millions and us having no country to come back to, the government is going to support the banks so long as the banks support the borrowers.  No one wants a repeat of 2008-12 more than the banks except maybe the Fed.

There you have it.  While there may be some softness in prices in a semi near term having as much to do with the logistics of selling in a pandemic, I personally am only hearing rumblings of inventory shortages and buyers who want to buy.  I am hearing Real-Estate-Bidding-War-and-Auctionof multiple offers for home under $1M, increased inquiries and historically low rates.  Sure, this thing could get uglier really fast, but I think it’s too early to know that and until we see foreclosure notices go up en masse – and don’t forget there are currently Federal “no foreclosure” rules in place – I wouldn’t bet against the housing market forestalling a real estate crash.

I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share this post (Visit Tim’s Facebook Here) and let me have it!  Agree or disagree?

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Covid 19, Housing And Predicting What’s Next

So a lender friend called me tonight.  He told me how he’s got amazing rates for Conforming loans and very good rates for High Balance Conforming loans but his Jumbo loans are gone.  Only a few big banks are doing Jumbo he said.  This of course is reminiscent of 2008 when the financial markets seized up and no one could get financing done except through a handful of big banks.  He also said all his investor clients are stock piling cash so they can pounce wolfwhen the foreclosure market comes back.  “Hmmm…” said I.  To which my friend said, “What, you don’t think that’s what’s going to happen?”  “No” I said, “I do not.”

This is an interesting conversation that I thought I should delve into.  Of course, I am only speculating, and I could be just as wrong as anyone else; just as easily as I could be right (Reach out to Tim here).  If you’ve ever read my blogs before, you know I am never afraid to put my Carnac hat on and put my two cents worth of opinions out there.  carnacRight or wrong, I’d like to hazard a guess as to what’s going to happen next.   So here goes.

I told my friend that I did not think we are going into a period of substantial foreclosures.  On the contrary, I believe the Federal Government is going to give mortgage and rent forgiveness.  In fact, the $2T stimulus passed last week even includes some rent and mortgage deferment opportunities.  Many states are already announcing freezes on evictions.  HUD has said much of the same on the government backed loans like FHA.  No one wants foreclosures and a repeat of 2008.  I am convinced that the Federal government is going backstop the banks having learned from the financial crisis.  I think the time will come when the Feds condition all the bank bailout monies on short term mortgage forbearance.  Let me explain my thinking.

What is the largest expense most American face every month?  Cars, student loans, credit cards, private schools?  No, it’s housing.  (Search for Homes HereDSC03726Housing for families either in rent or mortgage and same for businesses in the form of commercial leases.  Whether that be in very expensive states like California or less expensive like Arkansas.  Whether that be homeowners, tenants or landlords, housing is the biggest monthly expense.  And let’s not forget, landlords.  Landlords mostly have mortgages too.  Big commercial landlords and mom and pops.  This is where the proverbial Covid 19 rubber hits the roadCovid 19.  As the pandemic goes from days to weeks to months, the economic toll will increase.  For the moment, the concern is keeping small business alive so it can come back.  But what happens when this goes on far longer than many are willing to say?  The cost goes up and the pittance the government is going to send most Americans will only cover food and utilities.  Rent and mortgage become the obvious pitfall.

So then, what is to happen?  I predict Washington will step in and not let anarchy prevail.  Something will need to be done and that something is mortgage and rent forbearance.  Why?  Supporting banks answer is the easiest thing for the government to do.  They have the Federal Reserve and the Treasury.  So, hear me out:  The best way to keep households and businesses solvent is to put a freeze on their largest expense.  This will mean however that the holders of those notes and servicers, will need compensation.  Again, this is where the Federal Reserve can play a part and support the banks and keep them whole.  Out of fairness, those property owners without mortgages will have to receive tax credits via the Treasury.

Mortgage and rent expense, is the key.  Put it on hold until the economy gets back on its footing and we can survive.  Bank vs peopleAllow foreclosures and you guarantee that banks and investors will strip the nation of its wealth, create a homeless crisis which in turn will lead to a health crisis and then we end up with that movie we’ve all seen and no one wants that.   Some counties are already moving in this direction by allowing time if you miss payments to repay and get current, and by preventing evictions.  What I’m talking about is on a national scale.

Let’s see how this plays out.  I personally feel this will go longer than most expect but that the fundamentals of the economy and real estate specifically can weather this storm.  And think about this: As we are all sequestering and sheltering in place, think about your home.  If you’re stuck in place for weeks or months on end, you better like your home and if you don’t or if you’ve been renting waiting to buy, you have to be thinking, “Get me out of here!”  Yes, as soon as this passes, people are going to want to buy.  DJI_0966Hopefully in a couple weeks the crisis shows signs of abating and more drastic measures won’t be required.  Let’s pray for that outcome but as we do, let’s also begin thinking about what happens next in  the event this drags on much longer than we hope.

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Relocating To Thousand Oaks And The Conejo Valley: What You Need To Know

The first thing you need to know about relocating to the Conejo is that it’s pronounced Koh-nay-hoe not Cone-Joe.  Conejo means rabbit in Spanish.  The Conejo Valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth and arguably the most special in Southern California.  The weather is near perfect.  The schools incredible.


For more school info click here

You can go for a breathtaking hike with ardent hikers or your 5 year old one minute and then at the beach the next.  We are located midway between Downtown Los Angeles (think Lakers, Kings, Clippers, world class museums and Broadway theater) and Santa Barbara (think romance, wine tasting, art walks and shopping).  Both are 45 minutes without traffic so allow for 1.5 hours as a rule, this is greater LA after all.  We have a regional trauma center and hospital and a fashionable indoor-outdoor mall with Nordstrom’s.  You’ll find employers like biotech giant Amgen and neighboring Atara, food giant Dole, music giant Guitar Center, insurance giant Anthem, the LA Rams and the list goes on and on.  Home to nearly 200,000 people (about 400,000 when you factor in neighboring Calabasas, Camarillo, Moorpark and Simi Valley) it’s a fantastic place to live, to grow old in or to raise a family.

Thousand Oaks, the area’s largest city, has more than a thousand oak trees.  They’re beautiful and grand.  Should you find one on the property you like, be advised that you can’t cut it down.  You can’t even trim a branch if it is larger than 4 inches in diameter.  Suffice it to say the fines for damaging or removing an oak tree in Thousand Oaks are hefty.  We do love our oak trees and they are protected.  We also love our open space and the Conejo Valley is completely ringed by protected regional, state and national park land including the majestic Mt. Boney, the last mountain in the Santa Monica Mountain range.  It makes for spectacular outdoor scenery and activities but it also means you won’t find many new homes being built.

balcony view of Boney.jpg

Mt. Boney

The Conejo Valley rests atop the Los Angeles and Ventura County lines.  For example, Westlake Village which is home to our most expensive real estate, was incorporated in 1981.  However, Westlake Village makes up only half of what we consider Westlake.  This is because a California city cannot be in two counties.  Thus, when Westlake Village

westlakesign resized

Westlake Village

became incorporated only the LA County side was allowed to do so.  The Ventura County side was absorbed into the city of Thousand Oaks.  The zip codes for Westlake south of the 101 Freeway are 91361 for both counties.  The address used is Westlake Village.  Go north of the freeway and it’s 91362 and called Westlake Village for both counties as well.  More significantly, the school districts are entirely different.  If you want your kids to go to Westlake High School (Conejo Valley Unified School District) you must live on the Ventura County side.  The LA side goes to Agoura High (Las Virgenes Unified School District.)

In 1982 Agoura (pronounced Uh-goor-uh) incorporated into Agoura Hills, leaving behind a swath of homes over the Ventura County border in unincorporated Ventura County.  This area originally known as Agoura now bears the name of Oak Park.  Oak Park has its own zip code: 91377, its own government and most importantly its own Blue Ribbon school district (Oak Park Unified School District.)  Unlike Westlake, Oak Park successfully resisted incorporation into the city of Thousand Oaks.  When you ask someone about Oak Park the first thing they mention are the schools.  Since most of the schools throughout the Conejo Valley have Great School rankings of 9 out of 10 or better, the fact that Oak Park is known for schools means something special is going on there.

To recap the craziness of the various municipalities and the County Line, we’ve got two Agouras, two Westlakes and three schools districts.  There are unincorporated areas as well as 3 sub-cities in Thousand Oaks: T.O. proper, the aforementioned Westlake (part of T.O.) and to the south west, Newbury Park.  Temperatures by the way vary from Agoura Hills to the Newbury Park by as much as 15 degrees on a hot summer’s day.  Newbury Park is cooler since it’s closer to the ocean.  Nothing demonstrates this unique nature of our boundaries better than Westlake Island (and yes there actually is a lake in Westlake).  The entrance to the gated island is by way of a street named La Venta.  This is derived from LA/Ventura because the road is literally the county line.  In fact, “The Island” is smack dab in the middle of the lake (Search for Westlake homes here) and is literally divided in half.  Half on the Ventura side, half the LA side.  The Conejo is also home to three other lakes.  Two that you’ve likely not heard of are Lake Lindero and Malibou Lake.  Malibou Lake (yes like caribou) was a cabin-on-a-lake getaway for Hollywood Celebrities as early as the 1930’s.

Agoura Malibou lake above

Malibou Lake

I can picture some famous Hollywood actor bouncing across the San Fernando Valley on a then two lane Ventura Blvd., up and over the Calabasas grade then left into the canyons, finally pulling up to a cabin nestled above Malibou Lake in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains.  Homes with lake rights are actually part of a co-op called The Malibou Lake Mountain Club and offer a truly unique lifestyle in the mountains while only being 7 minutes to Agoura and the 101 freeway.  The lake many people may have heard of is Lake Sherwood.  Built around the sensational Jack Nicholas designed PGA quality golf course, this community of mostly single family homes starts in the high $2M’s with town homes in the mid $1M range.  The Sherwood Country Club has hosted the Tiger Woods Open


Lake Sherwood Golf Course

and Greg Norman’s Shark Shootout golf tournaments and boasts the only tennis club that features all 3 court surfaces.  Lake Sherwood was named after Sherwood Forest because Errol Flynn’s 1938 classic film Robin Hood was partially filmed there.  Lake Sherwood is unincorporated Ventura County and like it’s even more expensive horse ranch neighbor Hidden Valley, has no municipal government.  Resident children attend the Westlake schools on the Ventura County side.  In addition to our amazing public schools, the Conejo has a multitude of private schools including La Reina Catholic Girls High School and Oaks Christian which spans all ages and has had their share of famous name alumni/alumni parents, plus a bunch of other parochial and non-parochial including the esteemed Carden School.

Another curiosity for most first time visitors here is that the Pacific Ocean is both to the west and the south.  We are located on the odd part of the California coast line where the state bends so that the ocean is on two sides.  Not a big deal but this tends to throw off your sense direction since the 101 freeway runs north-south from San Francisco to Los Angeles except the portion from Ventura to the San Fernando Valley, where it runs east-west.

As for housing… that’s my expertise.  In winter 2020, the least expensive single family home was in the upper $500K’s.  Prices range to 8 figures when you include Sherwood, Hidden Valley and a handful of homes near the North Ranch Country Club in Westlake.  The median is somewhere in the mid to upper $700K’s.  You can also find town homes and senior housing where prices are under those marks and even into the $200K’s.  Neighboring Calabasas is generally comprised of pretty high end, gated neighborhoods while Simi Valley, Moorpark and Camarillo (pronounced Kamm-a-ree-oh) offer a greater variety.  If you ask residents in each of those adjacent cities, they will tell you all the reasons they actually prefer their town to Thousand Oaks, Westlake or Agoura.  In Moorpark for example, when the little league season opens, the entire town shows up for the parade.  Moorpark also is home to Moorpark College part of the Ventura Community College system and a natural feeder into UC Santa Barbara, my alma mater.  Drive down the major streets of Simi or Moorpark and you’ll see banners heralding local young men and women who are serving in our military.  Heck, Simi Valley is home to the Ronald Reagan library.


Ronald Reagan Libary

Camarillo will tell you that at sea level you don’t need air conditioning and that it’s home to the Camarillo Airport, the outlet mall and Cal State University Channel Islands with its newly created school of engineering.  Located on what was once the California State Mental Hospital, the buildings of CSUCI also claim to be the inspiration of the Charlie “Bird” Parker song, Relaxing In Camarillo.  Being a professional musician and Arista recording artist in life BRE (Before Real Estate) I love that trivial fact…  Other nearby major universities include California Lutheran (also known as CLU or locally referred to as Cal Lu) the off season training grounds of the Los Angeles Rams and Pepperdine University in Malibu.  Yes, Malibu and everything it offers, is just 13 minutes from the Conejo Valley via Agoura Hills or Calabasas.

Moving to a new area can be a big life-change, but the Conejo Valley is one place that it shouldn’t be.  The Civic Arts Plaza

Civic Arts and Gardens shots 025

Civic Arts Plaza


offers great entertainment, touring shows etc., CVUSD has wonderful programs for kids in the autism spectrum (see my Special Needs Resource Guide here), Moorpark has great horseback riding; baseball and soccer reign supreme in all the towns and I believe virtually every religion offers multiple places to worship.  We even boast a Mosque in Newbury Park, copper dome and all.  The canyon roads are popular for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts as well as cyclists including a portion of The Amgen Tour of California, not to mention vintage watering holes like The Old Place and The Rock Store.  So if you’re moving to this area, consider yourself blessed to have such a wonderful place to call home.



The old timers still use 1000 Oaks, Ca on their return envelopes (thinking about buying or leasing?  Visit  here) and will proudly refer to our Valley as God’s Country, because it really is that beautiful.  There’s a lot to talk about if you are relocating to Southern California.  As a native Californian, California real estate broker, Certified Residential and Corporate Mobility Specialist, I’d like to help with your relocation (contact Tim here).  Whether you’re looking for a luxury estate property or a more modest family home or condominium, let me welcome you to your new home right here along The County Line.


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