Bidding Wars; Legacy of the housing bubble that won’t go away

Bidding warsThe housing bubble brought bidding wars — wars over $500,000 properties that ultimately sold for $600,000, wars over under-listed condos that drew dozens of would-be buyers, wars over starter homes that a few years earlier would have fetched a fraction of the price. This manic bidding was, in effect, a sign of the bubble, as well as a factor that helped inflate it.

But a curious thing has happened since the housing market has returned to something more rational: The bidding wars haven’t gone away.

A practice that was rare in the 1980s and 1990s now seems here to stay in markets like Washington, D.C., a permanent gift of the housing bubble (if you want to look at it that way). Lu Han and William Strange, economists at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, have concluded as much after looking at data from the National Association of Realtors dating back to the 1980s.

They find, in research published in the journal Real Estate Economics, that only around 3 to 4 percent of homes on the market across the country were selling in bidding wars for years prior to the bubble. Then at the bubble’s peak, nearly 30 percent of homes in metropolitan D.C. were selling this way, the highest share of any metro Han and Strange studied. The same was true of about 22 percent of home sales in Baltimore and Norfolk, 23 percent in Las Vegas and 26 percent in Los Angeles.

Since the housing collapse, these crazy numbers have declined, but not back to their earlier levels. As prices have fallen and the number of home sales has, too, bidding wars haven’t disappeared apace. That means that we’re probably seeing not just a lingering effect of the housing bubble, or even a pure product of high housing demand, but a new strategy for selling homes that was embraced during the bubble.

“The persistence of this suggests that people have decided that this is a good way to think about selling these kinds of goods,” Strange says, “selling housing in a more auction-like way.”

If a list price once meant the seller’s ceiling, for many homes it’s now the buyer’s floor — the number with which the auction can begin. Part of what’s going on here, Strange says, isn’t just that the small supply of homes for sale continues to push up their price in certain markets like D.C. (bidding wars still made up about 12 percent of sales here as of 2010). Real estate agents are also strategically listing homes below their value to createbidding wars.

“One way to see all of this is that housing is this incredibly important good, it’s easily the most important asset in a typical household’s portfolio. As a share of total wealth, housing is huge,” Strange says. “And yet, the way houses are getting marketed, very broadly speaking nowadays, is an awful lot like it was 50 years ago.”

If you’re a buyer or a seller, you sign a contract with a real-estate agent who understands what’s going on a lot better than you do. They negotiate on your behalf and split a commission, typically about 6 percent. The way information is traded — through home visits, negotiations and market comparisons — is more or less how it’s been done for decades. For most of this time, buyers would set an aspirational price, then negotiate down from there.

“With the rise of bidding wars, we shouldn’t think that the housing market — like other markets — is just going to keep doing things in the old traditional ways forever and ever,” Strange says. “There are going to be changes.”

Australians have long bought housing like Americans buy high-end art — at auction. So what’s to say more of us won’t buy housing like that in the U.S. too?

Whether or not that tactic is actually making sellers more money — it’s hard to know in this data — some agents must believe that it does. The result for the rest of us is that an opaque market becomes even more so. You may think a $300,000 home is in your budget, only to find that the sellers never intended to accept that little anyway. You may struggle to gauge the difference between a $400,000 home and a $500,000 one because you can’t tell which one — or both? — is intentionally under-listed.

Now add to the confusion of buying a home the sometimes irrational emotional of an auction. Other research suggests, for instance, that some people online are willing to pay more at auction than they will for the exact same item on a one-click purchase. It’s hard to believe similar behavior doesn’t seep into housing auctions as well.

“People are making these million-dollar trades,” Strange says of homebuyers. “But we really don’t know that much about the housing market, where it’s going, what demand and supply are. It’s an amateur market where people are making these huge, huge decisions.”

At the very least, here is a free piece of information for your frantic search if you’re buying a first home to haven’t bought a new one in 15 years: Bidding wars are now a thing.

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Good News for Buyers; Lending Standards Easing


Earlier this year, we saw the return of the 3% down payment – a major step towards the easing of lending standards nationwide after years of progressively tighter rules. While many of these guidelines were established in an effort to prevent another collapse, in many cases they are over cautious, preventing would-be homeowners who fell short of the qualifications from buying a home. Now, the standards are easing again – good news for both buyers and the real estate community in whole.

According to the latest credit availability index from the Mortgage Bankers Association, January saw improvements in all four of the reports loan categories. The changes reflected a positive response from lenders towards government efforts to improve affordability through easing regulations.

One major factor playing into this change was the return of conventional mortgage with a 3% down payment – a policy which Fannie Mae adopted earlier in the year but has been gaining traction with other lenders as well. Freddie Mac, for example, plans to begin a similar 3% down loan on mortgages which closed on or after March 23.

While Fannie and Freddie are two of the bigger players in lending, the 3% down program doesn’t end here. According to index, nearly 40% of investors have already adopted a similar 3% down policy.

The Federal Housing Administration has also played a hand in improving affordability with their reduction of upfront mortgage insurance premiums. It’s estimated that this change could move thousands of potential buyers into eligibility, as virtually every lender working with the FHA program has reduced these costs.

With all the recent changes, many lenders are gaining confidence in lending to a wider range of borrowers, many of whom are below previously set limitations such as credit scores and cash for a large down payment. Wells Fargo, for example, previously had a minimum FICO score of 660, but now no longer has a hard limit set. Instead, the lender is willing to give you a chance if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac’s automated underwriting systems accepts your application.

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Telltale Signs That You’re Ready to Sell

Ready-to-SellIt doesn’t matter how the decision comes about to sell your home; when you’re ready, you’re ready. 

Knowing when to move on from a relationship is an essential life skill. I’m not talking about romance, but an even deeper relationship: the one you have with your humble abode.

Selling your home is just as big an undertaking as buying one — in many cases, even more so! You’ve made memories in your home, and that can make it hard to see the proverbial writing on the wall.

So how do you spot the telltale signs of an impending property breakup?

You browse your heart out

Surfing real estate listings online has become a favorite pastime. Real estate photos these days are as Pinterest-worthy as any magazine spread, and it’s easy to scroll away the hours looking at pretty pictures of houses.

If you find that your search filters have become more detailed, that you’ve signed up for a Trulia account, and that you’re bookmarking houses with abandon … you may be doing a bit more than just dreaming.

Sometimes the decision to sell your home isn’t a conscious one; it simply becomes apparent through your actions.

Brandon Wilson, a recent home seller in Dallas, found himself in this exact situation.

“I was spending so much time online looking at houses, it practically became my job. Even though I felt happy with the home I had, I finally realized that all the amenities I wanted in my current home could actually be mine if I just moved; I listed my house for sale the next week.”

You obsess over every for-sale sign

Most of us know a real estate professional in our neighborhood. It’s natural to ask about the market in general terms — we all want to know what our house is worth, don’t we?

Even if you aren’t ready to sell your current home, looking at homes for sale can be a fun way to spend a Saturday.

However, if you find yourself cornering the local real estate pro at every neighborhood get-together to discuss market valuations, then you may be more serious about moving than you think.

The same can be said for spending every waking hour driving around to open houses. It’s natural to be curious occasionally about homes for sale in your neighborhood, but if you’re starting to feel like you should have your own HGTV show, then it’s time to move on.

You’re desperate to “right-size” your home

Everyone says time flies, and this is definitely true in real estate. We often find ourselves in a situation that was perfect five years ago but just isn’t filling the bill now.

Maybe you’ve added a family member or two or the kids have all moved out; whatever the change, the outcome is the same — it’s time to “right-size” your home.

If you fantasize about the free time and road trips you could take if you didn’t have 3,000 square feet to maintain, or if every morning you long for a bathroom you didn’t have to share with three kids and a dog, it’s time to list and make your dreams come true.

The first step? Get clear on the reasons that your house is no longer the one for you. Then you can embrace the process and start implementing a plan to make your fantasy home a reality.

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Mortgage Lenders Set to Relax Standards

WSJ graph

Agreement With Fannie, Freddie Potentially Paves Way for More Applicants to Qualify for Loans

Lenders also are expected to widen the scope of the types of borrowers they will accept by reducing credit-score requirements and giving greater leeway to consumers whose credit history suffered because of one-time events, such as a job loss or big medical bill.

Economists have long maintained that tight credit could be holding back the housing recovery and damping economic growth. On Tuesday, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index showed that U.S. home prices grew 4.8% in the 12 months ending in September, their slowest pace in two years.

After the financial crisis, Fannie and Freddie made banks repurchase tens of billions of dollars in loans that the companies said didn’t meet their standards. In turn, many lenders stopped making loans to all but the most pristine of borrowers.

In many cases, they required borrowers to have substantially higher credit scores and put in place other measures—so-called credit overlays—that were more stringent than what Fannie and Freddie required.

With the new agreement, “I’ve been told with absolute confidence that some lenders are lifting almost all of their overlays,” said David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, lifted its credit-score overlay earlier this year, which the bank said was in anticipation of the agreement with Fannie and Freddie. Now it says borrowers can expect a smoother process of getting a loan with less “excessive” paperwork.

“It’s providing greater certainty for all the parties so that you can lend more confidently and make the whole judgment process much easier and more clear cut,” said Mike Heid, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

For example, under the previous system, Mr. Heid said a borrower who had a late payment on an auto loan might have been asked to write a memo describing what happened, even if such a mistake wasn’t critical to the decision to make a loan or not. That was because Wells couldn’t be certain what would trigger a repurchase demand from Fannie or Freddie, he said.

Now, they are less likely to be required to ask for such documentation, he said, which should speed the process of securing a loan.

Jerome Lienhard, CEO of SunTrust Mortgage, said the new guidelines likely would allow the company to lift its overlays by “a pretty meaningful amount.” He said the bank is still analyzing which overlays to remove, but he is confident many will be eliminated. “This is real. This is substantive,” he said.

Before the new rules were put in place, Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corp. in San Ramon, Calif., typically wouldn’t make a loan to a borrower with a credit score below 660, said Bill Godfrey, the company’s executive vice president of capital markets. Now, he said he believes the company will lend down to 620, the limit for loans backed by Fannie and Freddie.

“We will be able to be looser and open up the net wider,” said Mr. Godfrey.

Not all lenders are poised to relax their underwriting rules. On an earnings call a few days after the agreement was announced, U.S. Bank Chief Executive Richard Davis called it “a good sound bite” and indicated that his bank wasn’t prepared to make changes.

“Unless we are convinced that the rules are going to be permanent and there is not going to be a look back or a reach back in future times…we are simply going to stay on the sidelines in the concerns of both compliance risks and other uncertainties,” said Mr. Davis.

“You won’t see us start to expand our criteria much past what we’ve done,” said Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan at an investor conference this month.

Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading, said some lenders are still too “shellshocked due to litigation and the shifting regulatory environment” to ease credit conditions soon.

Still, overall, Fannie Mae CEO Timothy J. Mayopoulos this month said lenders were “reacting positively to those developments. I do think that lenders are nonetheless concerned about other factors in the environment that we do not control.”


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O.C. home prices jump more than 10% in October

OC house graphOrange County home prices showed uncharacteristic strength for an October, with double-digit gains for the first time in four months, new housing figures released Wednesday show.

The median price of an Orange County home – or the price at the midpoint of all sales – was $595,000 last month, up 10.2 percent from a year ago and up $10,000 from September’s median, CoreLogic DataQuick reported.

Typically, prices drop from September to October as part of a seasonal slowdown, rising in only nine of the past 27 years.

Last month’s price gain was the biggest price appreciation rate in the region and the only double-digit gain among six Southern California counties DataQuick tracks. And it was the highest median home price for an October since 2006.

Countywide, home sales remained well below October averages, however, with transactions falling to the slowest pace for the month in three years. DataQuick reported that 2,849 homes changed hands last month, down 4.6 percent from the same month’s sales pace last year.

The market here matched trends throughout Southern California. Regionwide, the median home price increased 6.8 percent to $410,000, while sales fell 4.4 percent to 19,271 transactions.

All six Southern California counties that DataQuick tracks showed year-over-year price gains of 6.3 percent or better, while sales dipped throughout the region.

posted by Jeff Collins, OC Register

OC Halloween Events

Orange County
Halloween Celebrations

Halloween parties, Fall Festivals and seasonal parades!

** Due to possible last minute changes to times & locations to the events below, we encourage you to click on the link of the event holder to get the most updated information.

Aliso Viejo Anaheim
Brea Buena Park
Costa Mesa
Cypress Dana Point
Fullerton Garden Grove
Huntington Beach Irvine
Laguna Hills Laguna Niguel
La Habra Lake Forest
La Palma Los Alamitos
Newport Beach Orange
San Juan Capistrano
Santa Ana Stanton
Silverado / Trabuco Canyon
Villa Park Westminster
– Related Sections –
Costume Rentals Halloween Party Planning
ALISO VIEJOHalloween Fair and Haunted HouseSoka University will have booths for children, haunted house for young teens, games, activities and performances for all to enjoy!

The Haunted House will be held on the first floor crypt of the SUA Recreation Center and the entrancing fee will be $5 at the doomsday door. The suggested age for this dark journey with moving monsters is 10 years old and up. Proceeds benefit the student clubs at Soka University.

Soka University, Recreation Center
1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo


ANAHEIMAnaheim Fall Festival & Halloween Parade
2014 details coming!
The Halloween Parade has been an Anaheim tradition since 1924, when baseball legend Babe Ruth was honored as the Grand Marshal of the celebration.

The Fall Festival features game and food booths, live entertainment, craft fair, haunted house, pumpkin patch, a children’s costume contest and trick-or-treating. Food and craft booths are available for a nominal fee.

Most events are held in Downtown Anaheim, at the Center Street Promenade

(714) 999-3456

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Halloween Treat-or-Treating at Anaheim Town Square
2014 details coming!

FREE Event! Activities include: Trick-or Treating, Pumpkin Decorating, Face Painter, Train Ride, a Costume Contest and More! Plus, your favorite stores will be passing out treats and special offers. Look for the participating merchants with pumpkin window clings & balloons!

Anaheim Town Square
2180 East Lincoln Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92806


BREAKidz Block Party
October 31
North Orange County’s Largest Free Halloween Alternative Event at Downtown Brea.Presented by The Cause Community Church featuring face painting, pony rides, games, bounce house, petting zoo,rock climbing wall, raffles, prizes, entertainment and free candy.

Brea Downtown
E Birch St and S Brea Blvd
Brea, CA 92821

BUENA PARKPirate’s Dinner Adventure presents “VAMPIRATE’S”
2014 details coming!
Care to join the VamPirates…. As Dinner?Back by popular demand, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure’s Halloween-themed show, “VamPirate’s” will return this October! Come celebrate at Treasure Bay’s Annual Masquerade Ball with vampire hunters Randolph & Kate. They are there to forewarn the costume-clad guests of the dangers lurking in the haunted Secret Cove. Unfortunately, their cries of despair go unheard, as Captain Sebastian the Black and his horde of Vampire Pirates crash the Ball and take Randolph and Kate captive. The VamPirates take them aboard their ghostly ship, where they will prepare them as their midnight snack! Will Randolph and Kate escape the perils of the VamPirates appetite? Find out this October at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Ghouls and ghosts of all ages are encouraged to dress up in costume and participate in the costume contest, where prizes will be awarded.

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
7600 Beach Blvd
Buena Park CA, 90620

For reservations and showtimes, please call 714-690-147 or toll free 866-439-AHOY.

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Knotts Scary Farm Halloween Haunt
September – November
select nights

Knott’s professional “scare-masters” transform the old Berry Farm into Knott’s Scary Farm for another year of the world’s first, biggest and most famous theme park Halloween event! Every year all 160-acres of Knott’s Berry Farm are transformed into your worst nightmare with themed mazes, live shows, and scare zones featuring hundreds of free-roaming monsters.

2013 brings five new mazes to an already extensive variety of horrific attractions and Elvira makes her return in an all-new stage show.

Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park CA, 90620

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Knotts Berry Farm Camp Spooky
Weekends In October

Knott’s Berry Farm invites kids ages 3-11 to dress to impress in all their Halloween finery and come to ‘Snoopy’s Costume Party’ in Camp Snoopy. This daytime, non-scare celebration of cheer rather than fear is the social event of the season with shows, activities and of course, trick or treating.

Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park CA, 90620

COSTA MESAPacific Symphony ‘Sherlock Holmes Halloween’
October 25, 2014
10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m

Magical, mysterious music gets you in the Halloween mood as you help Sherlock Holmes solve the Mystery of the Haunted Violin! Includes instantly recognizable selections from Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre,” Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and more! Don’t forget to wear your costume.

Segerstrom Concert Hall
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

(714) 755-5799

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Annual Trick or Treat Festival
2014 details coming!

The Orange County Market Place celebrates the Halloween season with its 16th Annual Trick or Treat Festival & Halloween Hearse Show featuring a Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Celebration with Azteca and folklorico dancing, artisans and more. Families can also enjoy hearses on display, sugar skull painting for children, strolling entertainment and more.

Children in costume can enjoy trick-or-treating from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Trick or Treat Festival and most activities are free with Orange County Market Place admission.

Orange County Market Place/OC Fair & Event Center Lot A
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA

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Halloween Foodtacular
2014 details coming!

Food Truck Fare will get spooky at the Halloween Foodtacular with a variety of gourmet food trucks, ghoulish tunes, cash bar with adult “spirits,” truck-to-truck trick-or-treating for the kids, and more. Family-friendly costumed encouraged.

Admission & Parking is Free

OC Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA

CYPRESSCity of Cypress Halloween Carnival
October 31, 2014
6:00 – 9:00pm
Family Games, Entertainment and Trick or Treat! Food will be sold for an additional cost at the event 

Cypress Community Center
5700 Orange Ave


DANA POINTDoheny State Beach Halloween Haunt
October 25, 2014
Don’t miss out on Doheny’s most festive event of the year! Bring your family and friends to celebrate Halloween in a fun and safe environment with good ole fashioned spookiness, arts and crafts, a fun zone, and an array of educational booths.There is no charge for admission; however, a donation of one non-perishable per person is greatly appreciated. Don’t’ forget to dress up those little ones!

Doheny State Beach, picnic sites A and B.



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Halloween Kids Boo Cruise
2014 details coming!

The haunted vessel, Sum Fun, will be cruising the harbor ever 20 minutes. This event is fun for the whole family and there will be a costume contest on every cruise! Be sure to dressed in your best Halloween attire! Be sure to get here early as this is a really popular event!

There is a $5 donation for each person (no donation for children 1 and under) with all proceeds to benefit Us Too Gymnastics and Community Autism NOW

Dana Wharf Sportfishing / Dana Point Harbor
34675 Golden Lantern
Dana Point


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Halloween Spooktacular & Moonlight Movie
October 24, 2014
4:30 – 9 pm

At 4:30 pm the City of Dana Point will be hosting spooky fun at Lantern Bay Park. Halloween Carnival Games, Halloween Cupcake Decorating & Crafts, costume parade and more!

The night ends with the Moonlight Movie, Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone (PG) beginning at 6:30pm – Free popcorn and treats

Lantern Bay Park
25111 Park Lantern Road
Dana Point, California 92629


FULLERTONHaunted Fullerton Walking Tours
September 17 through November 6, 2014
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m.
Did you know Fullerton is one of the most haunted cities around? Ghosts are lurking at every corner. Take this tour and find out what businesses have pots and pans flying around after hours, what famous deceased Fullertonian makes an “appearance” now and then, enjoy some of Fullerton’s history. These tours are a celebration of local legend while sharing stories of another facet of Fullerton’s history, particularly that of the downtown.“Ghost hunters” should be prepared to walk approximately 1.5 miles (lasting about 2 ½ hours), and the tours will include climbing stairs. Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a sense of humor with them. The tour is not recommended for children under 13. Cost is $15 for museum members and $18 for the general public (Halloween night slightly higher).

Meet at Fullerton Museum

(714) 738-6545
It’s strongly advised to get your registrations in early


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Night of the Living Dead
October 3 – November 1, 2014

The zombie classic that started it all! A true cult classic – and one of the scariest movies of all time. The dead are walking, and hunger for human flesh. A group of panicked survivors are barricaded in a deserted farmhouse while the army of flesh-eating zombies hovers outside their door. This Halloween experience the bone-chilling terror on STAGE!

Warning – Graphic Violence

Maverick Theatre
110 E. Walnut



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Haunted Garden at the Arboretum
2014 details coming!

Every year the Fullerton Arboretum transforms their garden into a haven for all that goes bump in the night. But don’t worry, their guides will take you safely through the treacherous paths that wind through the dark forest the evil spirits call home.

Tours through the garden begin at 6:30 pm both nights and run until the last tour leaves at 8:00. The end of the tour features a Haunter’s Ball, where there are games and activities for those lucky enough to make it through the garden. Pre-paid Ticket Pricing: Adults and Teens $12, Children under 12, $6. Prices at the gate will be higher.

Fullerton Arboretum
1900 Associated Road
Fullerton, CA


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Temple Baptist Church’s Fall Festival
2014 details coming!

Wear your costumes for our parade and contest. Play Games for candy and Prizes. Adults make you best homemade chili for our annual Chili Cook Off!!

1601 W. Malvern Avenue
Fullerton, CA.


GARDEN GROVEJack O’Lantern Jamboree
Friday, October 24, 2014
Sponsored by the city’s Community Services Department , the event will feature games, crafts, a costume parade, a haunted house, a bounce house and more. Snacks will be a available for purchase.Must buy tickets before this event! – Admission is $8 per person; children 2 and under are free. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Atlantis Play Center
13630 Atlantis Way
Garden Grove, CA 92844


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2014 details coming!

King of Kings Lutheran Church is hosted a Halloween event with games and meal. Kids come in costume and there will be photo opportunities.

King of Kings Lutheran Church and School
13431 Newhope St
Garden Grove, CA 92843


HUNTINGTON BEACHMain Street Halloween Fest
October 31, 2014
For children of all ages, this annual Halloween celebration comes courtesy of the Downtown Business Improvement District. The spooky festivities include a moon bounce, petting zoo, Ferris wheel, pumpkin carving, costume contests and more.LOCATION:
Downtown Huntington Beach
Main Street and 5th Street by Pacific Coast Highway

(714) 536-8300

Select nights starting October 17
An elaborate yard display in Irvine, BOOT HILL rises from the fog for it’s 14th year to inhabit the residence at 16 Goldenrod. The unearthly spirits from the old west town of Bridgewood will materialize for NINE nights, transforming the residence at 16 Goldenrod into the old church and cemetary that once occupied the land. Come if you dare…but beware the ghost of Jedediah Smith, he has been known to roam through the decaying grounds of Boot Hill.Free to all, donations are accepted with proceeds going to CHOC, Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

16 Goldenrod
Irvine, CA



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Spooktacular Saturdays
October 4, 11, 18 & 25, 2014

Four days of family fun and entertainment! Each Saturday, families can enjoy traditional fall festivities at the Orange County Great Park. Festivities will include kids crafts, petting zoo, carnival games, Harvest Walk, entertainment, gourmet food trucks and much more.

The Great Park
5 Freeway and Sand Canyon

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Fall Fest Hosted by Compass Bible Church
October 31

For the past 9 years, FALL FEST has become a favorite event for families to enjoy on Halloween night.

Costumes are welcomed…and encouraged. But please, for the sake of our younger guests NO SCARY COSTUMES.

ALL FREE family event

Compass Bible Church
150 Columbia in Aliso Viejo – There will be PLENTY OF PARKING and an event drop off zone available onsite.

October 3 – November 1, 2014
Select days, please check their website calendar
New location – The Empty Grave has moved from it’s Anaheim location to Laguna Hills Mall. This haunted attraction is located a few block from Disneyland with 50,000 square feet of terror! Featuring state of the art special effects, live actors and animatronics. Online tickets available.
23400 Laguna Hills Mall
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
October 23-25, 2014
Zombie’s have taken over the Crown Valley Community Park! Small groups will be escorted by our trained, “Zombie Squad” to experience the Haunted Trails, tents and mazes. Wear comfortable walking shoes, as you weave through the zombie infestation areas and experience the mayhem and madness! At the end of the event you will be checked out at the “infection check station” to safely leave the event.This is a VERY SCARY event and not recommended for children under 8 years of age. $12 per entrance

Crown Valley Community Park
29751 Crown Valley Parkway
Laguna Niguel, Location at the entrance to the Community Park on the emergency road.

949-362-4351 x 1

LA HABRAChildren’s Museum Mini Monsters Bash
October 31, 2014
Bring your little goblin for a fun and festive Halloween morning! There will be crafts, games, stories and a costume parade!Free to CMLH Members and visitors with paid admission.

Children’s Museum at La Habra
301 South Euclid Street
La Habra

Please call 562-905-9793 for reservations

LAKE FORESTHaunt at Heritage Hill
2014 details coming!
Be the first to dare tour the haunted schoolhouse. Are you brave enough to experience “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and the all new “La Carnivora” scream zones? There will also be a DJ, dancing and a special movie screening of the Universal classic horror film “Dracula” starring the legendary Bela Lugosi. Celebrate the legacy of Bela Lugosi with Bela Lugosi Jr. who will be at the event signing autographs and answering questions.Recommended for 13 years and older.

Heritage Hill Historical Park
25151 Serrano Road
Lake Forest, CA


LA PALMAHalloween Carnival
Friday, October 31, 2014
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
This yearly spooktacular event features a fabulous COSTUME CONTEST for ghouls and boys with special prizes in each age division! This year’s Halloween spookfest will feature CARNIVAL GAMES, a “GOBLIN GULCH” for children under the age of 5, and a haunted area.Free event. This event will be canceled in the event of rain.

Central Park
La Palma

For more information, please call the La Palma Recreation and Community Services Department at (714) 690-3350.

LOS ALAMITOSShocktoberfest
October 24, 25, 26 & 31, 2014
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
For the first time ever, the Youth Center partnering with St.Isidore Historical Plaza on bringing this fun annual event to our community. Join us for Oktoberfest party at St. Isidore Plaza with incredibly scary Haunted House. Experience Halloween like never before! Haunted plaza, costume contests, German music, live bands, amazing vendors, bratwursts, pretzels, kids and adult games, photo memories, fun atmosphere and prizes!$5.00 small maze, $10.00 large maze ($12 for both!)

St. Isidore Historical Plaza
10961 Reagan Street
Los Alamitos, CA

(562) 430-1073

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Trunk or Treat
2014 details coming!

The Los Alamitos Recreation & Community Services Department is proud to bring back the second annual Trunk-or-Treat event. Held at Little Cottonwood Park this year, the FREE event will offer trunk-or-treating, treasure hunting, games, costume contests and more! Be sure to dress in your Halloween best and bring a bag for all of your loot!

Cost: FREE (food available for purchase)

Little Cottonwood Park
4000 Farquhar Ave
Los Alamitos CA 90720


NEWPORT BEACHFamily Fright Zone Friday
2014 details coming!
Ghostly creatures take to fright, on this spooky family Fun Zone night. Join us for a BOOtiful evening at our 2nd Annual Halloween event. Experience costumes, pumpkins and candy, Oh My! Trick-or-treat at the Fun Zone as witches, wizards and ghosts come to life on the waterfront. Enjoy spooky storytelling, kooky crafts, face painting, magic shows and live entertainment for the entire family.Friends of Frankenstein: Dress is your favorite costume and march in our Howlin’ Halloween Costume Parade. Participate in the Monster Mash, the Mummy Wrap and other Halloween activities. No tricks, just treats!

All activities are FREE for Members or $5 for Non-Members.

600 East Bay Avenue
Newport Beach, CA, 92661

For details about this spooktacular event or call (949) 675-8915!

ORANGEIrvine Park Railroad – Pumpkin Patch
Saturday, September 20 – October 31, 2014
Irvine Park Railroad’s 9th annual pumpkin patch is fun for the entire family! The pumpkin patch opens daily at 10:00 am beginning September 20th through October 31st. Activities include train rides, hay rides, a haunted house, a hay maze, pony rides, a moon bounce, panning for gold, face painting, picture stands, the Orange County Zoo, and a lot more. Admission into the pumpkin patch is free. Prices for all other activities vary. Additional activities inside of the park include Irvine Park Rentals’ paddle boats and Wheel Fun Rentals® bikes (single surrey bikes, deuce coupes, choppers, beach cruises and more), the Orange County Zoo and pony rides. School and group discounts available for Pumpkin Patch tours.LOCATION:
Irvine Park Railroad
1 Irvine Park Road, Orange


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Bats, Cats & Spiders – Halloween Toddler Program
October 3, 8 & 15, 2014

Learn about creatures that are associated with Halloween! Class includes hands-on learning, fun, spooky crafts, and meeting zoo animals up close.

Event Fee: $5.00 (includes ONE parent)
Parking Fee: Irvine Park entry fee is $3 per car weekdays & $5 per car weekends Age: 3-4 years old

Orange County Zoo
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869

Special Instructions: PHONE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Call Marcy Crede-Booth, Education Coordinator at (714) 973-6846. Additional parents/siblings/family/friends must pay admission fee to enter zoo. Please note spaces fill quickly for toddler classes.

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Treats in the Streets
Thursday, October 30, 2014
4-7 p.m.

The streets surrounding the Old Towne Plaza are closed off to traffic and Old Towne merchants decorate their shops and local non-profit groups provide delicious food items and tasty treats for a nominal charge.

Fun activities include games, trick or treating, a costume parade, and entertainment for participants of all ages. (Parents please leave masks and pets at home)

Old Towne Orange Plaza Area
Chapman Ave. & Glassell

Orange Special Event Hotline (714) 744-7293


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Halloween Zoo-tacular!
October 25, 2014

Fun activities include trick-or-treating (kids ages 12 & under), spooky crafts, a scavenger hunt (kids ages 12 & under), and face painting! See the zoo animals receive treat filled pumpkins throughout the day! First 100 children (ages 12 & under) in costume receive a special gift!

Free with zoo admission ($2 per person, ages 2 & under free) Parking Fee: Irvine Park entry $5 per vehicle

Orange County Zoo
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869

(714) 973-6847

2014 details coming!
Get in the spirit of Halloween by joining the Historical Society Walking Tour Guides on a spooky walking tour of Los Rios Street, the oldest residential neighborhood in California. Be prepared for creepy tales of big black dogs, strange monks who have lost their heads, ghostly tales about a lady in white and other goings on.Cost: $5.00 adults $3.00 children. Reservations are required – it’s best to make them as soon as possible since these tours fill up. Meet and pay at the O’Neill Museum.

O’Neill Museum
31831 Los Rios Street

Reservations are required and can be made by calling

SANTA ANADiscovery CubePresents: Spooky Science
October 4, 2014 – November 2, 2014
Creepy crawlers, pumpkins, and friendly spooks are all making their way to Discovery Cubefor Spooky Science this October. Join us as we explore pumpkins of all sizes, shapes and colors and investigate the seeds inside them. Make your own slime, explore a spooky 3-D maze, check out spiders of all sizes and colors, and much more! Even the youngest of goblins will enjoy spooky fun while learning about shapes as they create their own jack-o-lanterns out of felt.LOCATION:
Discovery Cube
2500 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92705


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BOO at the Zoo
October 18, 19, 25, 26 & 30, 2014
5:30 – 8 pm

This family-friendly costumed extravaganza will bring FUN, SAFE, trick-or-treating in a “Merry not Scary” Zoo atmosphere, with educational animal presentations, storytelling, and entertainment throughout the evening, with a grand finale costume parade!

For the older kids, there’s also “Teen Scream,” a haunted house filled with thrills and chills. This ghoulish attraction has a separate entrance, but is included with the price of admission.

$14/person (only $7/Member) ages 2 & up children under 2 free. online tickets available

Santa Ana Zoo
1801 E. Chestnut Ave



Halloween Fun with Family and Friends
October 25, 2014
12-4 p.m

Join the fun as the annual Halloween Fun with Family and Friends is conducted the Saturday prior to Halloween. This special event is open to ghosts and goblins of all ages and will feature games, DJ entertainment, costume contests, non-profit food booths and a howling good time for everyone. Be sure to bring your trick-or-treat bag!

Stanton Park
7800 Katella Avenue

For additional information please call 714-890-4270


Haunted Tales from the Shadows of Old Saddleback
2014 details coming!

Some say that Black Star Canyon is haunted. Ghost hunters wander up the canyon at night searching for tribal villagers, bandits, homesteaders, and other forgotten figures of the past. Many of the legendary tales about the Santa Ana Mountains were compiled into Shadows of Old Saddleback, a book published in 1931. Dress up like a ghost from old California and creep along with us into the dark hollows of Black Star Canyon. Hear stories about strange happenings and decide for yourself if they are true. Search for elusive apparitions and nocturnal wildlife. We will gather in front of the giant sandstone formation at the end of Black Star Canyon Road at 5:45PM. At 6PM. Some stories may be inappropriate for younger audiences.

For 9 years and up. Minors must be accompanied by an adult or legal guardian.

Black Star Canyon, Black Star Canyon Rd.
Silverado, CA 92676.

Please check their website for RSVP information and special instructions to this event.

TUSTINHalloween Howl
October 31
Costume contests, family entertainment, carnival games, prizes and candy. Hosted by City of Tustin Parks & RecreationLOCATION:
Columbus Tustin Activity Center
17522 Beneta Way (Corner of Irvine Blvd & Prospect)

(714) 573-3326

VILLA PARKHalloween Fest
2014 details coming!
The night before Halloween, the VP Towne Center suddenly becomes the happy haunting grounds for young ghosts, goblins, a few pirates, some skeletons, and lots of princesses who have escaped from their local castles.Costumed children will have the opportunity to visit local merchants for treats throughout the Towne Centre.

Villa Park Towne Centre

(714) 998-1500

WESTMINSTERThe Pumpkin Factory at Westminster Mall
2014 details coming!
Visit the Pumpkin Factory for all your pumpkin needs! Check ou the HUGE selection of pumpkins if all shapes and sizes while the kids play the carnival games, rides, get your face painted, and visit the petting zoo!LOCATION:
Westminster Mall

(714) 483-9211

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Halloween Happening at the Mall
October 31

Join the City of Westminster and Westminster Mall for the annual Halloween trick or treat and nickel carnival! Located in the lower level Macy’s Court

Bring money to play carnival games!

Westminster Mall


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Costume Rentals

Creative Parties for Kids

Creative Parties for Kids now has costume rentals! Take advantage and rent now for Halloween. Visit Costume Gallery on our website for selection & prices.

New Studio Address:
924 North Batavia
Orange, CA 92867

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Halloween Parties

Creative Parties for Kids

Creative Parties For Kids offers the best and most talented committed artists. We can create a magical Halloween experience for you and your guests.

Our artists are appropriate for different kinds of parties and events, from backyard birthdays to large corporate events – our artists can even paint your company logo!


FREE Halloween Pumpkin

FREE pumpkins

2014 FREE Pumpkin Registration

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Home Prices Now Just 6.4% Below All-Time High

prices 6.4% off all time high

The pace at which U.S. home prices are rising has slowed down, but a new report Tuesday shows that home prices have retraced much of the ground they lost after the 2008 crash.

Prices rose 0.1% in July after adjusting for seasonal factors, according to an index maintained by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The index is calculated using prices on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That was down from increases of 0.3% in June and 0.2% in May, but it represents the eighth straight monthly gain.

With the latest increase, home prices are now up 4.4% over the past year. What’s more surprising is that the index shows U.S. prices now standing just 6.4% below their previous peak in April 2007.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index is a separate tool used to measure home prices. It showed a bigger home price boom—and a bigger accompanying bust—in part because it included more expensive homes with loans that weren’t eligible for purchase by Fannie and Freddie. It also didn’t include loans financed by subprime mortgage lenders that weren’t selling loans to Fannie and Freddie.

Also, the FHFA index is unit-weighted, meaning all sales count equally. The Case-Shiller index is value-weighted, which means price changes in more expensive properties receive greater emphasis.

The Case-Shiller national index, which is set to report its own measure of July home prices next Tuesday, showed that home prices in June were 9.9% below their 2006 peak.

How to shop for the best mortgage rate

shop for a mortgage

Mortgage rates haven’t moved much this year, and the good news is they’ve been stuck at historically low levels. But the bad news is that may be about to change.

Both home prices and mortgage rates are expected to move higher as we head through the fall, and that makes shopping for the right mortgage all the more critical. While various groups report national mortgage rate averages each week, the rates you get can vary dramatically from that average, depending on what product you choose and how you shop. So how do you get the best rate? We asked some of the top mortgage professionals across the nation for their top tips:

Craig Strent, CEO of Maryland-based Apex Home Loans:

“Don’t overpay for your mortgage. One of the biggest mistakes home buyers make is to take a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage when they don’t need it.”

The 30-year fixed is the most expensive of all mortgage products because the rate is the highest and you’re paying for the longest time. Choose a product that matches how long you expect to be in your home. If it’s just five years or less, then a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) which is fixed for five years will be a much cheaper option. If you’re conservative, try a 7/1 or 10/1 ARM. The rates on all of these are lower than the 30-year fixed and can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

“Don’t be fooled by points”

Points are an upfront payment of interest in exchange for a lower rate. This boosts your closing costs and makes the rate appear to be artificially low. This can make sense if you’re going to be in your home for a very long time. If you’re not, then the savings you’re getting in the lower rate over time is never going to make up for that higher cost upfront.

“Don’t fight the documentation requests”

A great rate can turn into a bad one if your rate lock expires or you have to pay for an extension. Get your financial house in order before you even apply for a loan. Documentation requirements can be arduous these days, but fighting them will get you nowhere as most are institutional and are not going to be waived.

“Beware of hidden fees and loan level pricing adjustments”

Artificially low advertised rates may come with additional points or closing costs. Be sure to review a full breakdown of closing costs before committing to a lender. If your property is a condo, your loan is cash-out or you have a lower credit score, your rate will rise, so make sure you give all your information to the lender up front, so that lender can give you an accurate quote.

Dan Green, publisher of in Cincinnati:

“You can shop by rate or shop by fees, but you can’t shop for both at the same time.”

Decide your strategy first, what makes the most sense for you financially, and then stick to the plan.

“You don’t have to ‘save 1 percentage point’ for a refinance to make sense.”

That strategy is a relic from our grandparents’ generation, when loan sizes were much lower, less than $100,000, and when closing costs could run 10 percent of the loan size or more. Think in terms of monthly savings—not interest rate reduction. If your savings offsets the costs, then go for it.

“Always compare the zero-closing cost mortgage”

Zero-closing cost mortgages are sometimes available for as little as 12.5 basis points (0.125 percent) added to your mortgage rate. Your payment might rise $30-50 per month, but you’ll eliminate $4,000 in closing costs or more. Again, this depends on how long you intend to hold the loan.

Logan Mohtashami, senior loan officer of California-based AMC Lending Group:

“Don’t make the mistake of pricing out lenders on different days”

Get a few lenders in place and price them out all at the same time. Rates can vary even hour-to-hour, so you want to get the best comparison possible.

“Don’t let multiple lenders run your credit score”

This can actually damage your score. Get one credit report done, a three-merge score, where one lender pulls Experian, Transunion and Equifax all together and your loan is based on the middle FICO score.

30 yr fixed 4.19% 4.30%
30 yr fixed jumbo 4.64% 4.76%
15 yr fixed 3.27% 3.46%
15 yr fixed jumbo 3.86% 4.02%
5/1 ARM 3.38% 5.31%
5/1 jumbo ARM 4.01% 6.25%
Find personalized rates:

—By CNBC’s Diana Olick.

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4 Reasons to Buy Before Winter

Snow-GlobeIt’s that time of year, the seasons are changing and with them bring thoughts of the upcoming holidays, family get togethers, and planning for a new year. Those who are on the fence about whether now is the right time to buy don’t have to look much farther to find four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report released recently projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 11.2% (most pessimistic) and 27.8% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise later this year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a recent paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains: “Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait? Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

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