Home Security: Do-It-Yourself or Professional Services?

March 20th, 2017

Protecting your home, and the loved ones and cherished belongings within it is one of the highest priorities of home ownership. As recent as a few years ago, the term “home security” meant calling a company to come out and install an alarm system that would alert emergency services — and you — in the event of a break-in or a fire. However, that term has taken on a whole new meaning these days. Here is the run down of what home security means and the systems and services that are available for you.

Professional Services
You can still get a home monitoring system from the big-names in professional security. According to a report from Gear Brain, the companies generally charge a fee for equipment and installation ranging between $99 to $199. Often, however, these fees are reduced or waived for special promotions. They provide in-home consultations in order to identify vulnerable points in your home, and locate an area of the home with a strong cellular signal in order to place a wall-mounted or counter-top controller. Read More >

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There Are Both Benefits and Drawbacks of Buying a House with a Friend

March 13th, 2017

According to the 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, from the National Association of Realtors, nearly 400,000 couples who bought homes during that year did so outside of a traditional marriage. But is it a good idea to buy a house with a friend? It can be. Here is a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of such a situation.

Benefits
As stated in a report from Money Crashers, many of the benefits of buying a house with a friend are financial ones. It may be easier to qualify for a home loan, as lenders will consider the combined income, and will take an average of your credit score. It will also be easier to come up with a good down payment if you’re both contributing. The longer you and your friend make mortgage payments together, Money Crashers adds, the more equity you build up, meaning that when it comes time to part ways, you can split that equity and both have money to put towards a down payment on your next home. One or both of you may also be able to deduct the interest of your mortgage from your taxes, which is particularly attractive to those with higher incomes. Not to mention, you’ll be saving money by splitting monthly expenses, maintenance of the home, and the cost of repairs. Read More >

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Working from Home: Staying Productive While Balancing Life and Work

March 6th, 2017

Telecommuting from home grants convenience for the worker while offering money savings for the company. In fact, the benefits have prompted at least 37 percent of U.S. workers to do it, according to Gallup. If you’re interested in joining this trend, here are a few tips for remaining productive while still balancing your life and work.

Make a space
To maintain work-life balance, you want to divide your office tasks from personal activities. Doing that effectively requires creating a separate space that you use exclusively for telecommuting, preferably one you can close off. If it’s the corner of a room, define it with a free-standing divider. A walk-in closet or entire room is ideal but only if you don’t mix family stuff in the same space. Read More >

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Is The Drought Over for Orange County?

February 27th, 2017

With so much rain falling in the past few weeks, gardens around Orange County homes are covered in green. Look toward the mountains and you may see plenty of white peaks. In fact, according to the California Department of Water Resources, the snow pack in the Sierra is running way above normal for this time of year.

With so much water falling from the sky, it’s sensible to ask: Is the drought over for the state? It depends on who you ask.

Orange County
The Municipal Water District of Orange County handles wholesale water supply and resource planning for much of Orange County, except for Anaheim, Fullerton and Santa Ana.

They just put out a press release declaring the drought emergency over in the county, pointing out that 50 of the 58 counties in the state, including our own, have been under a “flood emergency.” The tremendous storms in December and January have left only a fraction of the state in extreme drought. In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought emergency and mandated state water reduction of 25 percent. Orange County exceeded those conservation measures. Read More >

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Who Is On Your Orange County Real Estate Team?

February 20th, 2017

Real estate transactions are not solo affairs. In fact, many individuals and groups are responsible for completing them legally and to professional standards so you don’t experience problems later on. Here are some of the professionals on your OC real estate team.

Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents represent you in the buying and selling process while handling most of the paperwork for you and dealing with many of the other people on your team. They will negotiate on your behalf in exchange for a commission. You won’t need an agent when buying one of our properties because our sales team offers you the best prices possible and takes care of seeing the process through. However, if you’re selling an older home, you will need an agent to represent you on that side of the transaction.

Lender
The lender, which may be a financial institution or mortgage broker who works with several companies, gives you the money to buy the home by arranging for loans that typically last 30 years. It’s generally a good idea to pre-qualify with a lender before you start the house hunt, so you know how much house you can afford. Read More >

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What The New Treasury Pick Means for OC Real Estate

February 13th, 2017

The policies of the Treasure Secretary can have major implications for Orange County real estate, particularly for mortgages and financing.

Steve Mnuchin

The President’s pick for the post is Steve Mnuchin, former Finance Chairman of the Trump campaign and current principal of Dune Capital Management, a hedge fund. He was also a partner of Goldman Sachs, where he worked for 17 years.

Among his major accomplishments was rescuing failing bank IndyMac at the height of the mortgage crises in 2008 and turning it into the highly profitable OneWest, the largest bank in Southern California. This success, critics say, came at the cost of illegally foreclosing on as many as 80,000 homes, a practice that dubbed the bank, “Foreclosure Machine,” and Mnuchin, “Foreclosure King.”

However, the Wall Street Journal notes that many of the foreclosures were on loans that were hopelessly toxic and approved before the Mnuchin purchase. However, some evidence points to his preference for foreclosures rather than loan modifications. Read More >

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Will 2017 Be Another Banner Year for OC Real Estate?

February 6th, 2017

Newbury by Brandywine Homes

A new year always bring hope that things will get better and that’s no different in real estate. But this year, you need to add the uncertainty posed by a new presidential administration. Case in point: The FHA was scheduled to initiate a rate cut for its Private Mortgage Insurance that would have made it easier for homebuyers to get FHA loans. President Trump canceled that rate cut, preventing many buyers from taking advantage of the lower rate.

Despite this uncertainty and the difficulty of predicting the future to begin with, a few pundits have weighed in on what 2017 holds for Orange County real estate. Whether these forecasts will mean good or bad news for you can depend on whether you’re selling your old home and/or buying a new one.

Home prices will increase.

Chapman University predicts an increase of 39,000 jobs, or 2.5 percent, for Orange County in 2017. Improving employment in the county points to more families arriving who will need a place to stay. In addition, many millennials who previously moved in with their parents when they graduated are now spreading wings into the real estate market. Trumps planned economic stimulus should also improve the jobs market. Read More >

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Six Lessons from Tiny Houses for Orange County Homes

January 30th, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cute as a button, practical, and affordable, tiny houses have become all the rage, scoring multiple series on HGTV and other home-centered stations. While such spaces may be too diminutive for you and your family, they still offer plenty of takeaways for when you buy one of our Orange County homes.

1. Leave the clutter behind.
Moving into a tiny house means leaving most possessions behind due to lack of space. Going into a larger home is no excuse to start acquiring meaningless items that simply fill space. Otherwise, your garage becomes so filled with boxes that it can no longer fit your cars. And your spare bedroom becomes a storage room.

Sell, give away, or donate as many of your items as you can before your transfer homes. Not only will it minimize the time and money you spend on the move, it gives you more room at your new place.

2. Exchange old for new.
Tiny house owners must practice discretion when buying anything. The only way they can make space for something new in the home is by getting rid of something old. If you follow the same strategy of exchanging new items for old, then you won’t risk running out of space. Read More >

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Celebrate the End of Winter From Your Orange County Home

January 23rd, 2017

In colder parts of the nation, the seasons are marked by weather changes that can sometimes be severe. Around Orange County homes, winter tends to merge imperceptibly into spring, even with our recent rains providing some much-welcomed variety. Still, it is nice to herald the end of slightly cooler temperatures and the arrival of colorful blooms with these upcoming festivals.

Tet Festival (Jan 27-29)

To celebrate the lunar Chinese New Year, the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California are holding their 36th annual Tet Festival at the Orange Fairgrounds. A cultural village will simulate the charms of the Southeast Asian nation while booths serve all kinds of delicious food and sell items both beautiful and practical. Performances and contests include the Miss Vietnam of Southern California Pageant and a dragon dance or two.

Festival of Human Abilities (Jan 28-29)

For this weekend, the most interesting specimens at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach will be land-based as the Festival of Human Abilities showcases the talents of people with disabilities. Among the performances are a choir, hip-hop wheelchair dances, and underwater adaptive dives. Look for art displays and service animal demonstrations. Read More >

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Subscribe to 400+ Magazines for Free in Los Angeles and Orange County

January 16th, 2017

young blonde woman using tablet device in stylish apartment

One of the many rituals that happen with the coming of a new year is the renewal of your magazine subscriptions. Publishers make it convenient for you by sending frequent notices so you never miss an issue. Given that it costs only about $20 for a year’s worth of reading pleasure, you don’t even give the cost a second thought. You fill in your credit card details or dash off a check and send the notice on its way.

But have you stopped to think how much all those subscriptions cost in total? If you have five or six magazine subscriptions, you could easily be spending $100 or more a year on them. That’s money you could be saving, since you can get all, if not most, of those periodicals for free.

Loving the L.A. Library
The Los Angeles Public Library lets you “borrow” over 400 periodicals digitally over the Internet from the convenience of your own home. Among the titles: Better Homes and Gardens, Car and Driver, Conde Nast Traveler, Cosmopolitan, HGTV Magazine, Macworld, Men’s Health, National Geographic, PC Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Shape.

You’ll need to get a free library card and you don’t even need to be a resident of Los Angeles. As long as you live in California and have photo ID, you qualify. Read More >

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