California Ranch Bigger Than San Francisco Hits Market for $72 Million

A working ranch larger than the city of San Francisco is asking $72 million. The property, just 40 miles from Oakland, is believed to be the largest piece of land for sale in the state of California, according to the listing agent.

At 50,500 acres, the property accommodates up to 1,500 cow and calf pairs. The right buyer is someone who “wants to relive the Old West,” said listing agent Todd Renfrew of California Outdoor Properties.

The N3 Cattle Company ranch has been in the same family for about 85 years and spans four counties, including Santa Clara County, Alameda County, San Joaquin County and Stanislaus County.

It has a diverse terrain that includes watersheds, creeks, steep canyons, woodlands, meadows, ponds and rock outcroppings, and it is sprinkled with hunting cabins, Mr. Renfrew said. At its high point, the ranch has an elevation of about 4,000 feet. The main house is a low-slung four-bedroom home, and there are four cabins used for employee housing.

The property also includes 200 miles of private roads for hiking, trail-running, mountain biking and all-terrain vehicles.

The sellers are sisters and fourth-generation ranchers Sandra Naftzger and Natalie Naftzger Davis. Their family has been cattle ranching for 135 years in Arizona, California and Oregon, Sandra Naftzger said. The original parcels for the California ranch were purchased in the 1930s and 1940s by their grandmother, and their father, Roy Edgar “Ted” Naftzger, Jr., expanded it significantly through the 1980s.

The sisters spent much of their childhood on the ranch, Sandra Naftzger said, and have been operating the property for the last 20 years. “My father was all business,” she added. “We were always taught to be respectful of the cattle operation. We’d be spending time with the managers and the buckaroos. It takes a village.”

Sandra Naftzger said she and her sister are selling because they are ready to move on.

Original Article

The 10 most affordable beach towns in America

For many Americans, the ultimate summertime fantasy has less to do with washboard abs and a killer tan than owning their own piece of beachfront real estate — aka bliss. From Memorial Day through Labor Day (and beyond), beach lovers across the U.S. find themselves dreaming of escaping the hellish deadlines, soul-sucking commutes, and humdrum daily grind — and trading it all in for salty ocean breezes, caipirinhas on the sand, and fresh lobster rolls from a seafood joint around the corner.

Now just imagine doing it from your very own place.

There’s just one problem: Conventional wisdom suggests that only the seriously loaded can afford to own prime beach–area real estate. But we’re here to tell you that you don’t need seven-figure bank balances to make this sunny reverie into a reality. You just have to find the right beach town, one serving up a magical combo of home affordability and surfy satisfaction.

That’s where the sunburned data team at realtor.com® comes in. As we do every summer, we scoured the U.S.’s 95,471 miles of shoreline to locate the most affordable beach towns in the nation. What we discovered were a sometimes surprising selection of sun-and-sand options that are a lot more financially feasible than a “country cottage” in the Hamptons or Malibu, Calif.

And we never lose sight of a very important fact: A beach home is more than a dream, it’s an investment.

So, what’s the key to avoiding a financial belly-flop of a beach house?

“At the outset, you should have some exit strategy,” says James H. Boykin, author of “Investing in a Vacation Home for Pleasure and Profit.”

In other words, getting into a sweet place with plenty of peace and quiet might be easy. But if you buy in a place that’s not desirable to other beachgoers, you might have a hard time selling or renting it out.

To find America’s most affordable beach towns, our number-crunching ninjas located the country’s biggest metropolitan areas with the highest share of listings with keywords such as “beach,” “beachfront,” and “ocean.” (Metros include an area’s main city and its surrounding suburbs, exurbs, and urban areas.) Then we made sure these markets had lots of fun water-based activities, narrowing our list to the places that boast the highest percentage of things like rafting, kayaking, surfing, boating, and fishing on Yelp.com. We then ranked these metros based on their median prices for the 12-month period of May 2018 to April 2019.

See the 10 cities HERE

Most consumers overestimate what it takes to get a mortgage

Fannie Mae survey reveals widespread lack of mortgage knowledge

When it comes to obtaining a mortgage, the majority of consumers think it requires a higher credit score and larger down payment than is actually necessary, according to a recent survey by Fannie Mae.

Of the 3,647 surveyed consumers, most vastly overestimated the requirements to obtain a mortgage. Specifically, 53% thought a credit score of 650 was required, when many lenders actually allow a score of 580.

And, when asked how much money a borrower is required to put down, 40% said they didn’t know. Of those who did have an idea, they cited 10% as a required minimum, while a number of programs offer as little as 3% down.

Only 23% of respondents were aware of low-down payment programs, up just 1% from three years earlier.

Further, when it came to debt-to-income ratios, consumers were equally confused, with as many as 61% saying they didn’t know – up from 59% three years ago. Of those who did provide a guess, they cited 40% as the required DTI, when many lenders actually approve 50%.

Fannie Mae’s survey also revealed that even those who were preparing to purchase a home in the next few years were only slightly more confident and more knowledgeable than the rest.

“The lack of mortgage qualification understanding is pervasive, even among current homeowners, those who say they are actively planning to purchase a home in the next three years, and those who successfully answered questions testing general financial literacy,” the researchers wrote.

Original Article

1876 Flour Mill Converted to a Modern Dwelling Is This Week’s Most Popular Home

A flour mill magically transformed into a modern, rustic-chic sanctuary is the week’s most popular home on realtor.com®.

Built in 1876 and perched on the banks of the Raritan River, the Neshanic Mill is a local landmark in Hillsborough Township, NJ. It even graces the “Welcome to Hillsborough” sign at the edge of town.

If the popularity of the listing is any indication, there are plenty of buyers interested in scrounging up enough grist to make an offer.

The old mill bested pretty stiff competition this week. “Real Housewives of New York” fan favorite Ramona Singer dropped the price on her NYC pad and seems to have found a buyer. Another “Real Housewife”—this one from Potomac, NJ—is attached to a popular home reportedly being sold by her estranged husband.

Besides these notable names, this week’s list includes several gawkworthy properties including a luxe waterfront San Diego beach house and a time capsule midcentury bed-and-breakfast in Texas—with all the furnishings included.

But despite fame, flash, and notoriety, it’s the little flour mill from the 1870s that ground the competition into dust. Have a look at all this week’s most popular properties by scrolling on down…

See the homes here!

The Secret 5.9M Homeowners May Be Missing Out On

A recent sharp drop in mortgage rates hasn’t unlocked savings just for those looking to purchase a home—homeowners may also benefit. About 5.9 million borrowers could see their rates drop by at least 75 basis points by refinancing their mortgages, according to Black Knight, a mortgage software and analytics firm. That is up by 2 million in the past month alone.

That’s the largest population of eligible borrower candidates in nearly three years for savings. The savings could add up to about $271 per month per borrower.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped below 4% recently, averaging 3.94% in the latest week.

If rates drop another quarter point, Black Knight estimates that 7 million borrowers could then potentially benefit from refinancing their home mortgage.

The drop in mortgage rates is also boosting affordability for home shoppers. The monthly payment on an average-priced home (assuming a 20% down payment) has fallen 6% over the past six months

“When we factor income into the equation, we see that it takes 22% of the median income to purchase the average-priced home,” notes Ben Graboske, president of Black Knight’s data and analytics division. “That’s the lowest payment-to-income ratio in more than a year as well, and far below the long-term average of 25.1%.”

Also, as of May, the monthly payment required to purchase the average-priced house with 20% down is $1,173, the lowest such payment in more than a year.

Economists say rates are dropping due to trade war disputes with China and Mexico. That is prompting lower yields as investors to flock to the bond market, which is typically viewed as a safety net. Mortgage rates loosely follow yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note.

Original Article

I Bought a House With a Pool, and Wow, Was I in Over My Head!

We'll just clean this up in a week, right?
We’ll just clean this up in a week, right?Sally Herigstad

I live in a house with a gorgeous in-ground pool. When my husband and I bought the property in 2012, I swooned over visions of pool parties filled with floaties and endless summer fun.

It’s a good thing I didn’t start sending out those pool party invitations too soon. Because first, we had to figure out how to repair and maintain a swimming pool, which is no small task. Here are a few things I learned about what it takes to have a home with a pool.

Lesson No. 1: Renovating a run-down pool will drain your bank account dry

The home we’d purchased was a distressed property near Seattle that had been empty for years. Thieves had stolen anything they could, including equipment and wiring. My neighbor talked about chasing off groups of teenagers who trespassed onto the empty property and sat around the pool, throwing rocks and bottles into the water. By the time we’d bought the place, the pool water wasn’t just green. It was a menacing green, a black, lumpy morass.

We were about to discover just how expensive and harrowing pool repair can get.

For one, the pool equipment needed to be replaced. A new, energy-efficient heat pump cost $4,500. We bought a pool-cleaning robot for about $800. Just to get the pool running, we spent about $10,000.

It wasn’t just money, either. Because draining a fiberglass pool can cause the shell to shift, we had to actually clean the existing water in the pool rather than draining it. So we spent weeks dragging rubbish and rotting debris out of the murky depths. We evicted hundreds of croaking frogs and salamanders. We cleaned out gallons of pine needle sludge before the pool was even clean enough to start using the pool robot.

The day we could see the bottom of the pool was a long-awaited victory.

Lesson No. 2: Once it’s up and running, swimming pools rock!

And yet: Once all the repairs were done, our first pool party had me hooked! Friends came, and friends of friends. They brought food, and babies, and laughter! It’s a good thing I live in the country, because the shrieking and carrying on would have been heard for blocks away in the city.

I discovered why playing in a home pool is much better than going to a lake or a public pool. I control the temperature, for one thing. (I think 86 degrees is about right.) I test the water myself, so I know the chemicals are all just so. We follow our own rules, with all the floaty toys and basketball games we want.

Lesson No. 3: Even when your pool is fixed, maintenance costs a pretty penny

I’ll admit that my expectations of pool ownership were different from the reality. I had thought that once it was fixed up, we could add a few chemicals and run the pump filters every so often, and spend long, lazy summers lounging by the pool.

First, we live in the Pacific Northwest. So which long, lazy summers? You don’t know how short our summers are until you’re scanning the weather report, looking for enough sunshine to open the pool. I’m lucky if my pool doesn’t look more like this:

Second, pools require a lot of maintenance, and inevitably, repairs. Sometimes we say we should just throw cash in the water, for all the chemicals we buy and dump in the pool. Last year, the pipes sprang a leak, and the summer was half over before it was working again. We spend a significant portion of every summer working on our pool. Last summer, we spent about $500 on repairs, plus another $200 on chemicals.

Read the Rest Here

Fancy, yet Frugal: 10 Victorian Homes Under $300K You Can Buy Right Now

victorians-list-may-19
realtor.com

Victorian architecture is an expression of the “More is more” philosophy of design, producing ornate, intricate homes that resemble giant dollhouses. The style is perennially popular and when preserved properly, results in feature-worthy dwellings.

Victorians were supercharged in the late 1800s by the development of steam-powered sawmills, which could mass-produce wood trim with ornate patterns quickly and cheaply, making complicated designs in bright colors available to everyday Americans.

Many classic Victorians are still standing, in almost every corner of the country. And many of these large vintage homes are deceptively affordable.

We turned up 10 Victorians on the market for less than $300,000—and they aren’t fixer-uppers, either. Many of the homes we’ve highlighted below have been lovingly updated, restored, and preserved, ensuring that these grand dames will have a bright future.

Get ready to dream about stained glass, fancy parlors, and idly sitting on the front porch, watching the carriages roll by.

See the homes HERE!

Another Data Breech

First American shut down external access to an application on Friday after cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs alerted the title insurer that millions of records were exposed online. 

“The digitized records – including bank account numbers and statements, mortgage and tax records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, and drivers license images – were available without authentication to anyone with a Web browser,” Krebs wrote

Krebs, widely followed by security experts via his krebsonsecurity.com website, said the documents he accessed included current records as well as data going back to 2003. He said he didn’t know if anyone had accessed the information for criminal purposes.

“As of the morning of May 24, firstam.com was returning documents up to the present day (885,000,000+), including many PDFs and post-dated forms for upcoming real estate closings,” Krebs wrote. “By 2 p.m. ET Friday, the company had disabled the site that served the records. It’s not yet clear how long the site remained in its promiscuous state, but archive.org shows documents available from the site dating back to at least March 2017.”

Krebs posted an image of a record he got from the site related to the sale of a home in Scottsdale, Arizona. The document included Social Security number, mobile phone number, home address, email address and marital status. Krebs redacted that information to protect the seller’s privacy.

There is no evidence the security hole was exploited, First American said in a regulatory filing today. If that changes, the company will notify affected customers and provide credit monitoring services to them, the company said.

“An outside forensic firm has been retained to aid in assessing the extent to which any customer information may have been compromised,” First American said in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Though the ongoing investigation is in its early stages, at this time there is no indication that any large-scale unauthorized access to sensitive customer information occurred.”

First American set up a web page it said it will use to provide updates on the security breach. Click here to access it.

Read the Rest Here