South Orange County Real Estate

by Nick Bublik & Irina Bond

OC Register announces new ‘Real Estate’ Sunday section

The Orange County Register announced it is adding more depth to its print coverage of the local real estate market with the launch of Real Estate, a new Sunday section, beginning March 7. Packaged into a smart design, Real Estate will include exclusive features, profiles and key developments from blogs, which includes Lansner on Real Estate, Mortgage Insider, Huntington Homes, Laguna Beach Homes, South Coast Homes and Irvine Homes. Content from OC Homes, a Sunday section containing advertising information on new, resale and rental homes, will also publish within the new Real Estate section beginning Sunday.

Check it out here, and let us know what you think. Yesterday was their first edition, and I love it! No paper waste, and it’s surprisingly easy to navigate. One slight disadvantage, though – the font seems a little small on my laptop screen.

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

My Thoughts on Technology & Real Estate

According to the 2008 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 87% of all homebuyers used the Internet as an information source. I came across a comment on a real estate blog today that really hits home on what I believe about technology and its role in real estate: “Technology will never replace the Agent; however the Agent who uses technology will replace the Agent who does not.” We can twitter, facebook, blog, etc., until our faces turn blue, but in the end, there’s still a human factor that makes Realtors invaluable to buyers and sellers. An agent’s real job is putting a face on everything and making it real. Home, like family, is mostly heart, not just mind.

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

10 Things to Do on Valentine’s Day in South Orange County

I know a lot of my friends are scrambling to find something to do on Valentine’s Day this year, so I decided to compile a list for both adults (in a relationship AND single) and children alike. So whether you love it or hate it, Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. Valentine’s Day Hike
Sunday, Feb 14 9:00a to 11:30a
at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Little Sycamore Canyon Staging Area, Laguna Beach, CA

Enjoy the canyon views, look for early wildflowers and learn about love in the wild on this moderate, 2-mile hike over steep and rocky terrain (400-ft. elevation gain) with Orange County Interpretive Specialist Laura Cohen and Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers. Reservations required.

Event Website

2. Valentine’s Day at Simply Fondue
Sunday, Feb 14 11:00a to 11:00p
at Simply Fondue, Mission Viejo, CA

Romantics, wine lovers and music lovers can celebrate “Wine, Roses and Musical Strings” on Valentine’s Day at Simply Fondue. Their special Valentine’s Day prix-fixe menu includes a champagne toast, a satchel filled with chocolate, a Simply Fondue Gift Card (a $25 value) and long-stem roses for the ladies upon departure.

Event Website

3. Valentine’s Day Brunch at Las Brisas
Sunday, Feb 14 9:00a to 3:00p
at Las Brisas, Laguna Beach, CA

Celebrate Valentine’s Day this year at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach with a special four course champagne brunch from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Items to be determined, but being as Las Brisas is known for both seafood and Mexican fare, it’s very likely that you can woo your sweetheart with such.

Event Website

4. Salsa Valentine Party at Dance Palace
Sunday, Feb 14 5:00p to 8:30p
at Dance Palace, Aliso Viejo, CA

DJ Mario from JC Fandangos, Habana Cabana & the Conga Room will play the hottest Salsa, Merengue, Bachata music and more! Salsa lessons at 5:00, Open Dancing, Appetizers, Desserts, Wine & Soft Drinks all included for $15.00 p/per.

Event Website

5. Valentine’s Dinner at the Chart House Restaurant
Sunday, Feb 14 2:00p to 11:00p
at Chart House Restaurant, Dana Point, CA

Celebrate Valentine’s Day this year at the Chart House in Dana Point during extended hours, from 2:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., with their regular menu featuring fresh seafood, succulent steaks, and mouthwatering deserts.

Event Website

6. Valentine’s Day Brunch and Dinner at Salt Creek Grille
Sunday, Feb 14 10:00a to 2:00p
at Salt Creek Grille, Dana Point, CA

Celebrate Valentine’s Day this year at the Salt Creek Grille, with either a delicious brunch or special Valentine’s dinner. The restaurant is serving their traditional Sunday brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with live jazz music from the Tom Morey Quartet. For dinner, choose from an a la carte menu featuring such holiday specials as steak, chops, and seafood.

Event Website

7. Valentine’s Day Night Out
Sunday, Feb 14 5:00p to 11:00p
at Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, CA
Price: $30
Phone: (949) 494-2535
Age Suitability: Kids and up

The Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach Breakers Keystone Club will host a fun-filled Valentine’s Day night for children on Sunday, Feb. 14. The event is from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Laguna Beach branch at 1085 Laguna Canyon Rd. Enjoy crafts, group games, gym time, Wii tournaments, table games and more. Particpants will have access to the Teen Center for an evening movie and popcorn. Dinner is included.

8. Calling All Singles! This Valentine’s Day
Sunday, Feb 14 6:00p
at The Ranch Sports Grill, Ladera Ranch, CA

Join us at “The Ranch” this Valentine’s Day. Who says its only for couples? We are using this opportunity for singles to have a chance to find love. This event will be Hosted by comedian Chris Kanik, and will consist of a fun a stress free evening of playing the dating game, speed dating, and even auctioning off dates with our employees or guests!

Event Website

9. Valentine’s Day Brunch at the Reserve Wine Bar and Shop!
Sunday, Feb 14 10:00a to 2:00p
at Reserve Wine Bar and Shop, Ladera Ranch, CA

Enjoy a decadent 3 course, expertly prepared, romantic Valentine’s Day Brunch presented by Chef Brandon Erdo.

Your 3 course brunch includes a fresh starter such as vanilla yogurt and fruit puree, a rich entree such as crab hash, stuffed french toast or smoked salmon omelet, finishing with a sweet coffee cake or beignet.

Event Website

10. Valentine’s Day Sunset Whale Watching & Champagne Cruise
Sunday, Feb 14 4:00p to 6:00p
at Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching, Dana Point, CA
Price: $29 per person
Age Suitability: 21 and up

Join us for a unique and romantic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! You’ll cruise aboard the 95′ Dana Pride at sunset as we search for whales, dolphin and other marine along the beautiful Orange County coastline. Chocolates and Valentine’s Day treats are included! Be sure to make reservations at one of Dana Point Harbor’s many romantic restaurants for after the cruise and you’ll have an unforgettable evening! This trip includes one glass of complimentary champagne for each guest 21 and over!

Filed under: Holidays, ,

Beware of a Mortgage Rate Spike This April

Last year the Treasury department announced that they would stop buying mortgage backed securities as 2009 wound down.  This year the Feds will continue the $1.25 trillion purchase program of mortgage-backed securities, which has decreased the 30-year conforming fixed-rate mortgage to all-time lows in the past year, until March 31, 2010.  But what happens after March 31st?

Foreign investors have already shied away from purchasing mortgage backed securities for obvious reasons.  There really is no security in this investment anymore.  Few, if any investors actually service the loans, and with the housing industry still very weak, and loan servicers holding almost all the power over the loans, investors are no longer flocking to purchase the loans from the original lenders.  The lenders control modifications, payment forebearance rights, foreclosure proceedings decisions, etc.

It is predicted that in order to entice investors, mortgage rates will have to rise dramatically in the near future.  We are hearing rates numbers in the mid 5% range up to “the sky’s the limit” types of rates.

Historically, mortgage rates moved in tandem with the yield and pricing on the 10 year Treasury bond.  Currently, investors are dumping their holdings in this bond with new inventory due to be released shortly.

The rise in mortgage rates WILL impact buying power for those who have been reluctant to make that move recently.  As an example, the interest only payment on a $200,000 mortgage at 4.5% is $750.00 for the first payment.  At 5.25% that interest only payment rises to $875.00 for the first payment.  That is a substantial difference in monthly payment.  If rates rise to 6%, that interest only payment will rise to $1,000.00.  A buyer loses $50,000 in purchasing power with that 1.5% increase in rate!

Analysts are suggesting that IF rates should rise as high as 6%, we could see another 10% drop in home values by the end of 2010.

In some areas, housing is again starting to sell, and sellers are holding the line on pricing at least until the home buyer tax credits run out.  If you are one of the people contemplating buying a house to cash in on that tax credit, you might seriously think about getting off the fence now.  Even if prices drop, who knows when or if we will see mortgage rates as low as they are now. Granted, rates have already risen, but they are still very low historically.

Modified from

Filed under: Mortgage Rates, ,

How to Qualify for the Extended First-Time (and Current) Homebuyer Tax Credit

A November 6, 2009 law extends the popular first-time homebuyer credit of up to $8,000 and creates a new credit worth as much as $6,500 for long-time homeowners who purchase a new principal home.

First-time homebuyer credit:

  • The deadline for the $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit is extended past November 30, 2009.
  • Buyers must enter into a binding contract to buy a home on or before April 30, 2010 and close on the home sale by June 30, 2010.
  • For purchases after November 6, 2009, the income ceiling to qualify for the full credit is raised, from $75,000 to $125,000 adjusted gross income for single filers and from $150,000 to $225,000 adjusted gross income for married couples filing jointly.

Long-time homebuyer credit:

  • A new $6,500 credit is available for homebuyers who have owned a home for a period of five consecutive years in the eight years prior to purchase.
  • The credit applies to purchases made after November 6, 2009. Buyers must enter into a binding contract to buy a home on or before April 30, 2010 and close on the home sale by June 30, 2010.
  • The income ceiling to qualify for the full credit is $125,000 adjusted gross income for single filers and $225,000 adjusted gross income for married couples filing jointly.

Some military, federal employees get extra one year to qualify

Military service members and certain other federal employees serving outside the country have an extra year to to qualify for a homebuyer credit. Eligible taxpayers must enter into a binding contract to buy a principal residence on or before April 30, 2011.

Important requirements about claiming the homebuyer credit

How and when you claim the credit  (on Form 5405) on your tax return depends on when you purchase your home.

  • If you bought your home at any time during 2009, you can claim the credit when you file your 2009 taxes in 2010.
  • If you purchased your home on or before November 6, 2009,  you have the option to amend your 2008 tax return. But based on IRS information, claiming the credit when you file your regular 2009 return is likely to get the credit to you faster.
  • If you bought your home after November 6 and before January 1, 2010, you can not amend your 2008 tax return, as a result of changes the IRS made to Form 5405. used to claim the credit. You can claim the credit when you file your 2009 tax return.
  • Those who buy in 2010 can choose to claim the credit when they file either their 2009 or 2010 tax returns.

NOTE: Taxpayers who claim the credit on their 2009 tax return must file a paper – not an electronic (e-filed) – return because certain documents verifying the home purchase must be attached and filed by mail.

Home-purchase documents required by the IRS

For first-time homebuyers:

  • For purchasers of conventional homes, a copy of Form HUD-1, Settlement Statement, or other settlement statement, showing all parties’ names and signatures, property address, sales price and date of purchase.
  • For purchasers of mobile homes who are unable to get a settlement statement, a copy of the executed retail sales contract showing all parties’ names and signatures, property address, purchase price and date of purchase.
  • For a newly constructed home where a settlement statement is not available, a copy of the certificate of occupancy showing the owner’s name, property address and date of the certificate.

For long-time homebuyers:

To qualify, eligible taxpayers must show that they lived in their old homes for a five-consecutive-year period during the eight-year period ending on the purchase date of the new home. To claim the credit, long-time residents must attach the documents above. The IRS also recommends attaching any of the following to document the five-consecutive-year period:

  • Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement, or substitute mortgage interest statements,
  • Property tax records or
  • Homeowner’s insurance records.

Hoping to buy a home in 2010 and getting the credit?

Keep in mind that you can not claim it on your tax return until you have closed the sale.

Consider filing your 2009 taxes early in 2010, especially if you’re getting a refund. If and when you buy a home, you can amend your 2009 return to claim the credit.

How the first-time homebuyer credit works

The following rules apply to the first-time homebuyer credit:

  • The credit is equal to 10 percent of the home purchase price, up to a limit of $8,000.
  • If you qualify for the credit when you file your regular tax return, either your refund will be increased or your taxes reduced by as much as $8,000.
  • You can keep the credit, as long as you own the home for at least three years.
  • The credit does not apply to any home purchased for more than $800,000.
  • The credit is not available if you buy your home from a close relative, such as your spouse, parents, grandparent, child or grandchild — or a close relative of your spouse.

What qualifies as a principal residence?

It can be a house, a condo, co-op, house trailer or houseboat, within the United States. Vacation and rental homes are not eligible.

Who is considered a “first-time” homebuyer?

  • You are, if you’ve never owned a home as your principal residence.
  • However, you could qualify even if you’ve owned a home before, just not as your principal residence during the three years prior to the purchase.

Your principal residence is where you live for most of the year.

Important: Married couples cannot qualify for the credit unless both spouses meet the three-year rule.

Other restrictions on homebuyers:

  • You must be 18 years or older on the date of purchase. If married, at least one spouse must be 18 or older.
  • You can’t be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer during the year you buy the home.

What are the income limitations?

For purchases on or before November 6, 2009:

For single taxpayers, the credit decreases as modified adjusted gross income rises above $75,000, and it disappears altogether above $95,000.

For married couples, the credit starts to decrease at modified adjusted gross of $150,000 and disappears after $170,000.

Modified adjusted gross income is your adjusted gross income, or AGI (your gross income minus certain deductions such as IRAs and alimony) with tax-free foreign income counted.

For purchases after November 6, 2009

For single taxpayers, the credit decreases as modified adjusted gross income rises above $125,000 and it disappears altogether above $145,000.

For married couples, the credit starts to decrease at modified adjusted gross of $225,000 and disappears after $245,000.

How does the credit affect the taxes I owe and the refund I get?

The credit reduces your tax liability, that is, the amount of taxes you are required to pay. Depending on your tax withholdings, you could get a bigger refund or owe less in taxes when you file.

If, for example, your taxes owed for one year are $7,000, you’ve had $4,000 withheld from your wages, and you buy a home worth $100,000 in January of 2010, the housing credit would entitle you to a refund, as shown below.

Tax liability
Minus housing credit
Minus withholding
But if, for example, your tax liability was $10,000, but you had paid no withholding, then the credit would reduce the taxes you owe, as illustrated below.
Tax Liability
Minus housing credit
Minus withholding
Taxes due

Filed under: Tax Credits,

Understanding the Extended First-Time (and Current) Homebuyer Tax Credit

Following Congress approval, President Obama has signed off on the bill approving an extension of the $8,000 new home buyer tax credit until April 30th 2010. Also, the new provisions in the extension are NOT retroactive. Here is a summary of the new and updated provisions and their impact on you if you have or are planning to buy a house. New IRS forms and claiming instructions are also provided.

Qualification Period : First-time home buyers who bought after January 1, 2009 and before April 1 2010 (with closing to take place before July 1 2010), would get the $8,000 home buyer tax credit. For the purposes of claiming the tax credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs and the title to the property transfers to the home owner. If you and your spouse claim the credit on a joint return (both of you must meet the income and past ownership criteria to qualify), each spouse is treated as having been allowed half of the credit for purposes of repaying the credit. So the total amount claimable is still only $8000 (up to April 30th 2010).

Income qualification limits: The home buyers’ credit would be available to individuals with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of up to $125,000, or $250,000 for couples, up from $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples under the original rules. The higher income limits are only for homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009. That is, the existing MAGI phase-outs of $75,000 to $95,000 or $150,000 to $170,000 for joint filers still apply to purchases on or before Nov. 6, 2009. Those with incomes higher than the above limits do not qualify for any part of the tax credit.

Current Homeowners looking for a replacement primary residence could also qualify for a $6,500 (up to $3,250 for a married individual filing separately) under the new “long-time resident” provision. They must have lived in the same principal residence for any five-consecutive year period during the eight-year period that ended on the date the replacement home is purchased. This new provision also only applies to homes purchased after Nov. 6th 2009. The IRS has stepped up compliance checks involving the home buyer credit for those with past homes and they must provide a mortgage Interest Statement, Property tax records or Homeowner’s insurance records, to prove compliance with past residency criteria.

Claiming the new home buyer credit: For qualifying purchases, taxpayers have the option of claiming the credit on either their 2009 or 2010 return. A new version of Form 5405, First-Time Home buyer Credit, is now available on the IRS website. Taxpayers claiming the credit on their 2009 returns, will not be able to file electronically because of the added documentation requirements, but instead will need to file a paper return by using the new version of Form 5405. A taxpayer who purchased a home on or before Nov. 6 and chooses to claim the credit on an original or amended 2008 return may continue to use the current version of Form 5405.

In addition to filling out a Form 5405, all eligible home buyers must include with their 2009 tax returns one of the following documents in order to receive the credit:

  • A copy of the settlement statement showing all parties’ names and signatures, property address, sales price, and date of purchase. Normally, this is the properly executed Form HUD-1, Settlement Statement.
  • For mobile home purchasers who are unable to get a settlement statement, a copy of the executed retail sales contract showing all parties’ names and signatures, property address, purchase price and date of purchase.
  • For a newly constructed home where a settlement statement is not available, a copy of the certificate of occupancy showing the owner’s name, property address and date of the certificate.

The IRS expects to start processing 2009 tax returns claiming the home buyer credit in mid-February after it completes the updating and testing of systems to meet the law’s new requirements and to deter fraud related to the home buyer credit. Normally, it takes about four to eight weeks to get a refund claimed on a complete and accurate paper return where all required documents are attached. For those homebuyers filing early, the IRS expects the first refunds based on the homebuyer credit will be issued toward the end of March.

– The new $8000 credit can be used towards the down payment of a house bought in the credit qualifying period. You need to work with your lender to take advantage of this provision.

Tax Credit Exclusions: Homes that cost more than $800,000 aren’t eligible for the credit and you must be over 18 years old to claim the credit (dependents are not eligible to claim the credit either). Those who sell their new home or stop using it as their main residence within three years would have to repay the credit. You cannot claim the credit if acquired your home by gift or inheritance OR if you acquired your home from a related person.

– If two or more unmarried individuals buy a main home, they can allocate the credit among the individual owners using any reasonable method. The total amount allocated cannot exceed the smaller of $8,000 or 10% of the purchase price. Note: A reasonable method is any method that does not allocate all or a part of the credit to a co-owner who is not eligible to claim that part of the credit (I would go with 50/50 as a reasonable method if one person is not eligible for the credit).

– The purchase date is how you decide which credit you are eligible for. Only homes purchased from Jan 1 2009 to April 1st 2010 are eligible for the fully refundable $8000 credit. If you constructed your main home, you are treated as having purchased it on the date you first occupied it.

Foreign or Overseas Homes: You are considered a first time home buyer when buying an American residence, even if you owned principal residence outside of the United States within the previous three years. Non-resident alien’s cannot claim the credit.

– Members of the Armed Forces and certain federal employees serving outside the U.S. have an extra year to buy a principal residence in the U.S. and still qualify for the credit. An eligible taxpayer must buy or enter into a binding contract to buy a home by April 30, 2011, and settle on the purchase by June 30, 2011.

Modified from

Filed under: Tax Credits,

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About Us

As a Russian-speaking South Orange County team and residents of 20 years, Nick Bublik, REALTOR®, & his assistant, Irina Bond, are qualified and committed to guiding their clients through the real estate buying and selling processes with utmost loyalty and a wide range of experience.

Committed to providing exceptional service in each of their endeavors, Nick & Irina are passionate about helping each client reach their real estate goals. Through organization, dedication and perseverance, they deliver on their promises and facilitate results, no matter how complex the circumstances.

Together, Nick & Irina promise real estate transactions that exceed expectations.

Nick Bublik, REALTOR®
(949) 233-9304
Irina Bublik, Assistant
(949) 939-7831