Up to $95,000 in down payment assistance in Santa Clara

The Key to Your Next Home is Here
Get up to 95k in down payment assistance for your 1st home!

One of the toughest parts of buying a home is coming up with the down payment.  This, combined with the ridiculously high prices in Santa Clara, has made it nearly impossible for most lower income families to even hope of buying a home.  Housing Trust Silicon Valley has been around for almost 20 years and was formed with goal of helping people with home ownership.  With that in mind they have recently announced that they have increased their maximum down payment assistance to $95,000.  The GAP assistance program offers low income buyers a deferred interest loan that can be used to for up to %20 of the purchase price.  Income levels are determined by household size.  For example, a single member household can have a max income of $59,400 and a 4 person household can have up to $84,900.  Even in this expensive market there are many reasons to buy.  This is a chance to get into the housing market and build equity.  For more information about the GAP program and finding a home that meets the criteria contact me at 408-896-3580.  You can also check out their website at:

Gap Assistance Program (GAP)


12 Reasons for “Just Cause” Evictions in San Jose

justcause (2)

If you’re thinking of buying a rental property in San Jose be sure to review the Ellis Act and the new ordinances that have been recently added.  On Tuesday, April 18th, on a narrow 6-5 vote, the San Jose City Council imposed new restrictions on the rights of rental property owners.  The new regulations include a “Just Cause” ordinance and payment of relocation expenses for renters in rent controlled apartments.

So what exactly is a “Just Cause”?  The council proposed the following 12 possible reasons for evicting a tenant.  Landlords must not only provide a reason but they must provide documentation to back it up.

  1. Nonpayment of rent
  2. Material or Habitual lease violation
  3. Damage to the apartment
  4. Refusal to sign a new agreement
  5. Nuisance behavior
  6. Refusing access to the apartment
  7. Unapproved holdover subtenant
  8. Substantial rehabilitation
  9. Ellis Act Removal
  10. Owner move-in
  11. Order to vacate
  12. Vacation of unpermitted apartment

The updates to the Ellis act can be found at  http://bit.ly/Ellis-SJ1  and http://bit.ly/Ellis-SJ2

The “Just Cause” ordinance and can found at http://bit.ly/TPOD2D8


What’s More Important Than Your Credit Score?

The most important factor in getting a home loan may not be what you think.  Most people think credit score is the most important, and YES, it is important, but even with a great credit score there is one thing that can prevent you from getting a loan.  Debt to income ratio.  The DTI is what tells underwriters that you can afford the monthly payments.  This ratio shows what percentage of your monthly income is used to pay monthly debts.  If the percentage is to high (43% is the max for most loans) underwriters will deny the loan.  This is not a judgment call by underwriters, they really have no choice.  Since most loans are packaged and resold the DTI must fall within Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac requirements.

Keep in mind it’s not enough to have the income, you must be able to prove it via w2’s or tax documents.  For self-employed people this can pose a big problem since business owners often take advantage of writing off business expenses to show less income on tax returns.  So when considering applying for a home loan (new or refinance) be sure to make an assessment of your own income and projected debts and make sure you fall within the DTI guidelines.  Oh, and keep that credit score up as well.

The Key to Your Next Home is Here
The Key to Your Next Home is Here

5 projects earning top ROI

Wondering if your home improvement project will pay off when you sell?  Here are some of the more popular projects and the returns for more upscale homes.  Returns can vary greatly depending on where you live and how much you spend.  While it’s a good idea to consider the resale value of your improvements, be sure to think about your needs as well!  Unless your planning a move in the near future you’re the one who will be enjoying all the changes.


Up to $2,500 for 1st time homebuyers!


Are you looking to buy your first home in San Jose or surrounding areas?  The California Association of Realtors Affordability Fund has a program that can help you pay for up to six months (up to $2500) of HOA dues.

Many 1st time buyers are looking at condos so this program makes sense if you are just starting out or if you have not owned a home in the last 3 years. The requirements are simple:

  • Must have worked with a California Realtor
  • The property is your primary residence
  • You are a 1st Time buyer which means you have not deducted from your tax returns for the last 3 years
  • The home you purchased must have HOA dues

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please call Sonja Norland at (408) 896-3580 or email at Sonja.Norland@EliteRM.com for more information. This program is only available for a limited time so if you have been thinking about buying, call now!


11 Top Home Improvements That Pay Off in California

Thinking about remodeling?  Not every remodel will pay off when selling your home.  Some remodels generate far greater returns than others.  Here in California certain improvements are more valuable to prospective buyers. Decks have long been at the top of the list.  Here in San Jose, California we spend a lot of time outdoors.  A deck is an easy and inexpensive way to add square footage to your home.  Here are a few of the most popular and valuable improvements that will increase the value of your home.



Thinking of adding a wet bar or an outdoor kitchen?  Before making that move check out the some of the least popular improvements for prospective buyers.

Do You Know Who’s Checking Your Credit?

Most consumers know that when you apply for credit, a credit check is run. But did you know that other non-credit companies also run credit checks?  You would think that you would be explicitly notified if a company was running a check on your credit but that is not always the case. As the poll shows below many people were surprised to learn about inquiries on their credit.  The impact of an inquiry on your credit score will vary depending on the type of inquiry.  Multiple inquiries can add up to a significant change to your score and not in a good way.  If you are in the process of getting a home loan or refinance this can result in a lender rejecting a loan.   Here are a few ways an inquiry can occur that you may not be aware of:

  • A retail store offering zero interest for a period of time (example: no payments for 2 years)
  • Cell Phone service providers
  • Utilities (water, phone, electric)
  • Solar Companies
  • Landlords
  • Home insurers

If you are applying for a loan or in the process of getting a loan take care not to make changes or except offers of credit before closing.

Myths about Credit Scores

Most people know that their credit score is one of the main factors in getting approved for a home loan.  What they may not know is all the factors that actually make up a credit score.   There are three main credit reporting agencies and often different information is sent to each agency.  Each agency has its own system for calculating a credit score and scores may vary depending on the purpose of the loan.  That’s right, a score for applying for a credit card or car loan is different that a home loan.  Don’t be fooled by online credit reporting companies to give you a valid credit score.  These scores are almost always higher, sometimes as much as 50 points!  Instead focus on the credit report.  This report will show you all your credit information and often tips on how to improve it.  Here are the key factors:

  • Pay bills on time – I know this is obvious but it is the top factor. Your credit report will show which bills are being sent to the reporting agency
  • Don’t close credit cards – This will automatically lower your score in the short term.  If the card is costing you money, at least wait until after you have your loan before closing the card.
  • Use all your credit cards a little – if you have a card tucked away that you don’t really use it won’t help your score.  Use it once or twice a year to make a small purchase.
  • Don’t charge more than 30% of your available credit on each card – This has an impact on your score even if you pay it off every month.