Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Get To Know Your Neighborhood

A couple years ago, someone I know asked me if I had hear of Nextdoor.com. At that time I had no idea what this was.  Fast forward to today and you will find me telling random people about it and recommending it to everyone. This is a site where someone in your neighborhood probably started your neighborhood's online area for all your neighbors to join. You have to be invited and/or be able to verify your address to be on it.  I started the one in my neighborhood when I first heard of this and now we have 40 neighbors that are on it.  Because I started my site, I have the right to monitor it and delete people's comments or profiles if I feel necessary (which has not happened since everyone on it is really great at posting appropriate things to the neighborhood). I don't recommend trying to solicit business on this site since this is not what it was intended for (no one in my neighborhood will ever hear me talk about real estate on the site)  It is a place where you can post things like garage sales, missing cats and dogs, babysitting opportunities and the crime or incidences on your street.  This is a great way to stay connected with neighbors all around you, and you never know when it could help you in a bind.  The more neighbors that join, the better the site.  Nextdoor.com has gone through a couple recent changes (some good, some not-so-good) but they have listened to the feedback and are making changes. My neighborhood recently had our local police force join in on the site and now they can post alerts and need-to-know things that pertain directly to us. So, if you haven't heard of this site, I highly recommend you check it out and join. It really is a good way to stay tuned into what is going on in your hood.And check out what 20/20 had to say about it too http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/nextdoor-social-network-connecting-neighbors-reinvents-neighborhood-watch/story?id=18470589 and here is a video from 20/20 about it as well. http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/neighborhood-future-20325700


Sunday, July 28, 2013

How Do Real Estate Agents Make Money?

Boy...this is the kind of topic that gets everyone feeling awkward.  I mean, nobody talks about what they make or what they spend because it's really a personal matter.  But I'm finding out more and more that clients don't know how real estate agents make their money.  And of course, nobody wants to ask.  But, if you are using someone's services, wouldn't you like to know how they get paid?  During a recent conference a co-owner of my company went to, there was a panel of people that were asked a lot of different questions about real estate.  Each person had recently purchased a house and the people at the conference were all interested to hear about each one's experience. But, when asked, "How does your real estate agent get paid?" the answers were...well, lets just say, interesting.  So, here is the skinny.  Real estate agents work for a company but each agent is actually an independent contractor. This means that agents do not make a salary at all.  Real estate agents all work for commission only.  And everything that is done by each agent that costs money, is paid for out of his or her pocket. So things like photos of a home, those open house signs, flyers and mailers, associations fees and dues, and all other expenses come straight from a personal bank account. When we sell a home, the commission comes from the sale of that home and is split between the two agents that worked on that sale together.  That is, the listing agent and the buyer's agent.  So if you are working with an agent and he or she is doing a good job, stick with them rather than switching to someone new part way through your search.  Chances are, they've put a lot of their own time and money into helping you with your home search and if they are doing a good job, then they should be able to finish that job and see you all the way through a purchase.

So then, you may be wondering, why does an agent work at a particular office or any office at all if they are not paid?  Well, there are a number of different reasons to work with a particular company over another.  Here are some of the reasons I chose the company that I work for: For starters, I really like the branch manager. This is the person you go to with any questions or concerns you may have about a transaction.  I really want to make sure this is someone I can trust and feel free to go to anytime with any questions I may have.  Also, we have to split part of our commission with the company we work for so you want to work at a company where you think your money is going into worthwhile projects. My company puts a lot of effort into staying on top of what is going on in real estate and staying very current with things like social media and new apps and websites.  They are tuned into how to market our company and agents with today's clients which are using the internet and new industry advances like QR codes to find information.  They make sure their website is up to date and looks sleek and professional as well as being easy to navigate. My company also holds monthly meetings where we can learn about architectural styles and designs. We also have a terrific PR person who makes sure our company name gets out to the public a lot and that our agents shine with their marketing pieces.  So I hope that answers at least some of the questions you may be wondering about your real estate agent or just the process of how we work.  I love writing about things that people may be asking about or the hot topics of real estate today so if you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to let me know and I will be sure to put it on here.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

#1 Most Common Mistake Seller's Make

Do you want to know what I think is the #1 most common mistake I see sellers making? And it is so easy to fix. Do not be home during an open house, a showing, or an inspection. In fact, try to avoid all contact with the buyers if you can. And here is why:  It can get personal.  You are going to want the largest business transaction you will be making to be as non-personal as possible. So, if you don't make it personal, it will be less likely that anyone will take things personally.  I see buyers and sellers that meet, most of the time during the house showing.  And it starts off friendly enough.  They talk about their kids and where they vacation.  But then...you get into the middle of the transaction and the buyers want $5,000 credit to fix the roof. Then the sellers say to themselves "I'm not giving $5k to these people. Their kids are in private school. They can afford to fix it themselves" Or the sellers ask if they can move the closing date back four or five days. Then you hear the buyers say "I'm not moving the date around. The seller's are retired and I bet they are only doing that so they can work it around the many vacations they take."  So, do you see how making "friends" between the buyer and seller is just not a good idea? Oh sure, sometimes a sale can remain friendly and smooth between buyer and seller after they've met and gotten friendly.  But don't count on it.  After all..it's one person's goal to get the highest price for the single most expensive thing they own, and the other person's goal to not spend every dime they have on the most expensive thing they'll ever buy. And besides all the great reasons I already given you, as a seller, you may not want to hear Bob Buyer walk around your house and talk about all the things he doesn't like and is going to change. Some of those things may have been personal touches you worked hard on over the years and are proud of.  So, sellers, to avoid making things personal, get out of your home for a short while when you are expecting potential buyers to be there and you can avoid, what I consider to be, the #1 mistake sellers make when selling their home.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What is Escrow?

If you are not from Southern California, you may not be familiar with what an Escrow company is or does. In real estate, once an offer is accepted, we use escrow companies from the very start of the transaction until it is closed. We actually refer to this time from when an offer is accepted, until it closes as "being in escrow".  So if you hear someone say they are "in escrow", it simply means they are in the process of buying or selling their home with another buyer or seller. Typically, this process takes 30 days, although sometimes it can be 45 or 60.  On some occasions, such as all-cash transactions, the escrow time period can be less since there is no loan needed, which is a time consuming process to obtain the money for a loan.  But, to put it simply, an escrow company is a 3rd neutral party that collects the paper work from all the people involved in the transaction, and also holds all the money in a transaction until the end of the sale, when all the money is dispersed. If the buyer and seller find themselves at odds with one another, then the escrow company will hold the money (this is typically the deposit) until both parties agree on who gets the money. In order for money to be released from an escrow company, both parties must give their consent to do so or escrow may be directed on what to do with money from a court order if both parties can't agree. Every part of the country does real estate differently. Some parts of the country uses lawyers to help with these things, other parts use a title company...but if you are here in Southern California, you are likely to be using an escrow company. And just like any other company used during a real estate transaction, I have a few of them that I can recommend if you ever need one. So feel free to call me for that or any other real estate needs you may have.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Should My Condo Building Have Earthquake Insurance?

Are you looking to buy and condo, or own one right now, and are curious about whether or not the building should have earthquake insurance? In my experience, I see about half of the buildings that I've come across, do not carry earthquake insurance for the entire HOA property. Which means the other half does carry it. Well, what does that mean to you as a potential buyer of a condo, or a current owner of one if the HOA does not have earthquake insurance? Check out this LA Times article on the matter Do Home Owners Associations Have To Carry Earthquake Insurance?


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Home Remodeling Ideas and Costs

Every home owner out there has thought about doing a small project to their home or even doing a complete remodel. And I bet most everyone has also wondered how to do a certain project or how much it would cost as well. I mean, how do you cut and install crown molding? And I have a date kitchen and am thinking about redoing the whole thing to be modern and sleek...how much would that really cost? Well for all of us who love getting creative in our homes and doing some work ourselves, there is an awesome new site/app that is a terrific place to get our ideas from. If you haven't heard of Houzz then you will be like a kid in a candy store once you check it out. If you are familiar with Pinterest, then you'll be very familiar with how this website/app works. If you don't know Pinterest, then this will be something new for you but none-the-less, it is still quite simple to navigate. Just start off by signing up.  You'll see at the top of the page you can "browse rooms".  Here, you will see everything from kitchens to windows and doors.  Once you select the category you like, you can either browse by style or related items.  If you see something that catches your eye, and you may like to refer back to later or just keep it as something you like, you can click the bottom of the photo where it says "Add to Idea Book".  From there you can keep notes on what you liked or didn't like about the room, and add it to an Idea Book you've already created or make a new one (kind of like folders you have on your computer). If you click on the photo, you may be able to find out information about it like where the cabinets came from, or how they did the mirrors in the bathroom. If you don't see that information, you may even be able to ask the person who posted it. And a new part of this site that is just amazing is the Remodeling Cost Finder There you will find a map. Click on the area you are interested in, and to the left of the map, choose which project you are looking to take on. Then below the map, you will see a bar that has listed the different price points that project costs in your area. So, if you are thinking about doing some work to your home, you will have to stop by Houzz.com and see what they have going on and grab some ideas.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Home price rebound has look of a boom"

This article was on the front page of the LA Times today and I was asked to be in it Home Price Rebound Has Look Of A Boom


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Get It While The Gett'n Is Good

This is something my mother used to say to me all the time when I was young...and I'm now passing that advice onto you. We have seen the market make a come back. And last spring my advice to all my buyers was to buy now...and I was right on. Check out my article from Spring 2012 where I said that we have seen the bottom of the market, and now it's on it's way back up.  And also check out my article here from June 2012 when I addressed the rumors of a "double dip" that people were fearing where it was said that prices might take an even lower dip than where they were. I called the bluff on this rumor as well. I will never claim that I can predict the market without fail every time. But I have my finger right on it's pulse and I feel that, although the rates have risen a bit, you are still getting a phenomenal deal with the loan rates right now which are about 4.38%.  Even though the prices of houses have taken a turn upward and there are multiple offers on a lot of homes...the real savings is in the loan rate you obtain. So if you are thinking about buying, but you've heard that the market may level out in terms of house prices or even go down a bit...don't wait for this supposed thing to happen. Because whether or not it happens, the rates are only going up from here and in a year from now, you could be paying hundreds of dollars more per month on the same priced house you are looking at today. So....Get It While The Gett'n Is Good!!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Just Sold! 1412 E Wingate, Covina CA

Just sold this lovely home to Guy and Jessica. They are first time home buyers and are very excited about being home owners