Foreclosure Auction Process?

What Happens at a Foreclosure Auction?

Foreclosures have declined recently, but many houses are still being auctioned on courthouse steps across the country. Recently I attended one of these auctions; here is a run down of what happened and what I learned. (See also: The Process for Purchasing a House With Cash)

Finding a Foreclosure Auction Near You

Generally, the list of houses up for auction are posted at an official building in each county, and many listings are also accessible online through listing services such as LPS Agency Sales and Posting. These foreclosure auctions are also called trustee’s sales because the trustee of the mortgage is making the property available.

The auction we attended was for Solano County in California, which covers about a dozen cities. We arrived at the Vallejo City Hall a few minutes before the scheduled auction. The foreclosure auctions happen on the front steps of city hall twice a day. When we arrived, the auctioneer was sitting on the ground filling out forms. A few more people filed in and waited quietly.

The Auction Process

The auctioneer stood up and asked if everyone was ready, and then she started the auction by reading out all the listings that were canceled or postponed. Many houses get taken off the auction block because the banks have worked out a short sale or decided to modify the loan, and cancelations can happen as late as the date of the auction. After she rattled off a dozen numbers and addresses, she finally got to the actual houses for sale.

The first house was a 2,000 sq ft property in Vallejo, and the opening bid was $147,000.

Bidding Requirements

Before bidding, the qualified bidders stepped up to show the auctioneer their money. Basically, you can only bid if you can show that you have cashiers checks that can cover the amount of the bid. The bidders all have hundreds of thousands of dollars in cashiers checks in their pockets. A few people went up with their envelopes and then the bidding began.

The Bidding

The first bid was for a penny over the opening bid, then bids of $100 and $500 came in from two or three bidders. Finally the house was sold to a bidder for $158,000. After it was sold, the winner and the auctioneer stepped to the side to fill out forms, and the buyer gave the auctioneer a number of cashiers checks adding up to at least the bid amount. Any overage would be refunded later. The whole process took about 10 minutes.

For Buyers With Cash, Savings Are Substantial

During one of the breaks we talked to the winner of the first house. He told us that usually buyers can get 25% to 30% off the market price at auction. For example, the property he purchased for $158,000 was probably worth around $200,000. However, the risk is that buyers can’t inspect the inside of the houses they buy, and they are responsible for any liens such as back taxes or unpaid utilities. Buyers also need cash to close the transaction right on the spot. For these reasons, buyers are mostly professional investors or work for bigger companies.

After they purchase these houses, they often have to deal with the unpleasant business of evicting the former owners and making any necessary repairs. Currently many investors are renting out houses after they buy them. They are planning to sell after the housing market recovers further. The bidder we spoke to works for a company, and he said that he buys one or two houses per day.

Lightbulb – 5 Awesome DIY Projects…

The lightbulb – He Shows Us How To Make 5 Awesome

DIY Lightbulb Projects…


He Shows Us How To Make 5 Awesome DIY Light Bulb Projects… | DIY Joy Projects and Crafts Ideas

If you have upgraded your house to energy efficient light bulbs, you might wonder what to do with those old bulbs. To throw them away or to not throw them away — that’s the question!

Lightbulbs aren’t just for lighting up a room any more! There are so many DIY projects you can do with these little jewels!

This guy with Shake The Future shows us 5 projects you can do with lightbulbs.

Project #1:  He makes a great paper clip holder and, if you need a paper clip, all you have to do is shake the bulb. I think it’s such a unique and clever looking paper clip holder and you’re sure to have some inquiries when people see this sitting on your desk! This one is my favorite out of all of these!

Project #2:   He turns a lightbulb into a vase and he balances it by sitting it on a round cookie cutter…clever! It looks so beautiful holding a rose.

Project #3:  He makes a brilliant solar light out of a light bulb…such a cool idea and no electricity is needed!

Project #4:  Oil burning light, which is certainly great to have when the electricity goes out!

Project #5:  He pours Insta Morph into the lightbulb and bakes it in the oven. When it cools off, screws in a cork.  After it cools off he removes the glass bulb part and has a wine cork for opening your favorite wine!


Interior Design Trends That Turn Off Home Buyers

Interior Design Trends That Turn Off Home Buyers

| Oct 15, 2014

You want your home to look its best, and maybe you’ve been inspired by the interior design trends you’ve seen in magazines, on TV or on design websites.

But following some of the hottest home remodeling and design trends can backfire when it comes time to sell your home.

Buyers want to picture themselves in a home, and highly individualistic touches can get in the way of that.

When you’re ready to sell your home, it’s best to put things in pristine, move-in condition and remove all of the individual touches that made your house a home.

After all, your goal is to get potential buyers to picture themselves in the home—and they won’t be able to do that if your decorating style still dominates.

Check out the caveats that go along with these home interior design trends.

1. Boldly Painted Walls

Decorators often tout black or another bold paint color as the perfect backdrop to metallic accessories or appliances in modern home design.

The reality is that people prefer the exterior and interior walls of a home to be neutral. Even though repainting is cheap and relatively easy to do, it’s still a pain and buyers might not want to bother.

When decorating, your best bet is to stick to an appeasing hue for the walls and use accessories to provide pops of color.

2. Wallpaper

Bold, graphic patterns increasingly are being incorporated into interior design, often in the form of wallpaper.

But wallpaper—even if it’s only on one wall—is an extremely personal choice and time-consuming to remove if it doesn’t appeal to the buyer

Consider replacing wallpaper with a neutral paint for broader appeal.

3. Lavish Light Fixtures

While potential buyers want rooms that seem airy and bright, beware of installing a showpiece light fixture that is too modern or ornate.

Fixtures should enhance your home—not steal the spotlight.

4. Gleaming Gold

Designers may be mixing silver and gold to give homes star quality, but it might be wise to change out fixtures if they have the wrong metallic sheen.

Gold can give a home an outdated, ’80s feel. Switching out the faucet and door handles with a more appealing finish—such as brushed nickel—is relatively inexpensive and can help make your home appear sleek rather than out of style.

5. Converted Garages

People want a covered parking space so that they have a safe place for their car—especially in areas where street parking is at a premium. Additionally, people often use their garage as storage space.

If you convert your garage into a space tailored your specific needs, such as a music practice room, it may not suit your potential buyers.

6. Converted Bedrooms

Like with the garage, people want rooms built for their original purpose.

If you’ve converted an unused bedroom to an office, walk-in closet, or a game room, make sure you can easily convert it back to a bedroom when you’re ready to sell.

7. Carpets

While designers love to play with the texture of shag carpeting as it feels soft underfoot, the majority of home buyers prefer hardwood floors.

People assume carpets trap dirt, germs and odors, and they don’t want to go through the hassle of steam cleaning their home before they can move in. Potential buyers also don’t want to spend time removing carpet to expose hardwood floors.

If someone really loves carpet, it’s much easier for them to add it themselves—after the purchase.

8. Too-Lush Landscaping

The “outdoor living room” is all the rage, and you may be tempted to build out your backyard into a lavish wilderness of flowers.

But potential buyers may be hesitant to buy a home with an overly landscaped property requiring a lot of maintenance.

Focus on creating or maintaining a nice and neat outdoor space that people can enjoy without too much fuss.

9. Pools and Hot Tubs

A pool may seem like a luxurious feature, but it can be a big turnoff for buyers.

Pools are perceived to be expensive to maintain and potential safety hazards, especially for families with children. Above-ground pools are eyesores and can leave a dead spot in the backyard.

These sentiments extend to hot tubs, too. Many people see hot tubs as breeding grounds for bacteria, and they are not a feature easily removed from the deck or back yard.

10. Fancy (or Not) Pet Products

Sales of pet products are expected to increase nearly $3 billion from last year, and there’s an increasing market for luxury pet items.

But even animal lovers don’t want to see another family’s pet paraphernalia in a potential home. Even if your home is immaculate, the presence of pet-related items will give the impression that it’s dirty.

Be sure to remove all traces of your pet—including toys, food dishes and photos—before listing your home for sale.

Home Decor – Five big trends

Five big trends in home decor

Thanks to websites like Houzz and Pinterest and TV networks like HGTV and DIY, it’s easier than ever to keep up with home decor trends and find inspiration for improving your own home. Here are five of the top current interior design trends.

  1. Screen-free rooms: After a long day of using your smartphone and computer, it can feel amazing to come home and take a technology break. More and more, homeowners are creating specific screen-free rooms—perhaps a library, craft room, or listening room—where you can escape from technology for a while.
  2. Upholstered headboards: What if you could feel like you were sleeping in a luxury hotel bed every night? The bedding and mattress are an important part of that experience, but so is the aesthetic and comfort of an upholstered headboard.
  3. Earth tones: Natural colors have become increasingly popular, especially deep greens. It’s a great way to bring some of nature’s colors indoors, whether as an accent wall, in blankets and pillows, or for furniture.
  4. Black stainless steel: If you want a sleek, contemporary kitchen, black stainless steel is even more of a statement than traditional stainless steel.
  5. Patterned fabrics: While solid upholstery will never go out of style, patterns have become trendy of late. It’s an easy way to make a bold, eye-catching statement in your living space.

Financial Planning – Grow Your Money

Financial Planning: How to Make Your Money Grow

If you can run a business or a bake sale, you can learn how to manage your finances. Here, four simple strategies for acquiring the basics in financial planning



Photo by Sang An

Hire a Financial Planner

Most people should see an adviser for a tune-up annually. The adviser will assess your goals and adjust your planning and saving accordingly. (Find one at napfa.orgor At your first meeting, ask these three questions:

  • “How do you get paid?” Avoid advisers who charge referral fees.
  • “Are you a fiduciary?” This means that above all else, including her own beliefs about money, she must put your interests first. So, for example, she won’t recommend a financial product or plan simply because it will increase her compensation.
  • “How will you work with me to help me reach my goals?” If you want to go on a dream vacation, that may mean using a different savings vehicle than if you wish only to put away money for retirement. So it’s crucial that your adviser understand your priorities.

Pick Up a Good Book

The Millionaire Next Door ($17,, by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko; The Investment Answer($18,, by Daniel C. Goldie and Gordon S. Murray; and Charles Schwab’s New Guide to Financial Independence ($10,, by Charles Schwab, are packed with information and inspiration.

Go Online

Check out these Web-based financial resources that are geared toward women:

  • for smart tips and real-time money discussions with other women.
  • for advice on budgeting, investments, careers, and more.

Educate Yourself

Take a basic personal-finance class (inquire at a local community college or a continuing-education program), or join a women’s money group (go to for one near you).

Get more advice and learn about the psychology of Women and Money.

Fountain – How to Install a Water Feature

Adding a pond and fountain to the yard will introduce the soothing sound of trickling water.

Start to Finish

2+ Days


  • shears
  • shovel


  • fountain
  • underlayment
  • rubber liner
  • rocks
  • water plants


Dig the Hole

Purchase the water feature and determine the placement of the pond in the yard. Mark out the outline of the pond with landscape paint. Dig a hole wide and deep enough to accommodate the pump and pond.


Spread the Underlayment and Liner

Underlayment protects the rubber liner from tears caused by roots and rocks. Spread out a large piece so it covers the bottom and sides of the hole and extends up and out of the pond. Spread a large piece of pond liner so that it covers the underlayment. Temporarily secure both pieces with large rocks.


Position the Pump

Set the pump housing into the pond at correct height. Carefully position rocks around the base of the pump to keep it in place. This is also a good time to add other rocks and decorative features to the inside of the pond.


Fill the Pond

Fill the pond with water so that the underlayment and liner settle into place. Continue filling until the appropriate level is reached. Attach the pump to a water source.


Complete the Pond

Arrange rocks around the edge of the pond to conceal the underlayment and liner. Trim off any excess. Add water plants and other decorative features to complete the pond.


Test the Fountain

Plug in the fountain and turn on the fountain to ensure that it works properly.

What’s Your Home Worth?

What’s Your Home Worth?

Maybe you’re thinking of selling, maybe you’re thinking of refinancing, or maybe you’re just curious about the market. But the question is, “What is your home worth?”

A simple question should be returned with a simple answer, right? Well unfortunately, determining the value of your home–or any home for that matter–can be a tricky process. Nowadays there are endless websites that will promise you a fast answer with fancy charts and graphs. As tempting as it may be to trust this information, be wary of letting a computer program tell you what your largest investment is worth.

The trouble with these websites is that they have little to no local market information. The websites are not aware that a new park is being built in the neighborhood. They are not aware that a four-lane highway is being re-routed. In addition, they are not aware that you’ve lovingly cared for and maintained your home.

Therefore, the bottom line is this: If you’re serious about getting an informative valuation for your home contact a local real estate professional. These professionals work with the actual people who will ultimately determine the value of your home–the home buyer themselves. This is their profession and therefore they will be happy to sit with you and explain the current market conditions that affect your home value.

Contact Bob and Melinda McKenna at Austin Real Estate Partners. They are experts in the real estate market of South Austin, Texas, and particularly Circle C Ranch. Call Bob and Melinda at 512-288-8088 or email them at


home worth

Improve Your Living Room

Five ideas that can dramatically improve your living room

Can’t seem to create a living room that feels quite right? Looking for some styling tips that will bring your living room up a notch? Here are five ideas that can dramatically improve your living room.



Move the furniture away from the walls:

The tendency is to place your furniture against the walls, but giving it a little room to breathe will make the seating area seem cozier while also making the room seem more spacious.

Mix old and new pieces:

Using the same furniture set to furnish an entire room can make it seem a bit sterile. Try mixing and matching different pieces and styles to give your living room a more eclectic feel.

Keep everything low:

Arranging photos and artwork lower on walls will make a room appear larger, and can also draw more attention to the pieces themselves.

Place a bookshelf behind the sofa:

It doesn’t have to be your entire personal library. Mix and match books with knick-knacks and other items to add some depth and texture to the space behind your sofa.

Try a smaller coffee table:

Your current coffee table is probably larger than it needs to be, and it may be dominating the room. Try downsizing to a table that can still hold magazines, a centerpiece, and a few drinks, but will also give you a bit more room to move around your furniture.

The New and Improved Doorbell

The New and Improved Doorbell

You’re probably familiar with devices like Nest, which use smart technology to automate your thermostat and save you money. Think of Ring as the Nest of doorbells. It’s a product that replaces your standard doorbell with a device that connects to your home WiFi connection and sends video and audio of your doorstep to your mobile device.

In other words, you can use your smartphone to see who’s at the door, and you can do it from anywhere in the world.

It brings a whole new level of convenience. You’ll never have to worry about missing a delivery or having a package left in the wrong place. You can be at work when FedEx arrives, and use the intercom feature to tell the delivery man to leave the package where you please.

It’s also a great security tool. You can use the intercom to give the appearance that you’re home. As a result turning away everyone from annoying salesmen to potential burglars. It activates with motion detection, so you don’t have to wait for the doorbell to ring before you’re alerted that someone is at your home.

There are various ways to install Ring, and it starts at $199. Go to to learn more.



How do HOAs Work? When you purchase a home, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a homeowners association fee. This is especially true in gated communities, townhouses, condominiums, and other similar planned neighborhoods. The idea is to keep common areas clean and maintained. There is usually an HOA board that is responsible for setting the rules and regulations.


Each HOA is different, but most have the same core elements. You’ll typically pay your HOA fees either monthly or annually. This is an important factor to consider when you’re weighing your options for a new home. So what is typically included in your HOA fees?

First, the fun stuff, what HOAs have to offer

Amenities are typically the big perk of living in a community with an HOA. While you lose out on some of the freedom of living without an HOA, you instead get community amenities. The amentities may include a maintained pool, gym, clubhouse, tennis courts, and other amenities. The HOA fees pay for cleaning and maintenance, so—in theory—you’ll always have a clean pool whenever you want to use it.

Protecting the community

HOA fees often contribute to insurance for the community amenities, as well as a fund for unexpected repairs to damaged community property—think damage from weather or accidents.

General maintenance

Your HOA fees will go toward maintaining the general safety and upkeep of the community. This means things like elevator maintenance for condominiums, snow removal, and trash/recycling services.

Be active in the association

There may be a board of directors, but homeowners associations exist for the betterment of the entire community, and every voice matters. HOA meetings—and the amenities they support—provide great opportunities to meet your neighbors and make your community a better place.

Please contact Bob or Melinda McKenna at Austin Real Estate Partners for any questions you may have concerning HOAs. They are here to help you!!