Menifee Lakes - Property Tax & Special Assessment Updates

As a Menifee real estate guy I was out showing the Menifee Lakes community and trying to explain the stark contrast in property taxes. My buyer was shopping in the $200,000 range with an FHA loan. But when they added up HOA fees and property taxes, it was putting a serious dent in the approval amount.

Anyway, during the course of my showing, it became clear that some Menifee homes in the Menifee Lake community have just finished with some of their 20 year bonds. In a tough economy, every dollar counts and it looks like Christmas (about two months ago) came a little early.

So if you live inside Menifee Lakes on either side of Newport, check your bond status. You can go to the county tax website. It may only affect part of Menifee Lakes homes I am not sure. But if you did wrap up those bonds, you will be seeing your escrow accounts being adjusted and your payment to your lending bank should dip a little bit.

If you have a 1988-1990 home, check out your tax records online!

Stefan West, Broker/Owner of West Realty
Menifee Real Estate Broker

Foreclosure Freezes on the Way

The Christmas seasons is here and many of the large banks are playing "Santa Clause" by saying they will not evict homeowners during the 2 to 3 week period around Christmas. This comes on top of the moratorium that was caused by the robo-signing banks.

This will make many borrowers happy who are 3 to 6 months behind and were planning on moving out this Christmas. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are at the forefront of this freeze and specifically will not be taking anyone's home within the 2 week period around Christmas. Bank of American and Wells Fargo, both criticized for their foreclosure process, will also be halting most foreclosures during Christmas.

Don't be surprised to see an eviction spree following the Holiday Season.

Skylar Lewis
Temecula Homes For Sale
Murrieta Real Estate
View our Partners Carpet Cleaning Murrieta

Happy Thanksgiving to Menifee Home Owners!

I wanted to wish all Menifee home owner and residents a very Happy Thanksgiving! This is a wonderful time of year where air seems so clear and the weather just changed so nicely. It is seriously CRISP out there! I just heard news saying 34 degrees at night!

It is also the time we all think we will hit the Menifee stores on Newport and knock out the shopping in one day (I actually still think that contrary to years of evidence it is not so). Heck, I might even line up for some Black Friday action for the experiece - I wake up at 5 AM every morning due to wonderful 4 year old who is fixated on making sure I get up - what's up with that?!

But when I woke up this morning, I felt that a good but challenging year for Menifee real estate and homeowners was heading into the twilight with hopefully better things on the horizon. We did see some very positive things in the last year and for those I am grateful. I was blessed with the opportunity to have some fantastic clients and help in some challenging situations for Menifee short sales and foreclosure nightmares.

I know that many Menifee - ians - we need to work on something for that. Menifeettes? Menifee'ers? Anyway, I know a lot of Menifee home owners are in struggling times and having to deal with real challenging banks, family,and situations. I have seen a lot of that this year and last as we work through our economic and employment downturn / recession. But I have also seen great people, work very hard and get back on track as well. They may have had to sell their Menifee home via short sale but they are now stronger financially and in family then last year.

And that is something we can all be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Things are getting better, families and finances are getting stronger. I will be giving thanks for getting the opportunity to work with Menifee families in both buying and selling (or short selling) homes to start righting the ship or for buyers to begin raising families.

Menifee and the great people that live there are and have been a blessing to both myself professionally and my family. I look back and my VERY FIRST real estate transaction 8 years ago was on Sun City Blvd! There are so many great communities from Bradley area, La Ladera, Shadowridge, Menifee Lakes, The Lakes, off of Chester Morrison, etc. It is a fantastic city and has a home for everyone. I look for plenty more growth in both the near and long term. Just look how much in the last two years! In fact, because we do some much of our business up there, I have a new agent - Jessica who is now exclusively focused on Menifee Real Estate.

Anyway, my goal was to take a moment and wish all of you reading a wonderful and heartfelt Thanksgiving day wish for a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic 2011!


Stefan West, Menifee Real Estate, Temecula Real Estate Broker

Boo! Foreclosures effect on Halloween

I don't know about your neighborhood, but over the least 3 years I have seen a steady decline in the amount of "trick or treaters" and Halloween activity.

This is partly due to the amount of foreclosures our communities have seen. I spoke with a few other people tonight and they also agreed. There has been a reduction in the number of people participating in Halloween. Don't worry! It will pick up as more people are buying up the foreclosures. 

My family and I were out trick-or-treating in our neighborhood and saw about 20 other families, compared to double that the past years. There were still lots of kids, but I can't wait until it gets packed again.

Let's keep Halloween alive!
My Nephew and Niece

Skylar Lewis

Murder Myster Dinner - tickets still available for THIS SATURDAY's performance

"Death Is a Cabernet, Ol' Chum!" is the title of this year's Murder Mystery Dinner benefitting the Kay Ceniceros Senior Center. This is the 3rd year in a row that Councilman John Denver's wife, Linda, has graciously volunteered to direct a variety of inexperienced locals in a "Murder Mystery" where dinner guests must use their sleuthing skills to figure out "WHO DONE IT?"

I have attended the last 2 years...the meals were fantastic and it was great fun for our table to try to figure out who the murderer was. (I was wrong both times!)

The Players this year are:

"Pierre La Paine" played by Tom Furhman
"Stan Milton" by John Overton
"Nina Grigio" by Judy Hyneman
"Carter Cabot" by John Denver
"Sue Veneer" by Linda Overton
"Ben Breakfast" by Brian Walker
"Renee Melee" by Mysti Scargill
"Dective Durite" by Bob Stinson
"Lawrence Law" by Captain Dan Feltenberger
And I am the lucky lady who gets to play the part of "Leelah Eagle".
(Did I do it? "No Comment. That's Privileged Information!")

Tickets are available at the Kay Ceniceros Senior Center at $45 per person or $80 per couple.

The show will go on this Saturday, October 30th from 6:30 to 9:30 pm at the Kay Ceniceros Senior Center, 29995 Evans Rd., Menifee (951) 672-9673

How to partner up with

Each day is becoming more and more popular to search for homes on . How can you as a real estate agent partner up with Trulia to create a win win team?

Well first off, Trulia was one of the first online real estate searches for mobile phones. They were also the first one to consistantly upgrade their mobile software with new features and new looks. This is the key. Trulia mobile  has created the #1 mobile software for real estate.

Every day more consumers are using Trulia Mobile to search for homes in their general area ( using the GEO search ). This creates a unique opportunity for real estate agents to market to potential buyers. Trulia has the ability to list you, as the agent, on listings in certain zip codes. When a Buyer is searching for a home in 92563, your picture and information will show up. You information is displayed in a way that looks like you are the listing agent. This is a great tool to get leads.

Also having a premier account with allows your listings to stand out. If you are working with a seller, you can use this tool to show them how their listing will be set apart from all the other listings in Menifee. Let them know that you pay each month to have your clients show up as a premier listing to get the best visibility.

Trulia truly is becoming the #1 real estate tool along with Zillow. Either for Agents or for consumers. The easiest way to get started with Trulia is to contact one of their sales reps and they can go over some different packages. Some of their options are much cheaper than

Good Luck!

Skylar Lewis
Keller Williams

Bank of America - temporarily halts foreclosures

Concerned about how their foreclosure legal documents have been processed, the nation's largest mortage lender has immediately halted foreclosure proceedings in all 50 states. This is interesting as California is a non-judicial foreclosure state, and recently the other large mortgage companies have excluded California and have only halted foreclosures in those states that are "judicial" foreclosure states. (To learn more about the difference of judicial and non-judicial foreclosures, go to: www.all-foreclosure/com/judicial.htm)

Indicated that this process will take "a few weeks", B of A will not proceed with Trustee Sales or Judgements, however they will to continue to process delinquent loans.

Questions and Answers can be found in this article from the LA Times:

Foreign investors sprung on US homes

There has been a recent influx of foreign investors purchasing as many homes as they can get their hands on in the US.

Foreign investors from Canada, Columbia, Italy and many other countries see United States real estate as the perfect place for their money. These investors once had their money in US stocks and other securities but have recently moved it to our real estate. Why United States Real Esate? Local experts think our market may have another decline, which is contrary to what most foreign investors think...

One investor in Chicago has bought up over 100 homes in the last 90 days in the Suburban areas. He says that the real estate market in Chicago is on sale and he can't get enough properties. Foreign investors that are buying up California properties say that the values, they feel, can't go any lower. Homes in our area, Menifee, Temecula, and Homes in Hemet, haven't seen as many foreign investors. Our market has been saturated from investors in local counties like Orange County and San Diego. We could possibly see foreign investors come into our market in the near future...

Skylar Lewis
Keller Williams - The Lewis Team
Hemet Homes
Carpet Cleaning Temecula

Banks gearing up for new wave of foreclosures

On my weekly drive through the neighborhood of McCall Canyon the other day, I was surprised to see over 5 houses with new "Trustee Sale" notices taped to their doors. The sale dates were all to take place within a 2 week period of time.

These particular properties have been vacant for several weeks or months. Why now the Trustee's Sale? I hear it is because the banks are gearing up for year 2011, where they will be able to start fresh with their ability to absorb their losses. Trustees' sales now, eviction or Cash-for-Keys negotiations to have most of the occupants out of the properties within 45 days... another 15 days to get the property cleaned out, etc.... and there you have it... homes ready for market as of January 1st.

Current number of homes to be auctioned between 10/1 and 10/15:

Zip 92584 45 houses up for Auction
Zip 92585 20 houses up for Auction
Zip 92586 15 houses up for Auction

Interesting to note, an article on reports:

" Defaulted mortgages as of July took an average 469 days to reach foreclosure, up from 319 days in January 2009. That’s an indication lenders -- with the help of the government loan modification programs -- are delaying resolutions and preventing the market from flooding with distressed properties, said Herb Blecher, senior vice president for analytics at LPS. “The efforts to date have been worthwhile,” Blecher said in a telephone interview from Denver. “They both helped borrowers stay in their homes and kept that supply of distressed properties on the market somewhat limited.”

469 days to reach foreclosure...that is why I always stress to our clients. "DO NOT JUST WALK AWAY.... STAY IN YOUR HOMES FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN".... work on a loan modification, and if that doesn't work, try for a Short Sale. Banks would much rather have occupied properties, that are being taken care of, as opposed to vacant properties. Stay in your home, help keep your neighborhood safe, and looking good, and save your money!

Menifee-Temecula Real Estate - A Buyers Market

We are currently in buyers market for a real estate. Specifically in Menifee, CA.

During the housing bubble, Menifee home prices were rising at a unrealistic rate like most of the country. But when the housing bubble burst, our city took a much bigger hit than most areas of the country.

At this current moment, homes in Menifee are going for 50% to 70% of what they were 3 years ago. This IS a buyers market. When you can buy a house in Menifee for $180,000 and rent it out for over $1,500, you are positive cash flowing even if you put 3% down.
This is the kind of market where I would round up friends, family and everyone else to see if they would want to partner up and buy some real estate. Even if there is another burst, Menifee homes or Temecula Homes cannot drop too much further in price.

Hemet Homes are also a bargain. Hemet had one of the worst declines in the inland empire. Homes in Hemet are going for 70%  less than they were 3 years ago.

So you would love to buy a home but your credit is hurt. Be CREATIVE. Find someone that you know who would be willing to partner up and you can split the equity when prices rise ( they will ). Again, be creative and you can find the house of your dreams on sale!

Skylar Lewis
Keller Williams - Lewis Realty

Homebuyers to get 15 day head start on Freddie Mac homes - Investors must wait

Beginning Sept. 17, 2010, Freddie Mac will allow Buyers an initial 15 day period to make offers on their properties without competition from investors. The "First Look Initiative" is part of the ongoing Neighborhood Stabilization Program and supports Freddie Mac's mission to stabilize communitites through the creation of affordable homewonership opportunities.

To search for Freddie Mac homes, click here:

Here are some Questions and Answers about the "First Look Initiative":

What is the effective date of the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative?
September 17, 2010

How does the Initiative work?
During the first 15 days (30 days in Nevada) a home is listed for sale in the MLS, only offers from owner-occupants, public entities or their designated partners will be considered. Offers from investors and second home purchasers may be submitted to HomeSteps, but they will not be considered until after the initial 15 days of the listing.

What homes are eligible to be included in the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative?
HomeSteps homes in listed status, listed on or after September 17, 2010, are eligible for inclusion in the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative.

How will a homebuyer or selling agent know if a home is eligible for the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative?
Buyers may contact their selling agent or the listing broker with questions regarding the eligibility of a property; this information will also be included in MLS property listing information.

How will the buyers prove that they are buying the property as their primary residence?
The buyer and the selling agent must sign an affidavit affirming that the buyer will occupy the home as their primary residence. Parties that fraudulently sign the affidavit may be subject to criminal or civil liability. The sale will be canceled and the earnest money will be forfeited.
What should the selling agent do if a non-owner occupant makes an offer during the Initiative's 15-day time period?

Submit the offer to the HomeSteps listing broker.
Investors may submit offers at any time; however, the offers will not be considered for negotiation until after the 15-day time period.

Please note: Offers from non-profits, NSP grantees and community development organizations are eligible for the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative.

If a home has been on the market for less than 15 days on the Sept. 17 Initiative launch date, will this home qualify under Initiative guidelines?
No, homes listed prior to the launch date will not be included in the Initiative 15-day time period.

Important Notes

The 15-day Initiative time period is based on MLS days, not the date of the Listing Broker listing.

Multiple offers received during the 15-day Initiative time period are processed in the same manner as a normal transaction using the multiple offers procedure.

Second home purchasers are not eligible for Freddie Mac’s First Look Initiative.

In Nevada, Freddie Mac’s First Look Initiative window for buyers who plan to become owner-occupants is being extended to 30 days.

Interested home shoppers should contact their local real estate broker for more information about the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative.

Economy Trending Downward.... ( Temecula Homes )

What direction is our housing market going?

Newspapers, television, blogs.... the economy isn't getting better. It is actually getting worse with each passing week. Where are we going to be in 1 or 2 years? How will our housing market look? Is this a good time to buy?

The reason for this post is I have watched the market for many years and have watched how our current economy has been falling apart. It seems as though the negative thoughts and assumptions of our economy getting worse is also having an impact on it. As a Realtor and Financial coach, I spend a lot of time helping client's figure out the market. Their question is always "Where are we going to be at in the next year or two years?"

As I see it, every market is different. The bay area is different then our metropolitan areas. Tennessee is far different than Southern California. Our Southern California market is taking a big hit but will recover faster than most areas in the country. We have have already taken some of the largest hits, price wise. In my city, Temecula, we have seen values decrease about 50 to 60% from where they were even 3 years ago, which some areas of the country have seen only 25% decreases. Hemet homes and right now have had more than a 60% hit on values.

It will take the housing market another 2 to 3 years to start it's recovery, if there is not a double dip in home prices.  I do not foresee our SoCal marketing taking a much bigger hit. Maybe 5 to 8% max. We have already been hit very hard. Some parts of the country will see reduction in prices i'm sure over 10 to 20% in the next 3 years. Southern California though will be pretty steady and hopefully will start it's recovery soon.

Temecula Homes, Murrieta, Menifee, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, and surrounding areas are on sale right now! You can buy a positive cash flow house with 3% down. While everyone is worried about the housing market, investors are buying homes in large quantities. If you have money, the best place to put it right now is in Southern California real estate.  Over the next 3 years, my goal is going to be to buy as much property as possible so when the market returns we will be taken care of financially. Anyone that is holding back is making a big mistake.  Keep watching the real estate data coming out and do research yourself.

Invest Wisely,

Skylar Lewis, Realtor


Measure to help bring stability to home values and accelerate sale of vacant properties

In an effort to stabilize home values and improve conditions in communities where foreclosure activity is high, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced a temporary policy that will expand access to FHA mortgage insurance and allow for the quick resale of foreclosed properties. The announcement is part of the Obama administration commitment to addressing foreclosure. Just yesterday, Secretary Donovan announced $2 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants to local communities and nonprofit housing developers to combat the effects of vacant and abandoned homes…

…The waiver will take effect on February 1, 2010 and is effective for one year, unless otherwise extended or withdrawn by the FHA Commissioner. To protect FHA borrowers against predatory practices of “flipping” where properties are quickly resold at inflated prices to unsuspecting borrowers, this waiver is limited to those sales meeting the following general conditions:

All transactions must be arms-length, with no identity of interest between the buyer and seller or other parties participating in the sales transaction.

In cases in which the sales price of the property is 20 percent or more above the seller’s acquisition cost, the waiver will only apply if the lender meets specific conditions.

The waiver is limited to forward mortgages, and does not apply to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchase program.

Specific conditions and other details of this new temporary policy are in the text of the waiver, available on HUD’s website at:

To read this press release in its entirety, please visit: