COVID-19 Real Estate Info

So you were thinking of buying OR you currently own a home and now EVERYTHING seems to be in limbo. First, let us all remember that we are a resilient people. As everything we have faced in the past, this too shall pass. That being said what do we do in the meantime.

HOMEOWNERS:

Financial Hardship: There is all kinds of MISINFORMATION being floated around. If you are having issues paying your mortgage as the result of a financial hardship associated with COVID-19 you MUST CONTACT YOUR LENDER directly. There is NO AUTOMATIC suspension of payments. Your payments are due as usual unless you and your lender agree to other arrangements. Your mortgage statement will have your mortgage lender’s contact information and they will advise as to what steps need to be taken.

Refinancing: If you were considering refinancing and you still are working and do not see being laid off or furloughed in the immediate future, the rates are still very low and you can still refinance.

Selling your Home: If you were considering selling and you are not sure how the market is affecting your ability to do so, here is a summary. Loans are still available but as people hear the news regarding rising unemployment rates, consumer confidence starts dropping. Also, due to shelter in place, there are limitations regarding how homes can be shown. That being said, we have not seen significant drops in prices. 

Virtual tours are an awesome way to get your home in front of potential buyers.  Currently, in California, we cannot conduct Open Houses. Be prepared to provide inspections in advance as they are difficult to schedule. But the most important thing is to be patient. This situation is new to everyone involved and it literally is changing daily.  So if you are ready to sell, go for it, we are still doing loans and entering contracts daily, but we all must be understanding of all parties involved, as we navigate together through this new territory for the time being.

BUYERS:

If you were considering buying the same rules apply as before. There are a few new layers though. Employment is a big concern for many at this time, so many lenders have added some additional layers regarding verification of employment. As you could imagine everything is so uncertain that they are being more cautious. The government guaranteed programs such as FHA (First Time Homebuyer Assistance) and VA (Veterans Affairs) are still moving with few modifications, as they are GUARANTEED by a government source. So as long as the guidelines are met, the loans can still be closed as they normally would.

Rates are still historically low. So if you were planning, do not give up. The dream is still very possible.

The key is to stay proactive and informed. This is a temporary situation and with some patience and understanding, we can still achieve. 

Mary Ellen Pleasant AKA The Black City Hall of S.F.

(1814-1904)

The short answer is Lisa Bonet portrayed her on Drunk History in Season 1 Episode 5. The long answer is much more intriguing and inspiring. Pleasant was once the most talked-about woman in San Francisco. When other African Americans were rarely mentioned, she claimed full-page articles in the press.

The obstacles this woman managed to overcome actually makes me feel silly for being disappointed and “overwhelmed” about the little inconveniences that arise in my personal life and business career. And being that it is Black History month, (please note that I fully believe that black history should be celebrated year round as part of American History as a whole, but that would be a whole other article),  it stands to reason that I would share with the community someone who has inspired me to stand out and push without excuse to reach my goals. Someone I knew NOTHING about growing up,  but who accomplished GREAT things in my own damn backyard, the San Francisco Bay Area.

So who was the woman referred to as the Mother of Civil Right in California. According to her various memoirs, Pleasant, was born a slave near Augusta, Georgia between 1814 and 1817, and according to ships records and confirming testimony, she arrived in San Francisco in April, 1852 to escape persecution under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, for slave rescue work in the East. However, the courage to do that and other great deeds started in childhood.

At birth, Mary had no last name. In her first memoir she said that she was born the illegitimate child of a Virginia governor’s son (John H. Pleasants) and an enslaved Haitian, so Mary had to create names for herself. After witnessing the death of her mother at the hand of a plantation overseer, Mary had to make her way largely on her own.

An account by Nevada writer Sam Davis, one of Pleasant’s biographers, infers in her final memoir (Davis, 1901) that Mary was rescued by a Mr. Williams and sent to New Orleans to work as a linen worker at the Ursaline Convent and subsequently to work as a free servant for a merchant in Cincinnati. His promise was that, after she served the Williams for some time without pay, she would be freed.

However, Williams, in debt and ultimately jealous of his wife Ellen’s affection for the girl, eventually placed Mary, not in freedom, but into nine years of indenture (Mary called it being “bounded out.”) with an aging Quaker merchant, (merely called Grandma Hussey) in Nantucket, MA. Indentured servants could be of any race, and Mary, a mulatto child who in her earlier years was very fair, was told not to reveal her race — a heavy burden for a girl of about eleven.

In Nantucket, Mary adopted Ellen Williams’ name, becoming “Mary Ellen Williams,” and she learned business as a clerk in Grandma’s general store. At that time she could not read or write but states, “I could recall the accounts of a whole day, and she [Grandma] would set them down and they would be right as I remembered ’em.” While in Nantucket, Mary grew smart, witty, and  adopted abolitionist beliefs and the principles of equality and enterprise.

Later in the 1840’s, when her service had ended, the twenty-something, young woman travelled to Boston where she became a tailor’s assistant, as well as a paid church soloist. It was in Boston that she met and married James W. Smith, a wealthy mulatto. According to a letter fragment by Mary, James (part Cuban, part white) was a contractor/ merchant who “passed” for white  so as to serve as a Southern contributor to William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist paper and a rescuer on the Underground Railroad. Soon both Smiths served on that Railroad.

Her husband also owned a plantation near Harper’s Ferry, left to him by his white father. Smith staffed it with freed slaves (freedmen), whose freedom he helped secure. When James died suddenly (sometime between 1844 and 1848) he left Mary a wealthy woman. She eventually remarried, but she continued their slave-rescue work between New Bedford, MA, and Ohio out of her own inner calling.

Finally, in 1851, with slavers hot on her trail, she fled West with her second husband, John James Pleasance (“J.J. Pleasants” when Anglicized). Mary arrived in San Francisco on April 7, 1852– a place with about 40,000 people, 700 drinking and gambling establishments, and 5 murders every 6 days. There were six men to every woman, which was not a safe environment for any woman.

However Mary met the challenge. Once there, she was forced to use two identities to thwart capture under California’s Fugitive Slave Act. Under this law anyone without freedom papers could be captured and sent into slavery. Mary had no papers. Still Mary, both as “Mrs.Ellen Smith” (white boardinghouse steward/cook) and as “Mrs. Pleasants” (abolitionist/entrepreneur) helped her people.

As Mrs. Smith, she served the wealthiest and most influential men in San Francisco, and using their regard for her as well as the “LaVeaux model” of leveraging their secrets for favors, she was able to get jobs and privileges for “colored” people in San Francisco. It is said that for this they nicknamed her “The Black City Hall.”

In the “colored” community, in her true identity as Mrs. Pleasants, she used her money to help ex-slaves fight unfair laws and to get lawyers or businesses in California. She became an expert capitalist, owning every kind of business imaginable, and she prospered. In 1858 Mary decided to return East –not to live, but to help abolitionist John Brown. In Canada, she and JJ bought land on Campbell St. to help house the slaves that Brown planned to free near Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. His plan was to capture the Federal arsenal there with only 21 men. He would set up a militia made up of runaway slaves throughtout the Virginia Mountains, as the Haitians had done. Then, he would ferret some slaves from there to Canada.

Mary gave Brown money for arms and came back the following fall to ride (in disguise as a jockey) in advance of Brown to alert slaves near Harper’s Ferry of his coming. It was a risky plan, but Mary (believing that slavery had to be ended by force) was willing to help. “I’d rather be a corpse than a coward,” was always her motto.

However, Brown acted too soon and was hanged, and Mary narrowly escaped with her life. On her return, hunted for treason, she continued to fight, and after the Emancipation Proclamation and the California Right-of-Testimony of 1863 law, she declared her race openly. She orchestrated court battles to test the right of testimony, and in 1868 her battle for the right of blacks to ride the San Francisco trolleys without fear of discrimination set precedent in the California Supreme Court.

In the 1860s and 1870s, Mrs. Pleasant brought several civil rights lawsuits in California, most of which she won. Mary Pleasant went on to become celebrated as a philanthropist and business woman and to amass a $30,000,000 fortune with her secret partner, Scotsman, Thomas Bell. In 1883 she even helped challenge the powerful Senator William Sharon in a scandalous case in the cause of Human Rights – she backed the plaintiff financially.

Despite the fact that the plaintiff eventually lost this case, and Pleasant eventually lost most of her wealth, and even her good name through twists of fate, treachery, and the press, her legacy of love and courage lives on. In fact, her 1868 Trolley case set precedent in the California Supreme Court and was used to win a case in that same court in 1983. Mary Ellen Pleasant died on Jan. 4, 1904.

Tezra Rogers is a Real Estate Broker/Loan Officer (CA DRE #01744515/NMLS #01466173) with 17 years experience and at last count, 816 transactions under her belt. Her clients become family, and in this house there is always room for more. You may contact her at trogers@pacificbayestates.com or at the corporate office in Suisun City, CA at 707.759.4251.  Follow her on IG @pacbaybroker.

Leap into Homeownership 2020 Sacramento Event

February 29, 2020 (11 am – 1 pm) Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Rancho Cordova

Learn how to buy a house in California…it’s not as hard as you might think.

Are you looking to own your own home but not sure where to start? Pacific Bay Estates is offering a FREE workshop to bridge to homeownership. Now is the time to take the leap and become a homeowner.

In this workshop you will learn:

– How to work the numbers in your favor

– What the steps are to owning your own home

– Q&A with a professional Loan Officer and Realtor

– Down Payment Assistance Programs

– Renting vs Buying

– How your credit score affects your buying power

Workshop is Free! Sign up Eventbrite!

Limited to 25 people to ensure the quality of workshop. Reserve your seat now!

Stayed tuned for Solano County coming in April!!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/leaping-into-homeowership-tickets-91258130525?aff=utm_source%3Deb_email%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dnew_event_email&utm_term=eventurl_text

Considering a Refinance?

There are several reasons to refinance especially considering today’s historically low interest rates. So let’s discuss what a “refinance” actually is,  and the two types of refinances available. When you refinance your home,  you take a new loan against your home and pay off the old loan, basically “re-doing” the financing.

The first type of refinance, is known as a Rate and Term refinance. The goal of this type of refinance is to either lower the payment or shorten or lengthen the term of the loan. Homeowners seek a Rate and Term refinance for one or more of the following reasons: 1.) Take advantage of lower interest rates in order to lower their monthly payment, 2.) Remove a mortgage insurance premium being paid, or 3.)Shorten or lengthen the number of years remaining on the loan. Qualifying is often simplified for Rate and Term refinances and interest rates are lower than that of the second type of refinance.

The second type of refinance, is known as a “Cash-Out” refinance. If you are seeking to take money out on the equity you have in your home, what you would be applying for would be referred to as a “Cash-Out” refinance. In this type of loan, you take out a loan for more than you currently owe, the old loan is paid off, closing costs are paid, and you pocket the difference. Such loans are helpful for consolidating debt, paying for college, making home improvements, etc. These types of loans typically carry a slightly higher interest rate than a standard rate and term loan, and the qualification requirements are a little more stringent, but no more difficult than your initial purchase.

SO HOW MUCH CAN YOU BORROW? The same numbers are considered for a refinance as they are for a purchase, 1.) FICO, 2.) Income, 3.) Debt, 4.) Assets, and 5.) Your loan amount as compared to the home’s value.

If you would like to know more about how a refinance could benefit you, please contact us.

Tezra Rogers is a Real Estate Broker/Loan Officer (CA DRE #01744515/NMLS #01466173) with 17 years experience and at last count, 816 transactions under her belt . Her clients become family, and in this house there is always room for more. You may contact her at trogers@pacificbayestates.com or at the corporate office in Suisun City, CA at 707.759.4251. Follow her on IG @pacbaybroker.

Considering Overseas Real Estate?

My journeys of travels started early on as a child, I remember taking my first cruise to Puerto Rico at the age of twelve with my mom. This started my relentless drive and thirst to travel.

Fast forward to today with each country I travel to it’s not only for pleasure I also research foreign Real Estate. Diversity in a Real Estate portfolio is a good investment but let’s discuss the caveats of International Real Estate Investing, Yes! it sounds nice to purchase that lavish beachfront home or the home with scenic rolling mountain secluded from the rest of the world, but please don’t be passive in what it takes for the up keep of Foreign Real Estate Investments. Take in account which countries you want to purchase real estate in and will it be a lucrative investment if you try to sell your property?

Currency Changes 

Always pay close attention to currency changes in the market, unlike the U.S. dollar, foreign currency is highly unpredictable and fluctuate on a daily basis, this can be a disadvantage but still work in a U.S. citizens favor. The weaker the dollar the higher the gain. Another critical watch is being aware of any political,economic or governmental issues there maybe back lashes if the’re any negative economical issues. This can possibly cause demise to your investment. We can never be sure so is important to do your research.

Property Upkeep 

Take into consideration how often you will visit your property. It is wise to hire someone for property upkeep in your absence. Vandals watch for vacant homes so if you want to protect your assets look in to hiring property management in your absence.

Last but not least, Remember this is an investment so before planting your seeds travel to several countries don’t choose the first one you fall in love with. I’ve explored several different countries and I’m not in love with all but I have a lot of favorites, every country has something different to offer with plenty of real estate to go around.

Amber Thomas is a licensed Real Estate Agent in the State of California DRE #02081029.  Amber is well travelled having begun travelling abroad at a young age. Her exposure to various cultures has helped shape her real estate career and enabled her to specialize in relocation in addition to standard sales. You may contact Amber at athomas@pacificbayestates.com. Follow me on IG @estatesandtravel